Ferg Devins (I) will be leaving Molson Coors as of December 31st and I’m looking forward to having Molson Coors as my first client as I start up TheDevinsNetwork Inc. So…apologies for the “long blog” but I’ve got some ground to cover…smiles.

In Kenora Ontario in 1981 I had the most wonderful break as a young lad going to Queen’s University that one might every want. The local Molson sales representative, Dennis Olson, had met me during the previous Christmas break to see if I might take on the role of “summer representative” in northwestern Ontario. At the time I had been working for the MNR fighting fires in the spring and acting as a junior ranger foreman in the summer. Dennis suggested that I consider getting involved with Molson, as a career move with a great iconic Canadian company. He then arranged that I meet with this district Manager, Paul Raino, in Thunder Bay and the regional manager, Mike Murphy, who was in from Toronto for the World Cup Ski Jump event…sponsored by Molson. Well friends, nearly 32 years later it seems like just yesterday to look back at those summers at ball diamonds, tourist camps and the Jeux Canada Games in Thunder Bay that summer. While at Queen’s I served as a campus rep, and had the best job in the company in 1983 and 1984 as a captain aboard the Molson Marine Patrol “Accommodation Two” named after one of John Molson’s famous St. Lawrence Steamships ! The sales team of Zuk, Mekilok, Littleford, Kozak, Olson and Bell in Thunder Bay gave me a strong foundation of community relations and selling skills that first summer of ’81. Thirty plus years later still friends with Craig and Linda Prentice who were all part of team Molson in those early days.

I still recall meeting with former Toronto Maple Leaf great, turned district manager, Gaye Stewart for an interview for a Hamilton territory and then finding out from Mike Murphy and Paul Raino that I’d be taking on the challenges of a Toronto territory. That was quite a hill to climb for this kid from Kenora ! Chuck Seager and the Toronto sales team welcomed me with open arms. And I was fortunate enough to see a lot more of Jack Quinn in his role as Toronto East Manager. He had been my “mentor” in Kingston while I was at Queen’s. Norm Webb, Les Yates, Scott Ellis and Dennis Riggin where characters unto themselves as managers !

My Parkdale sales territory got me grounded in some solid street smarts. And I had the jewel in the crown in sales with Exhibition Place and Ontario Place properties. Moving into a marketing coordinator position I had great moments in sports and entertainment while playing key liaison for Molson on such important partnership properties as the Toronto Maple Leafs – Ontario Place – Exhibition Place – the Ontario Hockey League – Motion Show – Harbourfront and the Molson Canadian Rocks Music program and our 25 year jewel in our crown – the Molson Indy. Brian Luftspring and I still have lots of laughs of the great times in “promotions”. In Chain Accounts,  I had a tremendous mentor in Vic Stieben, as we created and built some of the early marketing and sales programs with our larger group customers.

As the Molson Carling merger took place I had the opportunity to move into the District Sales Manager role under the leadership of Jim Crawford. It was truly a transformational time for both companies as we brought two fierce competing cultures together. However, allies soon emerged between some of the best personalities in the beer business. Molson and Carling’s best drove the distinction that defined relationships in the beer business.

I was fortunate to gain experience in brand promotions, in many respects overseeing some of those properties that I had managed at the ground level. It was fascinating to connect the strategic brand positioning to the street marketing and selling aspects of the properties. Brent Scrimshaw was a great captain of our team.

As a national brand manager I was exposed to all aspects of marketing, advertising, promotion, research and all of the fascinating elements that make up brand management. When we decentralized I moved back to Ontario as a Sr. Brand Manager and then into the position of Director – Field Marketing…which I look back on as some of the most successful times for the team. The team was a total team with a passion for winning and under Dave Perkins – Dave Minnett and Roy Hryn were truly making a run for success in the business in Ontario West. Ray Douin had a similar formula happening in Quebec Atlantic.

After Field Marketing I moved to Sales Director for half of Ontario and had a superb team of great passionate sales people. We had breadth and depth in our portfolio and our selling tools.

The past fifteen years I’ve had the opportunity to lead various iterations of our corporate affairs portfolio, first for Ontario West, under the leadership of Michael Downey and then in Government Relations and PR with Scott Ewart and Kevin Boyce and since 2009 as Chief Corporate Affairs Officer for Molson Coors in Canada with Dave Perkins at the helm at Stewart Glendinning this past year. I have had the opportunity to work coast to coast to coast, building a network with the press, community stakeholders, political leaders, governmental civil servants, corporate responsibility thought leaders, industry colleagues and the hospitality sector from independents to national chains. In 2007 I was given the opportunity to jump into “social media” feet first when Kevin and Scott gave us the ability to pioneer, explore, converse and be open and authentic in the social networks. We built credibility on open honest communications between the company and the voices in and about our business. Authentic, genuine direct to drinker interactions…many friends of whom I still have today as followers @FergDevins. It has also broadened my experience by working with our global enterprise team in Corporate Affairs Dan, Bart, Jill, Colin, Scott, Jonty and Debbie…you guys rock !

I’ve been honoured to represent Molson Coors to our broader community. They have remained firmly committed to “Our Beer Print” and the company’s heritage of support for the broader community will be forever engrained in me. I was truly humbled to receive the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. I was but an ambassador for the great work that Molson Coors carries out across Canada.

In 30 years I’ve been so fortunate to be able to represent Molson Coors and to have met so many interesting people and have lived through so many exciting events in our times. Characters like Dave Nichol and Don Cherry come to mind. The opportunity to work with community leaders like Paul Godfrey and our Molson Indy Foundation board is a highlight for sure. Events like the 1981 Canada Games, The Molson Canadian Rocks Toronto SARS concert, and the 2010 Olympic games were experiences that were just simply once in a lifetime. To have been able to get to know our founding families just a little bit has been wonderful. The Molson and Coors families have truly built a culture of family and heritage in their business, something that has brought me immense pride in being an ambassador of this iconic company. The chance to open a new brewery after 50 years in Moncton was a monumental occasion and done with class.

The people that I have met have brought me the most joy. My team in Canada has been best in class. Thanks to all who have been colleagues of mine over these many years. You’ve been a great team and I know that the next generation will keep this 227 year iconic business moving forward. To those with whom I have worked in the community, government, media, our partners, our customers, the industry and hospitality and tourism sectors and of course the thousands of beer drinkers with whom I have interacted…I can’t thank you enough for the wonderful journey that I have had with you.

Kathy has been there from day one through to the 30th year. Heck…I was a Molson campus rep living downstairs when we were at Queen’s University in Kingston! And Helena and Clark have been great supporters of a busy dad with lots going on in our lives.

And now…The Devins Network Inc. begins a journey into the future and I look forward to seeing how we will keep these conversations alive. A toast to great possibilities ,as we embrace the future together. This Molson Coors journey has been spectacular…thanks to everyone who has helped to make it such a great experience. Cheers ! @FergDevins