Bob Tallman, Business Administration, 1976
He’s built a local business into a national retailer, cultivated a passionate base of customers through a tireless focus on service, and devoted himself to revitalizing his community and helping dozens of young people pursue their own career dreams.
That’s why Red River College is proud to name entrepreneur and philanthropist Bob Tallman as the 2012 recipient of our Distinguished Alumni Award.
Bob Tallman joined the family business, Princess Auto Ltd, in the mid-seventies, shortly after graduating from RRC with a diploma in Business Administration.
“I was the first in my family to be attending a post-secondary school,” he says. ”Our life had been focused around the family business, and I wanted to know something about business in general before I began working there on a full time basis.”
The investment in education paid off, as Bob and his brother Larry grew the small Winnipeg-based firm into a nationwide retail operation through the late-seventies and the eighties. Bob Tallman became the sole owner and CEO of Princess Auto in 1989.
Today, he oversees a network of 34 retail stores with over 1,800 staff specializing in industrial, garage and surplus items. The company prides itself on its diverse product assortment, boasting its one of the few places in the world where you can purchase a gas powered air compressor and an HDMI cable in the same building.
But it’s Princess Auto’s commitment to providing exceptional customer service that has earned it a cult-like following among shoppers, which is something Bob says was inspired by his time at RRC.
“I learned through my experiences at Red River College that a business ultimately is about the people who work in the business, the roles they play and most importantly, how they interact as a team,” he says. “It is probably the greatest lesson I learned at RRC, and has driven much of my strategy in building Princess Auto.”
As his business has grown, Bob has also shared his success with the community through his charitable efforts. He founded the Princess Auto Foundation to provide student bursaries for trades education at 12 Canadian colleges (including RRC), and Bob and his wife Cathy created the Tallman Foundation to support educational and community needs throughout Winnipeg.
“Today I look back and recognize that the opportunity to attend Red River College was a significant point in my life,” Tallman explains. “I’m very proud to be part of today’s Red River College through our foundations and my own personal involvement.”