Nice outfit

Honorary Degree June 14 2013



Be courageous and don't be afraid of a hard work. That's the advice local businessman and philanthropist Mark Brown gave to TRU business and economics graduates during convocation on Friday.

"Hard work is the key to feeling really good about yourself. Not things that come easy, but harder," said Brown, president of Northern Trailer.

"I can tell by looking at all of you that you are capable of hard work."

A recipient of the honorary degree of doctor of laws, Brown spoke to a gymnasium full of graduates, their families and professors on the final day of convocation at Thompson Rivers University.

He told the crowd he is used to speaking in front of his employees, but his speech Friday was a first.

"This is a little bit harder," said Brown.

Brown is no stranger to adversity or hard work. He started Northern Trailer in 1981 with nothing more than an old pickup and industrial trailer.

He turned that simple business into a multi-million dollar manufacturer and a major employer in the region. He sold Northern Trailer in 2007, but stayed on as president.

Things were tough at first, said Brown. Interest rates were high — 22 per cent for vehicle loans and 12 to 14 per cent for mortgage rates. People were losing their houses and families.

"It was really pretty ugly," he said. "During those times you really have to learn to make do with less, be innovative, be courageous and keep on plugging away."

He promised the graduates times will be tough at first, but nothing of any real value is easy.

"You will find great satisfaction when you struggle through difficult times," Brown said.

As important as it is to work hard, it's also integral to give back, whether by volunteering time or, if possible, making a donation, he said. Brown has done that, contributing to various Kamloops organizations and charities.

In 2010 he donated $2 million to TRU to establish what would become the Brown Family House of Learning.

"It's really important, I think, to remember that for all the benefits you enjoy, we enjoy, somebody, in many cases, provided them for us," said Brown. "When you have an opportunity to help . . . that's a good thing to do."