Bold Types

The bidding begins (for a fifth-grader)

11-year-old Maxwell Surprenant is very much in demand these days.
Chris Morris for The Boston Globe
11-year-old Maxwell Surprenant is very much in demand these days.

A hiring bidding war broke out among a half-dozen of the Boston area’s top executives last week — but it will be about a decade before the job candidate they were all clamoring for is old enough to report to the office.

The object of their corporate desire was 11-year-old Maxwell Surprenant , a fifth-grader at St. Joseph Elementary School in Needham.

With his parents, Surprenant submitted the winning entry in this year’s Jimmy Fund Big Ideas Contest, which asks the public to make fund-raising suggestions for the Boston charity, which raises money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.


Surprenant’s idea — one of more than 200 entries from 19 states — is “Jimmy Fund Jokers: Laughter is the Best Medicine,” a social media campaign in which people would post Facebook videos of themselves telling jokes, pledge to donate, and tag their friends.

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Wearing a jacket and tie on his 4-foot-7-inch frame, Surprenant confidently and charismatically pitched his idea as an inexpensive fund-raiser with potential for global reach — the next Ice Bucket Challenge, he predicted.

He also touted its appeal to young people and the spirit of humor it brings to fighting cancer.

As soon as Surprenant finished, job offers (only half in jest) came pouring in from the six judges.

Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino offered him a front-office job. Kraft Group president Dan Kraft countered with a position with the New England Patriots. WCVB-TV general manager Bill Fine dangled an on-air gig. Pam Hamlin, global president of Arnold Worldwide, tried to sell Surprenant on the joys of advertising.


Arbella CEO John Donohue seemed resigned that a career in insurance would be a hard sell to a grade-schooler. Friendly’s CEO John Maguire took a different tack, using the allure of unlimited ice cream.

Asked later which offer had most appeal, Surprenant said: “That’s a tough pick, with the ice cream and the Patriots and the advertising, but I think my favorite would be the Red Sox.” Let the salary negotiations begin. — SACHA PFEIFFER

At the Pride parade, more corporate sponsors on board

Saturday’s Boston Pride parade had its biggest corporate showing ever, with 48 sponsors, among them EMC Corp., Liberty Mutual Insurance, Eastern Bank, and Biogen Inc.

Hopkinton-based EMC, in its third year as a sponsor, had 150 staff, friends, and family and a packed Boston Duck Tour boat.

Boston-based Liberty Mutual had a sea of 300 workers and friends who donned spongy crowns in rainbow colors for the 2½-hour route from Copley Square and through the South End to City Hall.


It’s a sign of the times in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is a decade old. Today’s Pride parade is more populated by politicians and church groups than drag queens. Think St. Patrick’s Day with a dash of Mardi Gras, drawing spectators of every stripe.

Retail giant Walmart came with a small group but also sponsored a Pride Pageant event. And there were newcomers, like grocer Stop & Shop and Santander.

Banks were a mainstay. Wells Fargo brought its horse-drawn stagecoach, despite a recent kerfuffle with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which closed its account at the San Francisco bank for running ads with gay couples.

TD Bank busted out of cubicle land with a float thumping with dance music and carrying 40 employees from around the region.

“You need to be your whole self at work, and you need to accept those different from you,’’ TD’s Allston branch manager, Mark Lussier said. Besides, “It’s fun to be in the parade.” — BETH HEALY

From Wonderland to Beacon Hill

Dick Dalton had left town for a three-year sojourn in Seattle. But he now has a prominent new role in Boston’s business community after being picked for an economic development job in Governor Charlie Baker’s administration.

You may remember Dalton. He ran Wonderland Greyhound Park as its president and was Wonderland owner Charlie Sarkis’s right-hand man at Back Bay Restaurant Group for years. But Wonderland closed down in 2010 after dog racing in the state became illegal — more than a year before the Legislature approved a casino bill that could have kept gambling alive at the property. Sarkis sold off the bulk of his restaurant business.

With the crumbling of the Sarkis empire, Dalton headed to Seattle in 2011 to help expand a sushi chain for restaurant operator Madison Holdings. Frank Feeney, a lawyer at DLA Piper who represented Sarkis’s businesses, connected Dalton with Madison.

The sushi didn’t catch on as quickly as Dalton wanted outside of Washington, and he ended up back in Boston last year.

When he saw that Jay Ash would be Baker’s economic affairs secretary, Dalton dropped Ash a congratulatory note.

That connection eventually led to a job offer for the position that Dalton started about a month ago: Boston regional director for the Massachusetts Office of Business Development.

Dalton’s job involves helping companies expand here and recruiting new ones into the fold. It also involves a few ribbon-cuttings, such as the opening of Rhonda Kallman’s Boston Harbor Distillery last week on the Dorchester waterfront.

“I’m a Boston boy,” Dalton said. “As much as we enjoyed Seattle, it’s just nice to be home.” — JON CHESTO

Waltham: an economic winner?

The city of Waltham has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state: 3.3 percent in April. So why is Tom Stanley trying to make economic development a key part of his campaign to unseat the incumbent mayor, Jeannette McCarthy, this fall?

Stanley, a Democratic state representative and a city councilor, argues that it simply takes too long for businesses to navigate the City Hall bureaucracy. He said Waltham’s success is due to the happy accident of its location near Boston and on Route 128, and not to the local government. He then rattled off several specific examples of frustration among those in the business community, like the time officials at the footwear giant Wolverine Worldwide complained to him that they couldn’t reach anyone at City Hall about a potential relocation. (Wolverine ended up deciding to move its offices from Lexington to Waltham, anyway.)

Most notably, Stanley is calling for the creation of a small-business advisory council and for a full-time economic development director, one who could field inquiries from businesses.

But on that latter point, McCarthy said she already has proposed doing something similar, by bestowing those powers on her planning director. The City Council, she said, rebuffed her request. Without the council granting that authority, she said, it’s hard for the planning department to act as a sounding board and a permit champion for businesses.

As far as Stanley’s assertion that Waltham’s economy is falling short, she points to all of the construction that’s under way, including projects within walking distance of City Hall. — JON CHESTO

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