I still think about apple fritters.
Actually, whenever I drive by a Timmy’s I think of them and find my mouth watering at the thought. They are wonderful. Do you remember when Tim’s stopped making real doughnuts on site and starting shipping them from a central baking facility to be warmed up at the franchise? It was just a way to cut costs and make more money but I was only worried about one thing. What would happen to my apple fritter? What would a half-baked apple fritter taste like? I knew it would be worse but how bad could it be? Could it possibly be the same?
No worries. The amount of sugar was so dense, so fantastic, so totally ridiculous I hardly noticed. It was smaller and frumpy by comparison, and so sometimes I bought two when I used to buy one. Nothing could destroy the apple fritter.
Those were the good old days.
I didn’t know the sugar was killing me and just as addictive as cocaine.
I don’t know where I had my first one. Was it Moncton or North Bay or Sudbury? Parry Sound? It could have been anywhere. There was a time when we owned newspapers in many markets and there was a Tim’s within reach of every single last one of them. There was no escape.
There were many days when I would visit one of our markets and feel much better about the coffee and doughnuts than the financial statements.
So, like most of you, Timmy’s was a part of life itself.
Of course, the back story was never that pretty.
Tim, the fabulous defenceman from Cochrane, did speed off the Queensway (near St. Catharines) with an open bottle of vodka in the front seat and two and a half times the legal limit in his blood, along with some standard issue stimulants to boot. But back then, before WikiLeaks, there were two sets of rules and much was unsaid. The police never mentioned the drink, and the autopsy wasn’t released for 30 years. I mean, the man could play hockey and he did win Stanley Cups in Toronto. We didn’t need to know more. Ron Joyce, his partner, was an ex-policeman. That’s how it worked.
Ron bought shares from Tim’s wife. Many years later she sued him saying she was taken advantage of, but the suit was dismissed. There have been bitter lawsuits from franchisees about one thing or another for many years, and so, Timbit hockey players notwithstanding, Tim Hortons Inc. has never been angelic. It is as human and greedy and crass as the next $3-billion company.
Until recently, however, it was our multibillion-dollar company.
Wherein lies the rub.
Why is it Canadians are unable to compete? Why do we flop or sell out with such regularity? This is the second time for Tim’s.
I have a conflict of interest on this sellout saga. One of the companies I am an investor in is an innovator of a new environmentally friendly coffee cup.
For a time we worked with Tim’s. They were helpful, available and interested — but mostly they were here with decision-makers, and a research and innovation department. They were Canadian and they were accessible.
That entire layer of well-paying jobs involving intellectual capital and innovation will be wiped out in the coming dismantling of the corporation. That’s how you engineer this stuff.
The takeover of Tim’s is very straightforward. It is hedge funds playing monopoly. One, headed by Bill Ackman (of CP Railway fame), encouraged the sale of Tim’s from Wendy’s 10 years ago because it didn’t work, and now encourages the purchase of Tim’s (now as a shareholder in Burger King) because it will work for him.
It’s nonsense. Tim’s is better run and more profitable, but it is the seller not the buyer. It’s capitalism gone mad and we don’t know how to play.
We are frittering away our future. I noticed on Regent Street last week my mouth no longer watered.