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June 09, 2023


Investment information for the new generation

Fair Jordan: How Skyharbour Resources (SYH.V) made Jordan Trimble, and vice versa

He’d never say so, but I know the part of every article about Jordan Trimble that makes him wince is the inevitable part that mentions his dad as a legend in the Canadian markets deal scene. Not that he’d begrudge his father the due applause that his long and storied career warrants, but every kid of a legend winces when they’re compared to the parent who preceded them, because the drive to build your own reputation and stand outside of that shadow is near constant.

Hell, my grandfather was a self-made multi-millionaire, war hero, entrepreneur and diplomat, and my desire to show him I could match him stride for stride began at 16 and never really ended, even after he did.

Among the weak, the comparison to those who excelled before you is an anxiety that underlies everything.

In the strong, it’s a driver to be better, and better, and better still.

The latter version is the rarity, because the financial markets can be complex enough without family complications adding to the mix. Suggestions of conflict, nepotism, spite, and Succession-like inter-generational intrigue run rampant when money and family is involved, with the old story going that it takes three generations to make a fortune and one to ruin one.

So, as a journalist, when you ask people who know Jordan Trimble to describe him – anonymously – you half expect there’s going to be some of that competitive nature emerging, maybe some low level rumblings of conflict, or the occasional public misstep. Maybe a drunken scene at the Pac Rim, or a family squabble at Hollyburn.

As a journalist, you kind of want that to be the case because it makes for an interesting read.

But here’s the thing: I’ve not found anyone who doesn’t think of Jordan Trimble as that most boring of things; an A1 dude. And I tried, for the last few months, every time I spoke to someone who might know him, to find a twist in that tale.

“No, he’s legit,” said one long time dealmaker to me last week. “Like, you’d forgive him if he’d grown up in the markets and ended up sounding like every other shit with a wealthy dad, but he’s done the work and earned every step. Skyharbour Resources (SYH.V) [the uranium exploration company that Trimble runs] is chocked full of good deals, JVs, big partners, good projects. On a long enough timeline, that company will be a mid-major, there’s no question in my mind. He runs it right, he doesn’t fuck anybody over, he’s got a level head, he’s curious, and he’s earned the respect of every boardroom he sits in.”

You might ask why I don’t name the person who told me that, and it’d be a valid question.

The answer is, everyone is nice when they’re on the record. When they know they can speak freely, and won’t earn any credit for saying nice things, that’s when you start to get the ‘real truth’. But with Trimble, the ‘real truth’ is there should be more like him. And that’s a rarity in the C-suite in Canadian smallcap mining companies.

“He’s a great kid,” says a long time mutual friend who has known Trimble since he started out and calls everyone who still has their hairline ‘kid.’ “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but he’s defined himself as ‘Jordan’ rather than ‘son-of Bill’, through doing good deals, making his own way, and frankly surprising a lot of old timers who look at what he does with begrudging respect.”

That respect from the old-timers includes Trimble’s dad. I spoke briefly to Bill at the Vancouver Resource Investor Conference earlier this year, when he came in off the ski slopes to catch up with old friends. I asked him about ‘the kid’ and he positively – and quietly – beamed.

“I’ll be honest,” he whispered so he wouldn’t be overheard, “I don’t really know a lot about what he’s going on with Skyharbour anymore because I’m having too much fun on skis, and, really, he’s got it completely under control. I’m here if he ever needs me, but he doesn’t need me anymore than you do, and as a dad that’s all you can ever hope for, that your kid goes into the world and shows everyone who he is as a man.”

He continued, “Skyharbour is a great company because he made it that. He gets up every day and puts his whole soul into it, and he’s done things with it that made me step back and say, okay, wow, you’ve absolutely got this. He’s taken it to the next level.”

I talked recently to a CEO of a company that has done business with Skyharbour, to ask how being on the pointy end of a Trimble deal feels, and the props party continued.

“Not blowing any smoke up your ass – he gets what it is to be a partner,” said the exec. “You can make a lot of money screwing people over and people will remember it, so they can one day screw you back [..] Trimble understands reputation goes both ways, so when you deal with him, he shoots straight and he expects the same of you, and everyone benefits. You might not get the deal you want – he’s a scrapper when he needs to be – but that’s business, not personal. On the personal side, I don’t think he’s got an enemy, and you almost collect those in this business, just by accident.”

There are others I’ve talked to – former employees, JVs, folks who’ve sold him a property or tried to swing a deal and failed.. but they all say the same thing and, frankly, that doesn’t make for interesting reading, so I’ll make up a few negative opinions just to balance the story out.

“His shirt is always well-pressed, and I find that suspicious” said the guy at the Tim Hortons downstairs from his office.

“I’ve never seen him shit-faced at the Banter Room, and if you can’t make poor life choices like the rest of us, who are you even?” said a dude currently serving a three year ban.

“Never seen him, which just shows he has no interest putting young women through law school” says Persephone, the Thursday night headliner at Brandys.

Why does any of this matter?

Because it fuckin’ does, man. Look, anyone can come out with a piece of land and milk a few drill holes and a six-figure salary every year until their reputation is shot and the money dries up, and the spin-outs slow down. The guys who will be around 40 years are the ones who can point to their track record – the jockeys of good horses, as it were – and say, even if things didn’t pan out, “We gave it everything,” and there just aren’t that many of them because the good ones retire early as wealthy people and the shitty ones go sell real estate.

When you look at a dozen management bios a day, like I do, you see a lot of similarities.

“Was part of the group that later became…”
“Has helped dozens of companies go public..”
“Has raised tens of millions for a variety of public companies..”

You see guys that jump sectors whenever something gets hot, and others that are on 42 different boards of companies with market caps under $2 million, and others that share an address with 14 companies that each pool $300 every month for a receptionist.

What you don’t see often are guys who zero in on one company and one sector and work it hard with strident self-belief, every day, with deals and more deals, while showing up and speaking at every event, know everyone, and have the shared respect of even those they compete against.

I’ll be honest with you – I own some Skyharbour stock, but if you asked me to describe each of their properties I’d need to go do a bit of research first because 1: There’s a lot of them and 2: Like Bill, I trust Jordan Trimble enough to just let him do his thing without looking too hard over his shoulder.

Or, to quote another uranium company CEO with a market cap one digit higher than Skyharbour and who would absolutely kill me if I named him, “I want to be Jordan Trimble.. all I’d need to make it happen is to shave 20 years off my age, get 80% more attractive, pick up two more projects, and be forgiven for the first ten years of my career.”

Jockey > horse

Skyharbour Resources (SYH.V) to power the electrification of everything

— Chris Parry

FULL DISCLOSURE: Skyharbour Resources is an Equity.Guru marketing client but has not pre-approved this article because, let’s face it, there’s no way he would.

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