Chancellor's Community Recognition Award
Spring 2010 Convocation
Bob Saunders was born in Duncan in 1935, the fourth of five children. Through the depression years, he worked at his father's automotive business and there learned the importance of treating customers fairly and honestly. In 1956, Mr. Saunders married Norma and together they raised five children in the old farm house they still call home. The family grew all their own vegetables there and raised chickens, cows and pigs.
When his children were young, Bob Saunders worked as a pipefitter and welder on ships and at mills. This work kept him away from home so he decided to go back to the car business to be closer to family and community. Mr. Saunders worked first in sales, frequently earning top honours. Then, he opened his own used car lot on the Old Island Highway in Colwood not far from the dealership he now owns - Saunders Subaru - which he founded in 1978.
At a very young age, Bob Saunders realized the importance of giving back to the community and today he proudly supports arts and theatre programs as well as Chamber of Commerce activities and local youth sports at recreational and elite levels. He partners with the local school district to offer scholarships and work experience opportunities for high school students, some of whom continue to work at his business after earning their trade qualifications. Mr. Saunders also supports numerous charitable organizations including local food banks, the Salvation Army, Victoria Hospice, CNIB, Cops for Cancer, and the Victoria Firefighters Burn Unit. His enthusiasm and interest in the community has been passed on not only to his children who give back and take on active roles within their own communities but also to his 11 grandchildren who are all keenly involved in sports and hobbies.
Bob Saunders believes strongly in taking personal responsibility for the environment. He regularly participates in Earth Day activities, for example, by heading out onto the local streets and picking up trash, encouraging staff to join him. He also keeps current on all aspects of recycling within his business.
Mr. Saunders has been the recipient of numerous awards recognizing his significant contributions to his community. These include a Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Confederation and, more locally, a Citizen of the Year award from the West Shore Chamber of Commerce, a Capital Families Association Community Support Recognition award, a C-FAX 1070 Citation Rose award, a CNIB Volunteer Recognition award and a number of Salvation Army Appreciation awards. Mr. Saunders has also received accolades for his dealership. His service department regularly earns Subaru's Platinum level in customer care and he has himself received numerous customer satisfaction, sales, service and parts awards.
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, Board of Governors and distinguished guests. I am honoured and humbled to be here today to receive the Chancellor’s Community Recognition Award for 2010.
I look at my community as an extension of my family, which has always been my greatest asset. I have been successful in business because of my family and their dedication to our common goal. My wife Norma, daughters Edie and Ruth and my youngest son David are all important and integral parts in the daily operation of our car dealership in Colwood. My oldest daughter Helen is a High school principal in Fort St. John and my oldest son Stephen is a businessman and wildlife guide in Prince George. Together, Norma and I, our five children and their husbands and wives have formed a family business, an investment group and a non-profit foundation to benefit youth and sports in greater Victoria.
I have never forgotten where I started, the humble beginnings, the long hours, uncertainty, the ups and downs of business. I have also never forgotten those who helped me and my family along the way. I believe in giving back to the community that supports me and my family. I look for ways to get things done, and not to dwell on reasons why something can’t be done. I have implemented a business plan based on financial success, while giving back to the community or like my son David has introduced in his role as the Mayor of Colwood, “paying it forward.” I invite all of you here today to become involved in your community, not to watch from the sidelines, but to jump in with both feet and become truly involved. I have an idea and vision of what I want my community to look like as I’m sure all of you do. I challenge you to make your vision a reality. If you want to facilitate change in your community, spearhead that change. Be a moving, contributing force in your community, I guarantee that the reward you will receive when you “pay it forward” will exceed your expectations.
Last year, my family and friends helped me launch the Saunders Family Foundation. This is a non-profit foundation that was set up to help local youth through sports. I believe that sports has a positive and lasting effect on our young people. It introduces social values, teamwork, sportsmanship and physical fitness. Our goal is to help young people get registered and outfitted for their sport of choice, by offering a hand to those that need financial help. This is rewarding work. I am proud to say we have already been able to help with local hockey and lacrosse registration as well as purchasing a bicycle for Para-Olympian Stephanie Dixon.
Royal Roads University is passionate about taking a leading role in the community. If you look at the University website, the mission statement is about practicing stewardship and being aligned for sustainable success. I believe these values are also important for the citizens and businesses in this community. The success of Royal Roads will show up in individual academic success and longterm community success as well. I want sustainable success, for my business and my community. I want my grandchildren to be part of that sustainable community success.
I believe happy people spread happiness, energetic people create energy and civic minded people that lead by example inspire future community leaders. Get involved, lead by example, “pay it forward.” I am honoured to be selected to receive this award. I am part of a team that is equally deserving of this award and the community recognition, the Saunders family team. I am Bob Saunders and
I am proud to say I am from Victoria, the best place on earth. It is also home to Saunders Subaru and the best all-wheel drive vehicle on earth. Hey, I’m a businessman, what can I say! Please stop in and see us on the Old Island Highway, coffee is always on.