Tell us a bit about yourself!
I was born and have lived my entire life in Edmonton. We had a family business on the Southside (99 St. and 82 Avenue) where I worked for several years until we moved our business downtown in 1980 to 112 St. and Jasper Avenue. My whole career has been focused on the travel industry so I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to see much of the world. Traveling is a great educator and certainly puts into perspective just how lucky we are in Canada in comparison to many other countries. Yes, our weather could be better but aside from that I’ve always found Edmonton to be a great place to raise a family (I’m married and have one son who is a teacher, and we have two granddaughters). My wife and I sold our company (Globetrotter Travel Ltd.) back in 2014 but remain very active in the travel industry as IC’s (independent contractors) for the firm that purchased us – Vision Travel. Vision is a privately held agency with some 50 offices across Canada with annual sales approaching $1 billion. It’s one of Canada’s largest agencies and their buying power has given us terrific opportunities to provide many extra amenities to our clients which in turn has allowed us to grow our business to the point that my wife Sue is amongst the top producers for the company in Canada.
What inspired you to support youth in our community?
My father Carlos (since deceased) was a Member of the Rotary Club of Edmonton South for many years. The Club used to meet first at the Park Hotel on Calgary Trail and 80th Avenue (now I’m dating myself!) and after the hotel burned down we moved for many years to the Renford Inn, which is now the Varscona Hotel. That is where I eventually joined Rotary back in 1978 at the age of 20. For over 11 years I was the youngest member of the Club. I had a great opportunity to meet many of the movers and shakers of business who had major companies on the South Side and I received a lot of guidance and inspiration from these individuals. I got to see that while they were very successful, they also knew that giving back to the community was important and that was a valuable lesson for me as a young man starting out in business myself. It inspired me to join the Board of the Club and I was given the portfolio of Community Service. It was at that time that our Club received a letter requesting funding from a brand new organization call YESS (Youth Emergency Shelter Society back then) and I was really taken with the concept that they were looking to implement. Being from a loving and stable background, I couldn’t directly relate to what many young people were going through but knew that it was important to fill the gap that existed for young people in need. YESS required a commercial dishwasher in order to get their occupancy license (a $3,500.00 request, so quite a bit of money at that time). I pushed hard for the request to be fulfilled and thankfully I had the support of my fellow board members and that gave YESS the final item they needed in order to open their doors and they still serve the community from that very same location all these years later. I myself have been a Member of Edmonton South for 45 years.
What is one thing you wish the community knew about YESS?
Your [recent] presentation [to the Rotary Club] reminded me of all the extra work that YESS now does for youth in the community and I truly believe that most Edmontonians don’t fully realize the scope of what great work you really do for youth in our community.