He was “one of the original bike boys.” At least, that’s what the 1971 Fort High yearbook had to say about David Taylor.
Now his company, Pacific and Western Credit Corp., the fastest-growing independent financial institution in Canada, just loaned the Town of Fort Frances $4.4-million for its debenture.
They’re shooting to become the largest alternative to a bank-owned trust company in Canada—a goal Taylor figured they’d reach in two years.
And he insisted it all happened by “a quirk of fate.”
“Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing here,” Taylor laughed from his London, Ont. office Monday.
A self-proclaimed science guy (he had a lab set up in his backyard when he was younger), Taylor said he had no inclination to study finance. In fact, he earned a degree in biology from Lakehead University and was working on his Master’s, focusing on the migratory bird.
He’d just finished up a contract with the Ministry of Natural Resources on aging white fish and needed a job to get him through the summer.
No biology jobs were available but he was told the Bank of Montreal was hiring bankers down the hall.
“I got my only suit on and tried my best to look like a business person," he joked. "And I got hired.”
The bank took a shine to him, he said, and his summer job stretched into something more permanent. They also did a lot of in-house training, with Taylor taking his Master’s in Business Administration in Saskatchewan before transferring back to southern Ontario.
Eager to try something new, he helped a British bank open a branch in London, Ont. and then took it over as vice-president.
“Then the British bank started to make noises that Canada was a non-strategic market,” he remarked, adding he saw what was coming.
That was when Taylor started looking for a small trust company to take over, mainly for the purpose of continuing to serve the customers of the British bank.
In fact, Pacific and Western moved into the same building once the British bank pulled out, and Taylor noted they kept many of the same staff.
In 1993, he acquired Pacific and Western Trust Co., a company he described as being in the “winding down stage.” He changed the strategic direction immediately, and since then, its market capital has grown more than 100 times.
“There’s no growth constraint in the foreseeable future," he admitted. "[And] we’ve grown considerably in the last year.”
They target niche markets—especially public-sector financing—the big banks don’t well serve, Taylor said. The $4.4 million the town wanted, he noted, wasn’t a large enough amount to attract the “big guys.”
Of particular interest are northern and Arctic communities, which allows him to enjoy another passion—flying. He often pilots one of his three planes north to talk first-hand with communities and groups looking for financing.
Sometimes his brother, John, accompanies him, or one of his three sons, Colin (21), Brian (18) or Dylan (13). Other times he goes alone.
Often he will stop off in Fort Frances to refuel. And every summer he returns to vacation at Coppen’s Resort at Bear’s Pass.
Although much has changed since his high school days here, Taylor doesn’t worry about whether he made the right choice to change professions.
“I’ve been in the game now for 20 years and I’m quite comfortable with it,” he said.
While much has changed since his backyard lab, some habits die hard. “One of the original bike boys” still holds on to his high school passion.
“I still have the same model of motorbike,” he admitted, referring to the restored 650 Triumph Bonneville.