The Roaring Twenties
General Victor Wentworth Odlum and Colonel Albert Malcolm ‘Buster’ Brown established Odlum Brown in 1923. The ‘Roaring Twenties’ marked an era of exuberant optimism and rapid technological change that followed the First World War. However, on October 29, 1929, Black Tuesday - the Great Crash of the stock market - signalled the beginning of the Great Depression.
The Dirty Thirties and War Years
The 'Dirty Thirties' witnessed an economic collapse that brought about the Great Depression. Many Canadians were left unemployed, destitute, and hungry. With the onset of World War Two in 1939, Odlum Brown & Co. suspended business operations in order for General Odlum and Colonel Brown and their employees to fulfill their military obligations.
The Time of Peace and Prosperity
In 1946, Odlum Brown Investments Limited was reborn by Colonel ‘Buster’ Brown and his son, Colonel William ‘Tom’ Brown. The post-war years marked a period of transition for Canadians. Financial prosperity facilitated a major surge in the Canadian population, known as the ‘baby boom’. Tom Brown assumed the leadership of Odlum Brown following Buster’s retirement in 1958.
The Swinging Sixties
In the '60s, Canada celebrated its centennial, 100 years as a nation, and adopted the present-day maple leaf flag. It was a time of buoyant markets and growth for Odlum Brown as we opened offices in Victoria and Chilliwack, and acquired Okanagan Investments, establishing a presence in Kelowna.
In 1958, Odlum Brown bought a seat on the Vancouver Stock Exchange, and in 1965, the company merged with Thomas B. Read & Co. to become Odlum Brown and T.B. Read Ltd. Tom Brown was President and CEO of the new company and George Sherwood was Vice President.
The Disco Era
As the music of the Bee Gees, ABBA, and Donna Summer hit the radio, the turbulent times of high inflation and the energy crisis hit the stock market. Odlum Brown’s strategy of holding quality, value-driven investments for our clients allowed them to fare better than most.
In 1971, Odlum Brown bought a seat on the Toronto Stock Exchange and later a seat on the Alberta Stock Exchange in 1979. George Sherwood was promoted to President and CEO in 1975, followed by Tony Hepburn in 1978.
The Age of Technology
Computers experienced explosive growth in the ‘80s with the birth of the personal computer, video games and manufacturing automation. The '80s also marked the rebirth of the company in 1981, in the form of a name change to Odlum Brown Limited, the name we still use today.
The '80s saw interest rates soar to over 20 per cent, highs in the silver and gold markets, and major market corrections in both 1982 and 1987. In 1988, Odlum Brown established Odlum Brown Financial Services Limited to complement our valued investment advice with financial planning and insurance services; helping clients through the complexities of retirement, tax, and estate planning.
In 1987 we bought a seat on the Montreal Stock Exchange.
The Information Age
The public use of the Internet and the emergence of cellular phones marked the major technological advancements of the '90s, setting the stage for the information revolution of the coming decades.
In 1994, the firm’s research department established the hypothetical Odlum Brown Model Portfolio. ‘We aim to beat the TSE 300 Index. As value investors, we will buy quality companies that we believe are out-of-favour and undervalued,’ said Murray Leith, Executive Vice President and Director of Investment Research.
In 1998, we opened branches in Courtenay and Campbell River.
In 1999, Odlum Brown was recognized as one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies, a designation we still maintain today.
The New Millennium
Turning the clock to the new millennium proved to be an uneventful passage. The economy was not so lucky when the the dot-com bubble had burst in 2000. The year after, the Odlum Brown Model Portfolio was up 54%. ‘Investors who resist the temptation to chase trendy stocks of the day and instead put their money to work in quality,
out-of-favour companies will be the ones (who) generate above average returns,’ wrote Murray Leith in the March 2000 OB Report.
In 2001, Ross Sherwood became President and CEO and the following year Odlum Brown was recognized as one of the 25 Best Companies to work for in BC. In 2007, Debra Hewson was appointed to President and CEO and led the company through the credit crisis of 2008.
Under Debra Hewson’s leadership, Odlum Brown continues to adhere to the vision of the firm’s founders: ‘The investment industry, like the world in which it operates, has changed repeatedly over the years. Throughout this time,
Odlum Brown has chosen its own path, a path that was shaped by making decisions that were good for our clients, good for our advisors, and ultimately good for our firm.’ Sticking to this philosophy has led the firm to national recognition. Odlum Brown has been one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies since 1999. In 2017, Odlum Brown was recognized as one of Canada’s Most Admired™ Corporate Cultures.