Xam, Francis and Steve
Xam, Francis and Steve
Francis and Steve, diving in the Philippines
Francis and Steve, diving in the Philippines

Interview with Steve Wilson, Business Development Manager, Asia.

Posted on May 31, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Steve has looked after our Asian clients since he joined Bernhard in 2008.

Originally from Alberta, Canada, he grew up in the North West Territories for most of his childhood years where his parents ran a hotel in a small mining town.

Once the lead and zinc mines were shut down the town was more or less bulldozed, so the family, along with the other 2000 residents moved on. The Wilson family settled in Edmonton where his pioneering father bought some “swamp land” and set about building a golf course. Steve says, “People thought he was crazy given the condition of the land, but Dad is an old farmer at heart and he reckoned if the land had always been swamp there wouldn’t be so many big, healthy trees, so he ripped out a couple of beaver dams at the back of the property and that sorted the water. Within a year we began to lay out and build the golf course. We did most of the construction ourselves including trenching and installing irrigation pipes, floating and seeding the greens.

It was a great time in my life being able to operate large equipment at a young age and being included in the planning of a large scale development. That really got me started on golf. I did a Turf Management Programme at Fairview College, and then a Turf Equipment Technician Programme. I worked for my parents on the course in the summer, and stayed on at Fairview to teach for two winters.

That is when I first came across Bernhard. Stephen Bernhard loaned the college some machines and he came to give talks to the students.

Making a career as a Golf Course Superintendent was difficult at that time in Canada. I was considering going back to college at this time, to study Engineering, but I noticed a job opportunity that seemed too good to be true. ETS were looking for someone with Superintendent and Mechanic skills, I got the job and went to Japan – thinking perhaps this would be for 6-12 months. Two years later I joined PGM (Pacific Golf Management) as Fleet Manager and also spent a year or two as Senior Superintendent, and I was with them for 6 years.

It was an exciting time to be in Asia. PGM was growing at an astonishing rate – 10/20 new courses per month in the good times – all in Japan - buying non profitable businesses, turning them round and running them.

13 years later I am still in Asia and I love it. It took me a long time to adjust to the culture. It is very different throughout every country, but essentially it is very non-aggressive and very thorough. Doing business takes longer because it is all about steadily building relationships, and these are loyal and lasting friendships.

My job takes me all over Asia and Australia. I probably spend 50-70% of my time away from home – China, Korea, Japan, India, Australia, Malaysia, Philippines – but I love the challenge. I get a new culture every week and each country is very different – the language and food and way of doing business. “

Steve lives in Manila, is married to Xam and they have a 15 year old son, Francis.

When Steve is home he loves golf and diving. “I did a lot of technical diving, decompression and wreck diving when I was younger – all over Thailand, Egypt, Australia, and the Philippines. Now Xam and Francis are qualified so we all do less intense diving, mainly sticking to reefs within the Philippines. We have so many beautiful beaches a short distance from Manila to choose from and the reefs and fish life are gorgeous.”