It’s a real challenge when the parents let go…

I dropped in to see Flory Pavlik the other day.

Flory hails from Czechoslovakia and his wife, Wilma, from Yorkton, Saskatchewan. But these are real Barrie people. Just like me. We met back in 1972 when Wilma Pavlik invited me to their home for a discussion. I had recently been appointed Editor of a struggling, privately owned weekly tabloid called The Banner. We were all newly married, not yet considering parenthood, and eager to carve out our professional place in our community of choice.

Wilma had an interesting proposal. And she went about it the right way. First, a sunny living room. And good coffee. Then Wilma placed in my hands three sample columns on consumerism. Called “Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax…” Wilma’s three column ideas struck a note that was novel in the 70’s, that the consumer had buying power and buying choice.

Anyway, to make a long happy story a little shorter, Wilma became a new columnist for The Banner, and launched us into a happy association where one bright woman was able to use her interest and her writing skill to educate The Banner’s thousands of readers. Wilma went on to receive an Ontario Weekly Newspapers Award for her columns.

And we became good friends with The Pavliks. Flory and Wilma, meanwhile, were converting their unfinished basement to their professional workspace, a home based office long before there was even a word for such a thing. They forged new territory with their marketing services, creating for their clients innovative advertising. And, Flory began teaching night courses at Georgian College in business marketing.

They always impressed me because of their commitment to democracy, and their appreciation of Canadian freedoms. They wrote regularly to their Member of Parliament, their alderman, their Provincial Member. They attended public meetings. They lead people into thinking about things in new ways.

Within years of each other we began our families, and our busy, busy lives took new directions.

For the next two decades, my meetings with The Pavliks occurred at ski swaps (looking for good used equipment for our ski racing sons), at eastern ski resorts (bumping into each other in the cafeteria three years in a row!), at Barrie restaurants, and at funerals of friends in common. And each meeting gave us the opportunity for a brief update.

So, what makes The Pavliks newsworthy today? Well, the little son and little daughter that entered Flory and Wilma’s lives not so long ago are fully grown adults now, and have joined the family business after going off to expand their own knowledge bases. Their kids grew up pursuing with tremendous passion careers in alpine ski racing (for Ian) and figure skating (for Christa) and then studying business, computers, office administration and systems management. And while Flory and Wilma didn’t build their marketing business to turn it over to their kids, when their kids expressed interest, they sure opened the door.

Kids who grow up in family businesses sponge up the things like commitment, customer service, creativity, and the non-stop hours of discussion around clients. It’s almost part of their DNA!

And now The Pavliks have moved out of their home basement and into 2500 square feet of bright, airy office space in the formerTambrands building at St Vincent and Bell Farm Rd. And, while advertising design, placement and campaign was a real staple of the early business, today’s business activities involve electronic commerce, custom programming, networking and training.

The name has changed, too. FPA Group has become With both children joining the business, Flory and Wilma are moving into the back seat and handing over the steering wheel and gear shift to their kids. Ian (as president) provides the computer vision and sales drive while Christa’s attention to detail and administration support training leads her naturally to take over increasing amounts of her father’s work.

The turning point in the family business really occurred when Ian called his dad from out west and asked him to fly out and drive home together. Flory packed his laptop and as they drove across the country, father listened to son; they hammered out a business plan on the laptop and discussed and pushed around the ways in which FPA could become

One wonders what point was underscored as they drove across the limitless prairies. What boundaries did they set for themselves aas they skipped through Manitoba. What ethics discussions occurred as they passed spectacular Lake Superior…

By the time they returned, Ian was committed to joining the business. With that decision, Ian brought the goal-centred commitment that saw him compete with the country’s best alpine racers, as his father did in Europe a generation before him.

Did Flory expect that both kids would join the family firm? Never! “I never expected that my kids would want to work in the business. What Wilma and I wanted for our kids was nice, happy, clean living with our relationships intact.”

Today, Flory and Wilma are both busy repositioning themselves in their business. Flory wants to continue his involvement, but in a reduced state, pulling away as his kids gain momentum. And Wilma is handling all the internet research and business ethics decision. But she’s doing it from the home front. is wasting no time gaining its strong position in the marketplace. With 16 employees involved in programming, training and computer networking, the future is exhilarating. The firm has written and developed the computer software program that serves Snow Valley Ski Resort so well. Other companies who are counted as clients include Kindred Industries, the Honda Van Plant, the offices of the Solicitor General, Native Affairs, and Attorney General and Ian is putting the finishing touches on a sales proposal for the telecommunications industry.

The face of marketing and advertising has changed radically for the Pavliks. A new company, new visions, an eye on the future with a foot in the past… it’s a dream come true for the young couple moving to Barrie in the early 70’s and retiring here a generation later.

Thanks, Flory. Thanks, Wilma.