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Left to right: Dr. Frank Dimant, Earl J. Barish, Robert Shindleman, Sandy Shindleman, and John McGoey

Annie Shindleman
photos by Gustavo Levy

photo by Gustavo Levy

photo by Gustavo Levy


By Rhonda Spivak, December 12, 2011

In accepting the B’nai Brith Award of Merit on Nov 21 at the Fairmont Hotel, Robert Shindleman rose to the podium and quipped, “I wasn’t sure we were going to win, so I didn’t prepare a speech.”
He then sat down as Sandy Shindleman, said “Thank you Robert”, turned and admonished the camera man “Don’t make me look fat.”
And so began Sandy Shindleman’s   wonderful acceptance speech which was hilarious, serious and heartwarming at the same time.
Shindleman said “If I’d known all these people would have come from so far, I would have bought a new suit.”
He then described a phone call he had with Earl Barish while at Sal’s eating “egg whites, dry toast, coffee…with splenda,” pausing in between words as the crowd burst out laughing. Barish, who is Chairman of the executive Board of B’nai Brith, sitting at the head table chuckled heartily.
The crowd’s laughter continued as Sandy announced that his seven year old daughter Annie, who spoke at the event, would be taking over at the helm of Shindico, “in 3-4 weeks.”
Sandy thanked “Robin Lee “from Pre-Con Builders, Chairman of the Tribute Committee for the event, “for shaking down all the trades like you usually do but this time giving away more than usual..[to B’nai Brith]” which also had the crowd in stitches [at the end of the event, this reporter noticed that the Pre-Con Construction table was the last to leave, as they continued to party polishing off the remains of their table’s wine allotment, before taxi rides home].
Shindleman , who is married to Diane Shindleman, also joked that his daughter Annie had emptied her piggy bank of “four dollars and nine cents” to give to him as a reward for exercising on the weekend.
On a more serious note, Sandy spoke about the good works of B’nai Brith Canada active in Canada since 1875 and in Manitoba since 1909, such as promoting human rights locally, nationally and around the world. B’nai Brith helps those who have not been treated with equality or fairness, and in fighting against anti-Semitism.
Prior to the event, Sandy told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that he remembers his father Eddie being involved in the B’nai Brith Lodge in Portage La Prairie, the Shindleman’s home town.
As was clear from the program and speeches made honouring the Shindleman’s, Sandy and Robert’s sense of community comes from their parents’ lessons of succeeding in business and life by helping others. They learned about helping others form their father Eddie, who often undertook the highest form of community service by helping others under circumstances where the beneficiaries did not know the identity of their benefactors. Their mother Claire campaigned tirelessly for better school education, cancer, and heart research and countless other worthy causes.
Eddie who grew up in Winnipeg was a cattle buyer, who moved to help his sister and brother-in-law in a grocery store business, Greenberg’s Groceteria in Portage La Prairie at the age of 14.
At the Award of Merit Gala, there was a large screen with photos of Sandy and Robert growing up, and photos of the Greenberg Groceteria. Outside the ballroom where the event was held at the Fairmont Hotel there was a display of various kind s of candy (the kind that would be sold at Greenberg’s) for guests to take in small paper bags. The centrepieces on the tables were made up of fresh vegetable produce in keeping with the Shindleman’s farming roots. The produce was donated by Peak of the Market and then donated to Winnipeg Harvest after the event.
In his remarks, Sandy spoke about how “Shindico used to have a two paragraph mission statement. I can’t remember who I copied it form,” which is now summarized by an operating mantra of, “Succeeding by Helping Others Succeed.”
As a grocer, and cattle buyer, and businessman Eddie stressed the importance of service to his customers. Both Robert and Sandy started out in the cattle and grocery business and branched out into commercial real estate and property management, brokerage and asset management to a wide range of local, national and international clients.
Sandy said that the best business education he got from his father about the importance of helping people was when he was 13 or 14 and was asked by his father to go out and buy the bull of a retired farmer.
Sandy had the crowd rolling in laughter when he described going out to this “80 acres of un-kept farm” to get the bull. “ I looked underneath it, and sure enough, it was a bull,” he said. In fact, “a lot of bull” he added.
Sandy then delivered another winning line by saying that that up until that time “I had been involved in bull-shipping but never in bull buying.”[Editor’s note: I think this line may have been my personal favourite of the evening].
On sizing up the bull, Sandy offered the farmer $420 and brought it back into town. His father had to ship the bull to the stockyard in Winnipeg and obtained $1,100 for the bull from Burns Meats, after expenses, approximately $1,000.
When his father asked Sandy what he thought of bull selling, Sandy recalled “I was thinking that I could quit school and make more than you do standing on your feet seven days a week in the store.”
But, his father then told Sandy to go back to the farmer and give him a cheque for another $500, since the farmer was a long-time customer and should be treated properly, getting “full marks” for his bull.
When Sandy gave the farmer the $500.00 cheque, the farmer endorsed it to go toward purchasing food from Greenberg’s Groceteria. When Sandy gave the check to his father Eddy, Eddy tore it up, with the point being that he would pay back the farmer and his family in groceries. Eddie was able to feed the farmer for months, teaching Sandy the importance of always treating the customer with gratitude and respect.
As Sandy said, he had learned from that that. “When we make sure our customers succeed, we succeed.”
Prior to Sandy’s speech, Stephen Rosenfield, who is related to the Shindleman’s through marriage, [“we claim him” as Sandy said] spoke about the Shindleman family and Greenberg’s Groceteria. He recalled that during his wedding “Eddie walked up while I was dancing giving me a wad of cash, saying ‘Don’t tell Claire, since she had already sent a gift from Birks.”
Ida Albo, the owner of the Fort Garry Hotel, was another Dinner Chair, who spoke about her common bond with Shindleman, as “I too grew up in a grocery store”, where you “learn how to read people”, and the you learn the importance of discretion.” When a customer would order “10,000 pounds of sugar” she suspected where that was going!
The event included traditional menorah candle lighting (lit by Marsha Cowan, Arnold and Myra Frieman, Reverends Rudy Fidel and John Howson, Dr. Catherine Chatterley and Belle Millo, Larry and Tova Vickar, Maxim Berent and Zach Raizman, Guezat Hagos and Louisa Raizman, and Jack Shindleman, assisted by his great niece Annie Shindleman), followed by brief remarks by Frank Dimant, CEO, B’nai Brith Canada, who commented on the local Jewish community’s warmth, creativity and B’nai Brith support.
Honorary Dinner Chairs were James W Burns and Sandy and Robert’s cousin, Bob Silver. Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith and Barish presented the Shindlemans with the Award of Merit.
On their way out guests filled their brown paper bags with candies, the kind that Robert and Sandy used to enjoy at the Greenberg Groceteria.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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