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Canadian Business Icons

June 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Special Features, Success Story


Success MageeIt’s a tough world out there, but with instinct and passion, an idea can grow into a vast empire. Look to some Canadian titans of industry that had a dream and are now living it. Canadian Business Icons: Christine Magee, Harry Rosen, Gerry Schwartz, Michael Lee-Chin, and Michael Budman

Christine Magee

As someone who runs a business that tells people how important it is to get a good night’s rest, Christine Magee practises what she preaches. President, co-founder and well-recognized spokesperson of Sleep Country Canada, Magee is one of our nation’s leading businesswomen and mother of two. She worked at the National Bank of Canada, where she met her future business partners, Gordon Lownds and Stephen Gunn, before her entrepreneurial instinct to jump into mattress retail took over in 1994. Magee has turned Sleep Country into Canada’s No. 1 mattress retailer and has been counting sheep ever since. Besides its comfy Sealys and Sertas, Sleep Country Canada is best known for its catchy “Why buy a mattress anywhere else?” radio jingle.

Harry Rosen

Hats off to Harry Rosen! His tailoring acumen and penchant for the apparel industry has over the years led to him being recognized as the king of retail fashion. His shops across Canada are legendary, as is his philosophy of quality and class. Not one to turn his bespoke back to loyal and new customers, Rosen continues to service customers and walk the Harry Rosen sales floor. At 74, Rosen has been active in numerous philanthropic endeavours, which include but are not limited to the Canadian Paraplegic Association and Mount Sinai Friends for Life Campaign.

Gerry Schwartz

Investing in you is sound business advice from successful investor Gerry Schwartz. In 1983, he founded Onex, an investment firm whose billion-dollar portfolio includes Celestica, Spirit Aerosystems and Cineplex Entertainment. Before that, he launched CanWest Capital Corp. with media magnate Izzy Asper. A Scotiabank director since 1999, Schwartz first caught a glimpse of the world of business while working in his dad’s auto shop in Winnipeg. The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business Magazine pegs Schwartz’s net worth at $1.5 billion.

Michael Lee-Chin

Passionate about building a legacy, Michael Lee-Chin’s Portland Holdings Inc. has a mantra of doing well and doing good. Portland Holdings owns a diverse collection of companies in Canada and the Caribbean, one of which is the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica. Since Lee-Chin purchased the bank in 2002, it has grown to be the largest in the country with a formidable reputation of building a better Jamaica. The eldest of nine children, Lee-Chin was born a leader.

Michael Budman

Athletes, like the rest of the Canadian population, continue to outfit themselves in a defining Canuck culture brand. Inspired by childhood experiences at summer camp,  Michael Budman co-founded Roots in 1973. At the time, he and his partner, Don Green, knew very little of the corporate world. They just knew that they wanted to offer the public the Negative Heel Shoe, which became an instant hit among the masses. There are now 120 Roots locations across North America.


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