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The stories that bind us

A page from WCEA’s first portfolio, which partners assembled by hand.

As West Coast Editorial Associates celebrates our 25th anniversary this year, we’ve been talking a lot about the partnership’s history. Past and current partners have shared stories and photos that have made us laugh (a lot), sometimes groan, and occasionally get a little sad when we think about partners who are no longer with us.

Some of the stories make us remember how we have supported each other through difficult situations—pitching in to meet a tight deadline, stepping up to accomplish a necessary administrative task, comforting each other through personal or professional challenges.

Others are about how and why WCEA made certain business decisions along the way, like becoming a limited liability partnership instead of adopting a different legal structure.

One story that stands out for me is about the portfolio that early partners assembled by hand to show to prospective clients. In addition to including resumés and work samples, which helped them explain to some clients what editors actually do, they used an X-Acto knife to slice out windows in the portfolio pages to insert partner photographs.

The portfolio—which few other editors used at the time—helped WCEA land several great clients, but it was the personal touch of the photos that seemed to make the biggest impression. WCEA has always been about the people as much as the high-quality work, and the portfolio showed clients both.

As the newest WCEA partner, I love hearing these stories. They help me understand and appreciate, even more than I did before I joined, the partnership’s special culture. I’m motivated to live up to the spirit in these stories, and to participate in the experiences that will generate new ones.

Some of us at WCEA work on corporate history book projects, and we see the power of stories in those organizations too. This year, for example, my partner Ruth Wilson wrote the 70th-anniversary book of Ledcor, the Vancouver-based construction company. Some of Ledcor’s stories are intertwined with Prairie history and the opening of the oil patch in Alberta.

I’ve also been working on a history book project for MNP, the fifth-largest accounting and consulting firm in Canada. While the book will commemorate MNP’s 60th anniversary when it is released in 2018, its main intent is to capture the stories that only some of its founders and long-time partners can tell about what has made MNP special and successful.

Similarly, even though WCEA’s founders are no longer among the active partner group, their stories bind past, present, and future members together in a way nothing else can.

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