Brad Pelletier, the managing director of IMG Sports in Canada, and the man behind the recent business dealings of Mike Weir, is departing the company. He told staff today about this resignation. Pelletier, 43, has been with IMG for 13 years, having previously worked in the golf business in BC, including the launch of Nicklaus North and running a Canadian Tour event in BC in the early 1990s.
I first met Pelletier in 2005. I recall it clearly as it was at the Toronto Golf Show and Pelletier was at a PEI Golf event. I needed a quote from the new IMG guy and he not only took the time — he gave me access.
“Call me anytime you need something,” he said. “I pick up my own phone.”
In a world of flacks, handlers and PR men, this was an unusual offer. I expected he was full of BS, but I called him a few weeks later and not only did he take my call, but he invited me for lunch. It was the start of a real change at IMG, who in the past had been regarded as arrogant and difficult to deal with.
In 2008 I began working with Pelletier in creating Weir Golf Design, and always found him to be smart, insightful and engaging — a man with entreprenuerial instincts and someone who listened to what others had to say. He was a chapter in my book, Going for the Green, and wrote a profile of him for the Financial Post Business magazine in 2007 that can be found here. Pelletier always knew all the players in the business — and that made him an invaluable connection to those from all walks of life, from media to sports to industry powerbrokers. He was #10 on the National Post’s list of most influential people in Canadian golf in 2009, and #11 on the same list from 2007.
Pelletier helped recreate IMG in Canada following the death of company founder Mark McCormack, and was integral in rebuilding Mike Weir’s relationship with media in Canada that had been damaged by his previous agent. Pelletier also helped land deals for Weir with RBC and Audi.
He has indicated he’ll stay in the position until March, when he intends to move his family, which includes his wife and four small children, to British Columbia.
“This is about integrity, doing what is best for me and my family and giving people the opportunities to succeed,” he said via phone tonight.
Pelletier also worked on the Telus Skins Game and with NBA star Steve Nash, as well as running a company that includes golfers Ian Leggatt, Richard Zokol, Lorie Kane, Jon Mills and Chris Baryla. His golf events involved the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, and Greg Norman.
At one point Pelletier was rumored as a potential candidate for the executive-director’s position at the RCGA that eventually went to Scott Simmons.
Caught last night at his son’s hockey game, Pelletier said he wanted to be clear that family and changing priorities were the driving factor behind the move and not alterations in the business climate or quarterly numbers. He said news of his departure hit the media prematurely after he spoke with some staff at IMG today.
“I’m not going to spoil any legacy here,” says Pelletier, who worked at IMG in Toronto since 2005. “I’m doing this because it is right for me and the timing works for everyone, including IMG and Mike Weir. I have nothing but good memories of the people I’ve worked with here.”
He made the decision to leave late last year after lengthy discussions with his wife, Pelletier says. He says he leaves a talented young team behind at IMG — a team he largely created — that he said is prepared to handle any negotiations or deals involving the company’s top golf figures. He says comments that he’s involved with Weir going forward (industry gossip had Pelletier leaving with Weir) are “inaccurate,” though he adds his friendship with the golfer will endure.
“If anyone got this it was Mike,” Pelletier says. “I told him I wanted what he was — a place away where you can go fishing and skiing and see your family. We’ve had our family over five provinces and eight cities. We’re just going home.”
Update: The Globe’s Lorne Rubenstein reports on Pelletier’s departure. The story appeared on the Globe’s website late yesterday afternoon, but is not in today’s paper:
As for Weir, Pelletier said he intends to remain in close contact and to look for opportunities for him to design courses along with his associate Ian Andrew. He referred to Weir’s portfolio and reputation as rock solid.
Pelletier said he’s moving, in part, because his heart is in B.C. He used to run the Nicklaus North and Mayfair Lakes courses in the province. He also ran the Canadian Tour’s B.C. Tel Pacific Open.
My wife is a B.C. girl, Pelletier said, And we have a remote cabin there. This move is all about family and quality of life. We’ve moved the kids around a lot, and I’ve travelled so much. I felt regret when I was away from them.
Still, Pelletier doesn’t intend to retire.
I have a lot left in me, he said. But you can never regret a decision you make for your family.