Blue Bomber Report Record: 3–15–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Right man for the job'

Business partner says Miller never backs down from a challenge

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Wade Miller's drive to excel is not a complicated matter according to his business partner of the last 11 years.

"Wade is very special in his passion for things," said Dale Driedger, who with the new acting CEO of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, co-founded Pinnacle, a staffing solutions and recruitment firm, in 2002. "When Wade has a passion for something, then he performs at a very high level.

"He's always up for the challenge; never backs down from a challenge. It motivates him. The bigger the challenge, the better."

Blue and Gold fans will like to hear that, given that Miller assumes control of the club with the 1-5 record six games into the CFL season.

The 11-season veteran of the Bombers, Miller was twice a CFL East Division all-star, holds a league record for special-team tackles and was inducted into the team's hall of fame in 2011.

Four years before he retired in 2006, he began his venture with Driedger, combining a player career with an emerging business career.

Driedger, also Pinnacle's president, was glowing in his assessment of Miller's business talents.

"That's the work ethic and passion he has," Driedger said. "He was committed to football, committed to us starting this business and he's tenacious.

"People have seen him on the field and that's what he's like in business, too. He has evolved into a senior executive-level business person here.

"He's always one to be educating himself. He's been working just as tenaciously on working and educating himself on all facets of the business we're in and everything to make us grow because he's a great visionary thinker. He takes knowledge, he can think ahead and not only have the vision but then things happen.

"I think we've proven that at Pinnacle. We started from nothing. Wade started his football career from nothing, too. He's always applied things in life for his success.

"He's the man for the job. He will be successful. They've got the right man for the job, my opinion."

Miller was interviewed and was one of the runners-up for the Bombers' position in 2010, the president-CEO post that eventually went to Garth Buchko.

Friday, when the team turned to him, Miller's plain-spoken, no-nonsense approach hadn't changed.

He had the unpleasant first task of dismissing GM Joe Mack and he put no sugar-coating on what's been happening with the team.

"A GM has a responsibility to win football games," Miller said. "Let's call a spade a spade, under Joe Mack the record speaks for itself.

"The standing pat is gone. It's time for action. And yes, I'm going to focus on football first, to bring back the history and winning attitude we used to have because that's what our fans not only expect but deserve."

Miller said directly he was "going to make things right on the field...." The 40-year-old, also the founder of Elite Sports Injury and Elite Performance and co-owner of two Booster Juice franchises in the city, was questioned about his qualifications for the new job.

"I have the football experience," Miller said. "I have the business experience. And I'm also going to bring the passion. That's all I need."

He was asked about his management style.

"Sure, it's about empowering, it's about serving and helping everybody that reports, about being a leader and setting the direction and vision and having a systematic approach to everything that we do," Miller replied. "I'm able to sit here today because I have amazing business partners and amazing staff and amazing organizations we've built together."

Miller was unequivocal in his belief he has the full authority, no "permissions" required, to make changes to the team as he sees fit.

"If I had any doubt in that, I wouldn't be sitting here today," he said. "It is 100 per cent without any question, I know it is that way."

While he'll be choosing the team's new GM, Miller said he'll first turn his attention to the football side with current assistant GM Kyle Walters and head coach Tim Burke, effectively endorsing Burke in his coaching role.

"I want to take a step back and sit down and review that," Miller said. "There are a lot of things that go into winning football games. You don't need to be the most talented team on the field. But we want to take a look at everything we're doing and see what we can do to be in the best situation to win this week.

"I'm going to work with Kyle and coach Burke and we're going to figure out what we need to do to start moving the yardsticks and start winning."

Miller insisted he's ready to do the "heavy lifting" that's required to fix the Bombers.

"In accepting the challenge in this leadership role, I look at the amazing new Investors Group Field knowing the finest facility in the country can't protect our fans from the disappointment of what is happening on the field," he said. "To our fans, I want you to know that I am committed to the heavy lifting required to put us on a new path and effect the kind of change that will lead us into a new direction. These aren't empty words.

"I'm not afraid to prove myself and let my results speak for myself."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 10, 2013 C3

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