Foord Family

Family Legacy Series 2009

Celebrating The Foord Family

The 7th annual Family Legacy Series Dinner was hosted by the Business Families Centre from the Sauder School of Business, together with the Vancouver Chapter of CAFE, the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise. A must-attend Vancouver business dinner, this annual event is also a truly extraordinary opportunity to gain candid insight into the inner workings of some of Canada’s most successful businesses - and the families who own them. With a compelling presentation from three generations of the Foord family of Kal Tire, this years event did not disappoint the almost 500 guests.

From Tom Foord’s humble beginnings in Vernon, BC in 1953 (with first year net profits of a startling $25.08), Kal Tire has grown into one of North America’s largest retail and commercial tire chains, with over 220 outlets across Canada, and operations in Chile and South America. But the interesting thing revealed about this family-owned business to the fortunate guests of the FLS Dinner, is that Kal Tire counts its success, not in tires, but in people. Kal Tire was founded on Tom Foord’s vision of a company that provides an unmatched level of service; a simple recipe but difficult to achieve, and even tougher to maintain over 50 years and three generations. But it has been the family focus on fundamental values, and its support of its people, both within the business and the family, that have kept things rolling.

Over the course of the dinner discussion led by panel moderators Judi Cunningham (Executive Director of the Business Families Centre and CAFE Vancouver), and James Tansey, (Associate Professor at the Sauder School of Business), members of the Foord Family in turn revealed a business – and a family - notable for it’s dynamic leadership, deep support for it’s people, and unwavering commitment to it’s values. Ken Finch (President and son-in-law of founder Tom Foord) and Robert Foord (Vice-President and son of Tom Foord) described the novel governance and profit sharing structures the company has adopted to attract and retain staff, while Andrew Kurbis (grandson of Tom Foord) and Mary Olstad, (grand daugther of Tom Foord) gave insights into Family Councils and the Philanthropy efforts that have kept this family focused. In a question and answer period over dessert, the family’s responses to questions from the audience left no doubt about this family’s vision and willingness to tackle the toughest business and family issues as the source of their success.

Since it’s inception in 2001, the Family Legacy Dinner has become an important feature of the Vancouver social and business calendar. The notable SC Johnson, Shaw, Rogers and Molson families have all graced the FLS stage, sharing a wealth of knowledge and experience with Vancouver’s family business community.


The Globe and Mail