Inspiring Stories: John Wilson On The Importance Of Giving Back To Community

When John Wilson sold his paving and road-building business six years ago, the Fort McMurray community took note. In the weeks and months that followed, the former owner of Wilson Industries was honoured in countless ways — Keyano College presented him with its Board of Governance Award, the Vista Ridge All Seasons Park named its new quad chair after him and the Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame inducted him under the category of “builder”.

So why the huge send-off? Well, in John’s view, if you run a business in a community, you have an obligation to give back to that community. In line with this mentality, he spent a lot of his spare time contributing to various organizations over the years. For 12 of them, he was the public board member and, ultimately, the board chair of Keyano College. An avid skier, he was responsible for initiating the building a small ski hill in Fort McMurray in the 1990s — an endeavour that eventually became Vista Ridge All Seasons Park, of which he was board chair for 23 years. On top of that he was president of the local construction association, deeply involved in the United Way and the list goes on.

“Fort McMurray has been good to me, my business and my family. Back in the 1980s, I started a small paving company and the community was very supportive throughout my business career,” he says. “I think you really have to give back to the community that helped you get where you are.”

Today, John continues to support the Fort McMurray community — he’s chair of the land trust for Keyano College, helping the college uncover opportunities to develop its land so it can fund the expansion of its curriculum and infrastructure. He’s also very actively involved in CAREERS: The Next Generation, an organization that unites colleges and businesses in an effort to stream more young people into the trade sector. Plus he supports many organizations financially — most notably, the hospital foundation, Woods Buffalo foundation, the SPCA and the Food Bank.

“I got married in Fort McMurray. I raised four kids there. In that time, it grew from a town of 10,000 people to a city of 85,000 — and my business helped build a lot of the infrastructure,” he says. “Over the years I did a lot of work with the big oil and gas companies of the world and learned that they’re great corporate citizens. They give back generously to the community, because many of the high level executives share the same values I do — they realize you really have to give back to the communities where you work and where your employees work.”

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