A NORMALLY hard-nosed Backchat had to reach for his handkerchief when Minneapolis-based Carlson Companies chairman and chief executive Marilyn Carlson Nelson addressed a packed press conference in London.
Marilyn had brought together the presidents of all Carlson's brands in London for the first time.
However, rather than imparting any great news stories about an impressive company which boasts a yearly turnover of $22bn, she chose to eulogise at length about her colleagues and the theme of integrity in a way that only one of our cousins from across the pond can.
With the audience suitably softened up, Marilyn went on to talk about the importance of the family, pointing out that several senior members of the company are also from her very own household.
Marilyn herself, of course, is the daughter of the late Curt Carlson, who founded the company in 1938.
"It's very special when you have a family business," she gushed.
"At work, my father would sit on one table, I'd sit on another and my son would sit on another. It was sometimes difficult to know where the family ended and the corporation began."
It took the onslaught of questions from the floor to stop Backchat bursting into tears.
Marilyn then revealed the company was keen to expand into Europe, but was not prepared to reveal the cost of Carlson's plan to increase its stake in Thomas Cook Holdings to 49%.
However, she did assure us that it was "very important news" for Carlson.
Backchat was by now wondering how he was going to get a concrete news story from the press conference. Then suddenly a freelance journalist came up trumps. "What about facilities for dogs in the company's hotels following the change in quarantine rules?" he enquired.
Marilyn was momentarily lost for words but luckily Radisson Edwardian Hotels managing director David Batts saved the day. "Woof, woof" he barked, jumping to his feet. It was that kind of conference.
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