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Ward Brandow, a native of Winnipeg, arrived in Calgary in the late ’50s representing Stovel-Advocate Publishing and its Oil in Canada magazine, which would eventually morph into Oilweek.
Soon after that transaction, Ward moved over to Southam Business Publications, which at that time was a 50 per cent partner with Carl Nickle who published the Daily Oil Bulletin, The Rig Locator, and the Canadian Oil Register, among others.
This match, forged in 1965, would leave a lasting mark on the western Canadian oil industry—combining the industry voice of Nickle’s publications and Brandow’s promotional expertise.
After a few years with Southam Publications as sales manager for western Canada, Ward went out on his own where he launched several industry magazines including Propane Canada and Energy Processing Canada. In 1975, he sold his interest in Stovel-Advocate Publishing Alberta to his partner, Jim Armstrong, and returned to Southam Publications as publisher of Canadian Petroleum Magazine.
This alliance with Southam and the eventual evolution to Southex Exhibitions, their trade show arm, lasted the rest of Brandow’s working life.
On the magazine side with Southam, Ward directed the early growth of the Nickle’s Energy Group, adding Energy in Canada, Regulatory Times, and the GeoPlat Bulletin to the stable of Nickle publications, which was headed by the flagship Daily Oil Bulletin.
On the trade show side, Ward extended the Southex brand with a range of exhibitions including a joint venture with the Instrument Society of America—the ISA Calgary Exhibition, the Alberta Process Equipment Show, Big ’59, and the High Arctic Oil & Gas Show in Inuvik. He was instrumental in the purchase of Intercan and the Edmonton Petroleum Show, as well as its move to Calgary and the purchase of the East Coast Offshore Show in Halifax. After retiring from Southam, Ward and a partner started the International Pipeline Exposition, which they sold to dmg world media in 2003.
In 1966, the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede saluted the oil industry with an on-site exhibition of working equipment. “Flare Square” was produced by oil industry volunteers headed by Gerry D’Arcy and Bob Laidlaw with the support of Southam and care of Nickle Publications.
That year, more than 250,000 people passed under a flame-topped derrick that served as the entrance to 3.5 acres of exhibit space where over $20 million worth of oil and gas equipment was on display. And at the same time in the Stampede Corral ice rink everyone enjoyed the music of Sammy Kaye and his orchestra. For many Stampede revelers it was their first contact with the petroleum industry.
Based on the success of Flare Square, Brandow secured the rights to the event plus the appropriate dates on Stampede Park to mount a trade show. With the sponsorship of the Petroleum Society of CIM and the endorsement of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, the National Petroleum Show was launched in 1968.
Southex Exhibitions, the organizer of that first event, which filled the Big Four Building and several rows of outside space, never thought it was destined to become the biggest oil and gas show in the world.
Today, the National Petroleum Show, now known as the Global Petroleum Show, under the ownership of dmg world media, attracts more than 50,000 attendees and 2,000 exhibitors who transact billions of dollars worth of business and bring millions of dollars to the city of Calgary.
Having lost the bid to host the 1997 World Petroleum Congress, Ray Cej and his volunteer committee approached Brandow and his team at Southex to develop the bid package for the 2000 World Petroleum Congress in Calgary. With the outstanding bid package prepared by Brandow’s team, Calgary won the right to host this world-renowned event. He retired in 1995 as the vice-president of the western region for Southam Business Publications and Southex Exhibitions.
In the wider community, Ward has been actively involved with a number of organizations, including the Heritage Park Board, the Youth Talent Committee of the Calgary Stampede, the Canadian Mental Health Association, and was the “bagman” for a former Calgary alderman. He has also been involved with many national and provincial marketing, publishing, advertising, and trade and consumer show associations.
As a leader, Ward is truly gifted. Extremely rare is the business leader who commands respect, gets deep affection, and delivers bottom-line results. Colleagues, past and present, credit Ward’s steady support and encouragement for building their confidence and helping their careers.