Lawrie Pollard’s innovative thinking turned a local family business into an international success.
Canada’s History Society is saddened to hear of the death of Pollard, former president of Pollard Banknote. He died peacefully January 4, 2019, at age 90 in Winnipeg’s St. Boniface Hospital.
Pollard supported local charities and organizations, including Canada’s History Society, where he was a former member of the board of directors and a longtime supporter, both personally and through the Pollard Family Foundation.
“Lawrie was a mentor and a friend, who could be counted on for advice and ideas,” said Janet Walker, President and CEO of Canada’s History Society. “He would step in when needed, being a champion who bolstered community life.”
Pollard, born on January 26, 1928, started working at his father’s company, which was founded in 1907 in Winnipeg, when he was nineteen. The company, then known as Saults & Pollard, printed advertisements, stationary, and magazines, including The Beaver, now called Canada’s History. Pollard worked his way up in the company, eventually replacing his father as president.
With new technology in the 1980s, the printing industry began changing, and Pollard realized the company — now called Pollard Banknote — needed to evolve and adapt to suit the times.
What did he think would save his company, hopefully allowing it to continue to grow and thrive? Not banknotes, like the name may suggest, though that was one initial idea. Rather, Pollard thought scratch-and-win lottery tickets were the answer.
Pollard was in his late 50s when he took the risk to switch the company’s focus. His brothers weren’t confident the change would be successful, so he bought them out of the company. Pollard mortgaged his house and took out a multi-million-dollar loan for new machinery, all to create a product the company had never made before.
The transformation worked. Today, Pollard Banknote has more than 1,100 employees in five manufacturing plants across North America and prints twelve billion tickets each year.
Pollard was president of the company from 1960 to 1997, and the company continues to be in the family. His three sons are on the board of directors — two of them are current co-chief executive officers and the other served as one until 2011.
For his contributions to the business community, Pollard was inducted into the Manitoba Business Hall of Fame in 2014 and was named Manitoba’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 1991.