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# 289 James Pattison $7.75B

Random fact: First job was as trumpet player in youth gospel camps.


Pattison is the owner of Jim Pattison Group, a conglomerate with C$14 billion ($9.7 billion) of annual sales. The company is the largest car dealer in western Canada and publisher of Guinness World Records. Pattison also has a stake in Westshore Terminals Investment, operator of the largest coal export facility in Canada.

As of :
Last change +$34.6M ( +0.5%)
YTD change +$604M ( +8.4%)
Biggest asset Save-On Foods
Country / Region Canada
Age 94
Industry Media & Telecom
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

James Pattison's net worth of $7.75B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

Pattison's fortune is derived from his ownership of the Jim Pattison Group, a conglomerate that operates in a dozen industries. The group has annual sales of C$14 billion ($9.7 billion), according to its website in January 2023. 

The valuation is based on analysis of more than 10 business segments derived from information disclosed by competitors, analyst estimates, legal and regulatory disclosures and non-financial metrics, such as headcount and market share.

Where publicly traded peer companies exist, the businesses were compared to the financial valuations of competitors in the market. In cases where there are no publicly traded peers, valuations are based on recent sales of similar companies and the stock performance of public peers.

Pattison also controls shares in publicly traded companies in Canada. Most are identified through regulatory disclosures, including 51% of Canfor, a forest-products company, and 38% of coal export terminal Westshore Terminals. Westshore Terminals has the largest coal export facility in Canada, according to its website.

Pattison didn't comment on the extent of his wealth in a 2020 interview with Bloomberg. 


Family: Married, 3 children

Born during the Great Depression in rural Saskatchewan to American homesteader parents, James "Jimmy" Pattison turned a youthful willingness to work hard into a love of selling cars, through which he built one of the largest fortunes in Canada. Soon after Pattison was born, the financial ruin caused by the Depression sent his parents westward to Vancouver. There he accompanied his father on piano-repair calls during the day and was home-schooled by his mother in the evening.

Before he turned 10, Pattison earned extra money working odd jobs in food and periodicals -- industries he would later come to dominate -- selling seeds and magazine subscriptions, and being a swamper, the person who tossed newspaper bundles off delivery trucks to newsstands.

As an undergraduate at the University of British Columbia, Pattison paid his tuition by fixing up and selling used cars to fellow students for $150. That led to a job managing a GM dealership, which he took rather than completing his studies. Within a few years, according to his biography with the Horatio Alger society, which honored him in 2004, he was recruited to manage a pots and pans business for four times what he made selling cars. Unhappy to have left the car business, he returned to the dealership, vowing to only work at what he loved.

He persuaded a bank manager in 1961 to lend him an amount eight times the bank's loan limit, enabling him to purchase his own Pontiac dealership. Pattison grew familiar with advertising by marketing cars on radio. By the end of the decade, he bought a radio station and an illuminated signs business, which he felt were natural extensions of his car operation. By the end of the decade, he acquired the Overwaitea grocery store chain and a regional periodical distributorship.

In the decades that followed, he expanded those businesses and added divisions in food packaging, hotels and entertainment -- the Ripley's Believe It or Not and Guinness Book of World Records brands -- as well as a stake in Canada forest products company, Canfor.

Pattison owns the largest billboard company in Canada, the largest magazine distributor on the North American continent, grocery stores, a food distribution business, a fishing fleet and seafood brand in Canada, radio and television stations and more than a dozen auto dealerships in western Canada.

Except for a single minority investment that was bought by another company, Pattison told Bloomberg News in December 2012 that he hasn't sold an investment in 22 years. "We're operators, not investors," he said. A strong market position and return on invested capital are his primary investment metrics.

  • 1928 Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to American homesteader parents.
  • 1961 Persuades bank to exceed its loan cap to fund first car dealership.
  • 1967 Buys a neon sign maker and outdoor advertising company.
  • 1968 Expands into food business by acquiring Overwaitea grocery stores.
  • 1986 Holding company becomes Canada's largest individually owned firm.
  • 2009 Demise of competitor gives News Group half of U.S. periodical market.
  • 2013 Takes snack maker Sun-Rype private in deal valuing company at $78 million.
  • 2017 Annual sales exceed C$10 billion for the first time.