November 29, 2022 Message to the Membership

Posted on November 29, 2022 in

November 29, 2022 Message to the Membership

I had the pleasure of attending Cosmopolitan Industries’ Spirit of Cosmo Breakfast last week. If you don’t know what Cosmopolitan Industries is – and if you live in or near Saskatoon – well, you should. Cosmopolitan Industries is a non-profit organization in Saskatoon that delivers a multitude of programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities. 

If you don’t know what the Spirit of Cosmo Breakfast is… well, you should. The Spirit of Cosmo Breakfast is a recently created annual fundraising breakfast that raises tens of thousands of dollars for Cosmopolitan Industries, to continue to deliver the world-class programming for their participants. It’s a major event that, in addition to raising funds for the organization, raises awareness and also takes the time to honour a deserving recipient with the Howard Stensrud Spirit of Cosmo Award.  

This year’s recipient was none other than Al Anderson. If you don’t know who Al Anderson is… well, you should. Al Anderson is a titan in the Saskatoon business community. A Leader among leaders, a King among men. He is the real deal. 

For the longest time, his name adorned the sign outside his sporting goods business as Al Anderson’s Sports. Then somewhere along the way, they joined the syndicate Source for Sports. But because Al Anderson was such a recognized name in the market, rather than simply adopt the corporate name, they instead morphed the two and it’s now called Al Anderson’s Source for Sports. I don’t know if the following is true, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to hear that Source for Sports made an exception to the rule for Al, because he’s that ground-breaking. 

I first met Al Anderson in my 20’s, when I was working as a retail clerk at a sporting goods store while going to university. Although I worked at a competitor’s, Al and his staff were very helpful and congenial to us. If we needed a certain sized skate that we were out of stock, for instance, we could go across the back alley (yes, we were literally across the alley from one another) and swap a box of skates for the right size. 

It was clear from those days that Al was a person who subscribed to the theory that a rising tide lifts all boats. He was not the least bit concerned about this competitor that has popped up across the way. He was already so established as a sporting goods retailer that not much could chip into his dominating market presence. 

I got to know Al quite a bit better as a budding reporter following university. I did a profile on him for the community newspaper that I worked for. Although I was there to learn about him, Al was just as interested in learning about me.  

“Moen…” he said wistfully. “That name rings a bell.” I was almost certain that he’d name one of the other Moen tribes that I wasn’t related to, as was the usual circumstance. 

“Was I related to the Moen that played organ in that small country church near Viscount?” I just about split my pants.  

“Uhm yes, that’s my Dad. How would you know that?”  

Well, it turns out that Al, in addition to being an icon in the sporting goods arena, was a wonderful orator, storyteller, benefactor, public speaker, and… gospel singer. I don’t actually recall if he sang at our little country church or if he was an attendee at one time, but somehow he knew my Dad, which blew my mind that a) he would know (of) him and b) that he remembered him. 

Anyway, my interview with Al went very well, went very long, and a lifelong mutual admiration grew from this. I would also, later on, write other stories for other publications about him, but the context of each story was the same: Al Anderson was a King among men. All you had to do was ask, and there would be plenty of sources to corroborate. 

When I first got this job at the NSBA 13 years ago many, many congratulatory messages came flooding in. The one that meant the most to me was the one I kept in my desk for several years. It was a handwritten, mailed little card that simply said, “Congratulations Keith, the NSBA got it right!” Talk about a boost in confidence. 

Among the biggest Al Anderson influences I witnessed, however, came when our son, who was as shy, introverted and quirky as an 11-year-old can be, entered into a public speaking contest through the school division. My wife and I were both shocked and worried that this would be a disaster. 

Instead, our son flourished in the competition, and none other than Al Anderson was one of the judges. Al actually personally awarded the winning trophy to our son, Connor. Al’s words of encouragement and recognition of Connor’s accomplishment helped to transform our son from the shy, geeky kid to a confident, knowledgeable tween (and even borderline cocky in certain circumstances, but I digress). 

But the biggest accomplishment of Al’s, however, was in conjunction with his good friend Howard Stensrud, when they created Cosmopolitan Industries. They recognized that adults with intellectual disabilities were being overlooked by the system. So they created their own system.  

Indeed, they were the driving forces and Cosmo would not be the institution it is today without them. Along the way, Al was the creator Cosmo Golf, a golf club manufacturing facility in Cosmo Industries, which at one time was the second-largest golf club manufacturer in North America. Imagine that… The second largest! Cleveland Golf, Bridgestone or PXG could only be so lucky. 

The programming that Cosmo delivered, which Al and Howie (Mr. Stensrud went by Howie) were so integral in ensuring, was and is world-class. People from all over the world would travel to Saskatoon to see what Cosmo was doing so they could emulate it in their jurisdiction. 

As you can tell by this unusually longer version of my weekly message, Al Anderson’s legacy is profound. Our city is so blessed and fortunate to have a leader such as Al in our presence these past 90 years. He’s made our part of the world a better place to be. 

Until next time, be safe, be smart, be considerate, be well, but most of all, be kind.  

Keith Moen 

Executive Director 

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