At age 98, Pat Hyndman has a perspective on business that few people can match.
He takes the long view, one that goes back before the crash of 1929.
Hyndman is a group chair for Vistage, a for-profit organization that offers mentorship to executives. While working for Vistage — then known as TEC — full-time in the 1970s and 1980s, Hyndman helped sell and direct the young organization, ensuring its survival. He was president for five years.
Vistage’s core work is done in small groups, and these days Hyndman still counsels a San Diego-based group.
“When you’re an entrepreneur building up a business, you’ve got nobody to talk to,” Hyndman said recently at his home in Pacific Beach. Leaders can’t confide in their employees, or their spouses. It’s best to talk to people who face the same issues they do. That is the service Vistage provides.
Vistage offers “a safe place where people can talk about their business and personal issues,” said Rafael Pastor, the organization’s current CEO. “Whatever is said in a room stays in a room.”
The program also offers monthly one-on-one sessions with a mentor.
Working His Way Up
Hyndman is old enough to recall the economic prosperity of the 1920s. His family’s fortunes declined, however, and he had to take a job as a child. Work was available because the 1920s were still in full flower. For his first job, the future executive coach delivered groceries.
He was ahead of his time. Soon the rest of the country felt the Great Depression, and a lot more people needed jobs. Hyndman was an old hand at looking for work. He was good at it.
Pat Hyndman eventually made his way from Pittsburgh to California, going to Pasadena Junior College and then University of California, Berkeley. He said he is grateful that the people of California offered him an education. Military service followed; while he was in the U.S. Army, Hyndman worked as a field engineer with Sperry, a manufacturer of anti-aircraft equipment.
Sixty years ago he founded San Diego-based PHd Corp., which leased trucks, cars and other equipment. He served as CEO until the business was sold to Leaseway Transportation Co. in 1978.
Hyndman also helped found Grossmont Bank and served on its board; the institution later became part of California Bank & Trust, a subsidiary of Zions Bancorporation.
Hyndman also has a long perspective on city, state and national politics. He was one of the people who worked to expand the University of California’s presence from oceanographic station to full-blown San Diego campus. Among other things, he helped secure land for that expansion.
He observed that every great undertaking, whether it is a cathedral or a hospital, starts out with “moles digging in the dirt.”
Another foray into local government was his membership in the city water reclamation commission. He’s been pondering how San Diego could best dispose of its sewage since the bad old days when the city dumped its effluent into San Diego Bay. (By the way, don’t use the phrase “toilet to tap” in front of Hyndman. In his view, those three words have undone a lot of the good work the water reclamation effort has done.)
He served as a member of the La Mesa-Spring Valley and San Diego County school boards, has interacted with national and international leaders, and has collected a variety of awards and recognitions.
His work on civic boards, such as that of the YMCA of San Diego County, continues.
In recent years, Hyndman has offered his perspective to other executives under the umbrella of Vistage, which until recently was known as The Executive Committee or TEC.
He does it through the small group.
Jamie Ogle is a third-generation CEO of family business Lloyd Pest Control. He’s been a member of Hyndman’s group for 12 years. Ogle took over his father’s spot in the group.
Becoming a Better Person
Hyndman “helped me grow up,” Ogle said. “He helped me become a better leader, he helped me become a better businessman. He helped me become a better person.”
Hyndman is a good sounding board, Ogle said. “He asks tough questions. He tells you when he thinks you’re full of it.”
Ogle said in the time he’s led his company, Lloyd Pest Control has grown from 200 to 260 employees. It has retained most executive staff and it has made technological improvements such as migrating from branch office phones to a call center.
There are 700 group chairmen and chairwomen in Vistage, said Pastor. Hyndman stands out “in that he is exceptionally gifted, passionate, and really personifies our core values: trust, caring, challenge and growth,” the CEO said.
Hyndman lives with his wife Bonnie at Wesley Palms. His neighbors are all retired. “The guys around here say, ‘Why don’t you hang it up?’” Hyndman said. He responds that the work gives him pleasure, and he is grateful to have the opportunity.
And it keeps the effects of aging at bay.
“Nobody grows old,” Hyndman said. “They become old when they stop giving. By learning and serving, you never get what you call ‘old.’ ”