Company Information

Great business documentaries

September 17, 2012 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Trying to find a good movie to watch can be difficult.  So, to save you some time here are a few movies, in no particular order, that I found to be informative, exciting and, at times, as thrilling as a crime novel:

   Bigbucksbigpharma-128x128This DVD pulls back the curtain on the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry to expose the ways that illness is used, manipulated, and in some instances created, for capital gain.  Focusing on the industry's marketing practices, media scholars and health professionals help viewers understand the ways in which direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising glamorizes and normalizes the use of prescription medication, and how it works in tandem with promotion to doctors.


DvdIn the devastating aftermath of the economic meltdown, The Warning sifts through the ashes for clues about why it happened and examines critical moments when it might have gone much differently.  Looking back into the 1990's, Frontline discovers early warnings of the crash and uncovers an intense battle between high-ranking members of the Clinton administration vs. one woman trying to sound the alarm about the need to regulate the emerging, highly complex, and lucrative derivatives markets, which would become the ticking time-bomb within the American economy.


 TappedIs access to clean drinking water a basic human right, or a commodity that should be bought and sold like any other article of commerce? This timely documentary is a behind-the-scenes  look into the unregulated and unseen world of an industry that aims to privatize and sell back the one resource that ought never to become a commodity: our water.  From the plastic production to the ocean in which so many of these bottles end up, this inspiring documentary trails the path of the bottled water industry and the communities which were the unwitting chips on the table.



       This documentary dives into the bustling world of late nights, long hours and hard partying to chronicle the rise of a new force in Indian society--the telemarketers. Fast-paced, gritty and fun, this film is a compelling insider's look at youth culture in India. "Here you'll learn accent coaching to sound less ethnic, enjoy culture lessons that feature a viewing of "Crocodile Dundee" and discover that if you can keep the customer on the phone to say no six times, you've almost got your sale.  Watching the highs and lows of the business is compelling, as is the look at Western consumer  values corrupting Indian youth." (NOW magazine)


 Dvd2Our civilization's addiction to oil puts it on a collision course with disaster.  Compelling, intelligent, and highly disturbing, this film visits with the world's top experts and comes to a startling but logical conclusion--our industrial society, built on cheap and readily available oil , must be completely re-imagined and overhauled.  The world's oil supplies are peaking and the crisis of global shortage looms; we are running out of oil and we don't have a plan.


 Dvd3Available in nearly 200 countries, Coca-Cola sells an average of one billion bottles, cans and glasses of their product daily, with archrival Pepsi close on its heels. This documentary looks at the development of these two industry giants and the story of their legendary rivalry. Discover the changes the Coca-Cola formula has undergone over the years--including the controversy over its once high cocaine content--and find out how a massive business blunder by Coca-Cola allowed Pepsi to step into the spotlight.


Dvd4This documentary brings to life the story of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian immigrant anarchists who were accused of a murder in 1920 and executed in Boston in 1927 after a notoriously prejudiced trial.  Their ordeal came to symbolixe the bigotry and intolerance directed at immigrants and dissenters in America.  Millions of people around the world protested on their behalf, and now 80 years later, their story continues to have great resonance, as civil liberties and the rights of immigrants are again under attack.


Dvd5 One of the greatest scandals in American corporate history, this DVD draws upon the wealth of insider interviews and archival material to show how Enron, once the nation's seventh largest corporate entity, essentially faked its bookkeeping to report profits that never existed. Using various techniques Enron executives tried to hide massive losses that eventually toppled the company and left 20,000 employees jobless.




Learning About Retail

September 10, 2012 | Margaret W. | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Are you interesting in starting a retail store, or growing an already existing retail establishment? One way of learning how is by delving into the experiences of those who have been there before you. Here are three books that look at the experiences, and lessons learned, of successful retailers. Check them out!

By Invitation Only

The Zappos Experience

Competing In Tough Times

By Invitation Only The Zappos Experience Competing In Tough Times

By the way, Enterprise Toronto will be hosting a seminar on September 17th, 2012 from 10:00 AM to 11:30 entitled Building A Winning Retail Plan. The session takes place at the North York Civic Centre, Committee Room 3, 5100 Yonge Street, Toronto. Join them, and learn the steps in starting your own retail business!


Target: Aiming for Canada

August 27, 2012 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

In 2011 Target bought 189 Zellers stores across Canada and is planning on renovating between 125-135 of them to open Target here in 2013 and 2014. 

Founder George Draper Dayton opened the "Dayton Dry Goods Company" in Minneapolis in 1902.  The store became known for dependable products, fair business practices and a sense of community.  In 1918 Dayton establishes the Dayton Foundation because he believed in creating a better world and setting an example in helping others. It became the Target Foundation in 2000 and reached a giving-milestone in 2007: $3 million per week to various charities and organizations.

After his death in 1938 Dayton's son and grandsons took over the store and grew it into a nationwide retailer and became known as Dayton's. In 1954, to meet the needs of suburban families, Dayton's began expanding beyond Minneapolis to the suburbs. By the 1960's Dayton's leadership decided to create a different kind of store by moving away from the department store format to a new kind of mass-market discount store that would cater to value-oriented shoppers. In 1962 this new store becomes known as Target and it's logo, a bulls-eye. After a decade of growth Dayton's goes public in 1967 with five autonomous divisions: Dayton's department stores, Target stores, B. Dalton Bookseller, Dayton Jewelers and Dayton Development Company.  Over the years Dayton's has continued to expand its Target stores by joining forces with other retailers and continuing to change its product lines and store format to meet the changing needs of its customers.

Target is the second largest discount retailer in the U.S. after Walmart, so it is inevitable that domestic retailers like Canadian Tire, Sears, The Bay and others will feel some pressure when Target first opens its doors in Canada. We can only hope that they will weather the storm.

Read about Target and other retail stores operating in Canada:


  Target Target2 Target3 Target4

Target Target3 Target2

Socially responsible corporate citizens

July 30, 2012 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


Both Macleans and Corporate Knights recently published a list of the top 50 socially responsible corporations in Canada. They based their selections on a broad range of environmental, social and governance indicators. The listed companies are either Canadian or a wholly owned subsidiary of a foreign-owned company with significant operations or brand presence in Canada.

Tim Hortons has for many years now been raising money for their Children's Foundation which provides thousands of children from disadvantaged homes an opportunity to have a camping adventure. As well, they are working with farmers in Brazil, Columbia, Guatemala and Honduras to promote sustainable coffee production. And then there is Bombardier Inc. who builds emission-free urbanpower for light rail transit, buses and cars. And Loblaw Companies Ltd. who partners with the World Wildlife Fund and the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre by sponsoring the annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.  The Gap Inc. protects local waterways by laundering their denim items in specially treated water. They are also committed to safe and fair working conditions by monitoring factories that produce Gap-branded clothing. In order to reduce emissions from commuting, Telus Corp. plans to have 70 per cent of its employees work part-time from home by 2015.  Its national headquarters in Vancouver is currently being redeveloped to include a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum 22-storey tower and a LEED Gold 46-storey residential tower.

Businesses know that savvy consumers make ethical choices when purchasing products and services and are learning that it is no longer "business as usual". Be it retailers that have a good relationship with consumers by having a plan in place to deal with waste and greenhouse emissions, or mining companies that protect their workers and their communities, or telecom/electronic companies that have developed environmentally friendly electronic products and a management plan for electronic waste.  All of these changes can positively affect a company's bottom line.

Are you looking for ways to become a good corporate citizen or do you want to learn more about companies that respect the world in which they do business?  Here are a few titles to get you started:

Csr4 Csr5 Csr6 Csr7

Csr8 Csr9 Respect Respect2



The World's Most Respected Companies

July 27, 2012 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


Barron's financial newspaper recently published an article on the world's most respected companies based on a survey of 116 money managers across the U.S. The criteria voted on are: strong management, sound business strategy, ethical business practices, competitive edge and revenue and profit growth. It will not come as a surprise, then, that Apple Inc. has come out on top due, in large part, to the highly successful launch of the new iPad and iPhone.  The death of a company's founder often leads to a lack of innovation and sales leadership. Not so with Apple. Their surging share price nearly doubled from last year.

In the number two spot is IBM, then McDonald's, Amazon and Caterpillar. Several large U.S. companies lost their coveted high rankings due to a variety of factors. Berkshire-Hathaway, for example, dropped to No. 15 from last year's No. 3 spot because of Warren Buffett's support for higher taxes for the rich. Google has also lost some growth potential in advertising revenues with competition from Facebook and other social-networking sites and, as a result, dropped to No. 16 from No.6 last year.The Royal Bank of Canada is Canada's contribution to the list at No. 38, then the Toronto-Dominion Bank at No. 45, and the Bank of Nova Scotia at No. 62. It's probably best to take these rankings with a grain of salt, says Charles Bobrinskoy, research director at Ariel Investments. He says that surveys are backward-looking and don't take into consideration that a widely hated stock might just be a good  investment opportunity.

If you're interested in reading about these companies and how they got to where they are today, take a look at these books:

Companies Companies2 Companies3 Companies4


Thinking of investing in an IPO? It pays to do your homework.

July 16, 2012 | Teresa | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

IPOThe recent publicity over Facebook's initial public offering (IPO), and its uneven performance post IPO, makes one wonder how does one evaluate an IPO objectively?  Many people, despite analysts predictions about the value of the stock being over priced, took the leap and invested. One of the keys to smart investing is doing your homework.  And while many technology or new companies don't have a long financial track record to go on, there are still many sources that you can consult to garner information about a company about to go public.   And many are available with the use of your library card.  Listed below are just a few of the great resources TPL subscribes to.


MergentFor companies trading on United States exchanges, or who are considering going public, Mergent offers a wealth of information, including annual reports, industry analysis, and EDGAR filings.  An at a glance profile of companies will give you key financials, executives, and a spreadsheet of competitors with relevant financials for comparison with the company who you are looking at. Available remotely from TPL website with a library card and in library.  


Business_company_rc_lgThe venerable Business and Company Resource Center offers a snap shot of a company, as well as tabs on recent articles on the company broken down by topic, a history of the company, industry overview, rankings, as well as analyst house investment reports.  This database is international in scope of the companies covered.  Available remotely from TPL website with a library card and in library.


ValueLineThe Value Line service has been around since the 1930s and is one of the most trusted and asked for stock guides that TPL subscribes to.  This source gives a concise, one page overview of a company, including historic stock tracking, analysts views, analysis of specific industries, as well as newsletters.  Available remotely from TPL website with a library card and in library. 


Financial post logoFP Advisor, a product of the Financial Post, offers a wealth of information on Canadian companies, including historic information, key personnel and financials, new issues and supplemental databases that include Crosbie Mergers & Acquisitions in Canada, Equifax Commercial Law Record, and ProFile Canada. Available remotely from TPL website with a library card and in library.


 Sedar welcome4Sedar provides access to public documents for companies across Canada.  Maintained by the Canadian Securities Administrators,  this website contains documents filed since 1997.  It includes profiles of public companies as well as Investment Fund Groups.  One can browse or search by the name of the company.  Freely available on the internet.


Oscbull-midA source for a list of Ontario based companies IPOs is the OSC Bulletin.  This periodical, published weekly by the Ontario Securities Commission, holds a wealth of information on company filings.  Each issue has a chapter (Chapter 11 to be precise) that contains a handy list of IPOs, New Issues and Secondary Financings.  Copies are available in the Business Department at North York Central Library and in the Business, Science and Technology Department at the Toronto Reference Library.

Check these out and become a savvy investor. 


Finding Canadian Company Histories in Print

June 11, 2012 | Christina | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

In two previous blogs, Finding Company Histories dated April 12, 2012 and Finding Company Histories at UWO's Web Site dated June 7, 2012, electronic resources were reviewed in relation to finding elusive company histories.

For those interested in finding Canadian company histories in print, there are a number of resources available in the Toronto Public Library system that may be of assistance in addition to the electronic resources.

They are:

Business Information Centre, Toronto Reference Library.  Company Files Index.  Toronto : Toronto Reference Library, 20--. 

Uncatalogued.  Please ask for assistance at the Business, Science & Technology Department's Information Desk, 3rd Floor, Toronto Reference Library.

Approximately 300 files containing Canadian corporate ephemera are available in the Business, Science & Technology Department at the Toronto Reference Library.  Each file is unique.  These files may contain pamphlets with historical information. 

For example, the file on General Motors Canada Limited includes:  "History of the Automobile", "GM in Canada : The Early Years", "75 Years of Progress", "My Eighty Years on Wheels by R.S. McLaughlin as told to Eric Hutton", "GM of Canada War Album", and more.

Grant, Tina, ed.  Canadian Company Histories.  New York; Toronto : Gale Canada, c1996.

Includes 80 of Canada's "most important companies".  Provides information on the founding, development, key events, significant people, historical performance, and future direction of the listed companies.  An Index to Companies and Persons as well as an Index to Industries are available.

Metropolitan Toronto Library.  Researching Older Canadian Companies at the Metropolitan Toronto Library.  Toronto : Metropolitan Toronto Library Board, Reference Division, Business Dept., 1984.

This is a guide intended to help locate information on older Canadian companies that are no longer in existence or for which annual reports are not readily available.

Metropolitan Toronto Library.  Business Dept.  Business Articles Index.  Toronto : Metropolitan Toronto Library.  Business Department, 19--.

Uncatalogued.  Please ask for assistance at the Business, Science & Technology Department's Information Desk, 3rd Floor, Toronto Reference Library.

Citations to articles are listed on catalogue cards.  Coverage is from pre-1965 to 1975.  Articles are indexed from selected magazine sources.  Catalogue cards are organized by subject, company name, and personal name.

Metropolitan Toronto Library.  Business Dept.  Newspaper Clippings and Pamphlets : Pre-1978.  Toronto : Metropolitan Toronto Library.  Business Department, 19--.

This publication is an index to newspaper clippings and pamphlets on approximately 750 Canadian companies.  The clippings and pamphlets are on microfiche and are located in the Business, Science & Technology Department on the 3rd floor of the Toronto Reference Library

Newcomen Society of the United States.  Index of Publications : The Newcomen Society of the United States.  New York : The Society, v.

The index covers company histories published from 1933 (Publication # 1) to 1984 (Publication # 1234).  Canadian company histories are included.  

The Toronto Reference Library's holdings are from 1948 (Publication #103) to 1998 (Publication # 1516). But, TPL's holdings are incomplete.  Please ask for assistance at the Business, Science & Technology Department's Information Desk on the 3rd floor of the Toronto Reference Library.

Toronto Public Libraries.  Early Canadian Companies : A Guide to Sources of Information in the Toronto Public Libraries on Selected Canadian Companies over 100 Years Old.  Toronto : Toronto Public Library, 1967.

The sources of information include annual reports, clippings, pamphlets, books, and articles.

Also, remember to search the Toronto Public Library catalogue for books or other materials on the company; i.e. search by author and subject. 


Finding Company Histories at UWO's Web Site

June 7, 2012 | Christina | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Johnston Library's staff at the University of Western Ontario have developed a very useful and impressive web page on Books About Companies.  It includes links to:

Business and History at Western:  A Guide to Selected Resources in the UWO Library System (1992).
This bibliography is designed to direct the reader to the considerable resources in the University of Western Ontario Library System that are related to Business History generally and the histories of companies specifically.  If there is a title of interest, check the Toronto Public Library catalogue to determine if it is available in the TPL system.  If not, go to a local library branch and request an Interlibary Loan for the desired item.

Alphabetical List of Related Companies
After 1992, more company-related books were discovered at UWO and many more were published.   A lengthy list of company histories is available by scrolling to the bottom of the Books About Companies web page.  Company histories that are often found in reference works or in books about industries are included.

In addition to printed company histories, annotations in the lists may include reviews of the books and short bibliographies, links to articles that have been scanned by staff in UWO's Business Library, and obituaries of individuals who were important in relation to a company.  Most of the obituaries are for Canadian business persons.

For example, under the heading Alphabetical List of Related Companies, click on:

A and go to the entry for Arnold Brothers, a Toronto company.  There is a link to a full-text article about this company.

H and go to the entry for Harris Steel Group.  There is a notice for Milton Harris, the company's founder with a reference to a thorough obituary.

Basic Indexes

Johnston Library's staff have also created some basic indexes.  They are:

Index by Industry
Choose an industry and see what related company historical information has been found.

Company and Industry
See what industry a company is associated with.

Canadian Company Index
Companies which are seen to have, or have had, a significant Canadian connection.

There are also links to:

Company Historical Profiles from the Canadian Register of Commerce and Industry (1959)
This title included profiles of several hundred Canadian commercial and industrial companies.  Some of the profiles were scanned and were added to the alphabethical lists of company histories produced by UWO's Business Library.  A print copy of the Canadian Register of Commerce and Industry is available at the Toronto Reference Library. 

Company Historical Profiles from Industrial Canada (1967)
In May 1967, the Canadian Manufacturers' Association published a special centennial issue of the periodical Industrial Canada.  The issue included 100+ profiles of Canadian companies that were over 100 years old.  These profiles were scanned and can be found in the alphabetical lists of company histories produced by UWO's Business Library.  A print copy of the special issue is also available at the Toronto Reference Library.

It is noted "none of these lists or indexes are exhaustive and we are sure we have missed some companies". But, this web page does provide excellent tools and references for those interested in finding company histories; especially Canadian company histories.


Shopping for bargains

May 31, 2012 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...


Finding bargains can be a time-consuming exercise, be it clipping coupons for groceries, checking flyers for sales, or simply shopping at discount retailers.  Knowing where to find deals can save you a lot of time.  One of my favourite discount stores is Dollarama. 

Salim Rossy, who fled Lebanon in the early 1900s and moved to Montreal, opened his first store in 1910.  S.Rossy Inc. General Stores, similar in nature to Woolworth's, grew to 44 stores by the late 1980s.  During the 1960's and 1970's they faced major competition from Woolco and Kmart as well as Walmart, which first came to Canada in 1974.  In response to these competitors Rossy made the brilliant decision to focus on one price point--$1.00--and to call his new chain Dollarama.  The first Dollarama, located in Matane in the Gaspe region, was an instant hit. Since then Dollarama stores have expanded across Canada. There are now 667 stores in Canada (Retail Chains in Canada,) and new stores are being added weekly. Current president Larry Rossy was ahead of his time by sourcing merchandise without the middleman and travelling directly to China and other Asian countries to buy stock. This allowed him to keep his costs low and pass on the savings to the consumer. To read more about this Canadian success story checkout this recent article in the "Globe and Mail".


Or to read about other discount retailers, check out these titles:

Bargain Bargain2 Bargain3 Bargain5

To find out where else you can find great deals join Cathie Mostowyk of the Shoestring Shopping Guide on June 14th from 2:00-3:30 pm at the North York Central Library. Free. Call 416-395-5613 to register.



The rise of the department store

May 4, 2012 | Raya | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

(Le Bon Marché, Paris, 1867)

Can you picture a world without Walmart, Zellers or The Bay? It's hard to believe that there was a time when people bought what they needed from local markets, small shops and even directly from craftsmen and street vendors.  During the Elizabethan age shopping was about acquiring basic necessities, not self-indulgence.  By the eighteenth century shops became more elaborate allowing customers opportunities to browse and to be enticed by artistically displayed goods.

During the Industrial Revolution people started to earn more money and a middle class began to emerge.   This, in addition to cheaper factory-produced goods, created an expanded consumer demand that could no longer be met by small retail outlets. In fact, the department store introduced people to the fine arts and to new styles and ideas. Up until the 1830's shops tended to be specialized but when Aristide Boucicaut founded Le Bon Marché in 1852 in Paris, now considered to be the world's first department store, retailers everywhere sat up and took notice. Le Bon Marche inspired the growth of department stores around the world with names like Macy's, Marshall Field's, Strawbridge & Clothier, Lewis's of Liverpool, Eaton's and many others. Over the years department stores have provided a wide range of consumer goods from fabrics to plants and automobiles to airplanes. Although the recent recession has taken its toll on department stores, they show a determination to survive by continuing to reinvent themselves.

To read more about department stores, check out these books:

Dept Dept1 Dept2

Dept3 Dept4 Dept5


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