FIVE legends of Manitoba commerce will be inducted into Junior Achievement Manitoba's Business Hall of Fame in May.
Jim Burns, former CEO of two financial services powerhouses, Power Financial Corp. and Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Co.; John Buhler, founder of farm-equipment manufacturer Buhler Industries; the late Robert Chipman, founder of Megill-Stephenson Company; Arthur Mauro, former president and CEO of Investors Group; and Lawrie Pollard, chairman emeritus of Pollard Banknote, will be feted at a gala dinner at the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre on May 22.
Greg Leipsic, president and CEO of Junior Achievement, said the quintet is a "terrific group" that represents a great cross-section of business leaders from Chipman, who built the Birchwood Automotive Group from the ground up and was a key member of the team that brought the NHL back to Winnipeg in 2011, to his good friend Pollard, who threw all of his printing-business eggs into the lottery-tickets basket and built an international powerhouse, to Buhler, who made his mark manufacturing farm equipment and has spent his retirement as a full-time philanthropist, to Burns and Mauro, who rose through the ranks to become giants in Canada's financial services sector.
Buhler said he was humbled by the honour, particularly when he saw the list of fellow inductees.
"It's kind of out of my league but I'll accept it graciously, which I'm not very good at," he said with a laugh.
Buhler and his wife, Bonnie, have thrown themselves into giving back to the community since the company was sold to a Russian group in 2007. He said giving money away is more difficult than making it.
"The demands on it are so high. Not a day goes by that we don't get petitioned for funding. We have to try and decide what's fair," he said.
Said Bonnie Buhler: "He loved making it and I love giving it away."
Burns, Buhler, Mauro and Pollard have confirmed their attendance at the dinner, which is expected to attract 450 of the province's business elite. The family of Chipman, who died last September, will also be there.
The focal point of the evening will be five-minute biographical tribute videos of each inductee and brief remarks from the four living honourees and a member of Chipman's family.
Steve Chipman, president of Birchwood, said his father would have been very flattered and humbled to be included with such a prestigious group.
"He was an entrepreneur. He wasn't a car guy in the sense of being a car nut. He just loved business, doing deals, watching the company grow and watching people succeed and develop," he said.
He said his dad was fiercely proud of being from Winnipeg and he was also very impressed with the new crop of business leaders coming up in the community.
Leipsic said perhaps the most lasting benefit of the evening will be the impression the inductees' stories will have on the dozens of Junior Achievement students in attendance.
"Our students will be able to watch the videos and hear how they built their businesses," he said.
This is the second class for the JAM Business Hall of Fame. Last year, Izzy Asper (Canwest Global Communications), James A. Richardson and Muriel Richardson (James Richardson & Sons, Limited), Samuel Bronfman (Seagram Co.), Albert Cohen (Gendis Inc.) and Sir Clifford Sifton (Manitoba Free Press), comprised the inaugural class.
Leipsic said there is no physical Hall of Fame yet but about a half-dozen downtown options are currently being explored.