Friday, July 8, 2016

The passing of a giant Canadian

Mr Leonard Lee, founder of Lee Valley and Veritas, passed away. Thursday morning.

I would forever remembered him as a caring and genuine individual.
I had the pleasure of meeting him a few times, both from my days at the Annapolis Valley Woodcarver club and Ottawa Woodworking Association (OWA) and in the military.

here at 14th Wing Greenwood for a period of time. 

I have been a long time customer of his company, now run by his son Rob, since discovering their catalog during one of my travels in the early 90s. Lee Valley and Veritas have both grown a lot since, and there is now a store here in Halifax, which I have been known to visit occasionally :-)

First in line awaiting store opening, one early morning :-)

The one thing that has not changed since the early days, or under his son Rob's tenure is the most amazing personalized customer service.

During my career I had to go to Winnipeg often, where the Airforce HQ is located and there is a Lee Valley store close by. Every time I went, I mostly stayed at the same hotel and jokingly asked for a room with a view to Lee Valley.
The staff thought that was quite humourous and always delivered, I could see the store from my room :-)

Likewise, whenever we had to organized a meet, if they asked me for a location, I simply open my LV catalog to the store locations page and slide it down the table toward the boss. Pick any location near one of these was my reply :-)
YES, I have visited most LV store locations, except that lately they opened a few more, I am getting due for a road trip I guess...

What has always set his business ventures apart, has to be the level of service and commitments to both his products and the customers alike.  I have never been disappointed with anything I ever bought from him and even received free replacements and an apology for a possible small defect in his first flush cutting saw. The included note even explained how to correct the slight set on one side so it would not scratch. There was no issue with mine, but got the replacement anyway. Talk about service!  There are no doubts many such stories from customers around the world. And as long as the business remains family owned versus becoming a public offering on the stock market, I am confident that the core values of the company would not change and will continue to set the bar high for customer service. That is his legacy.

To the Lee's family and friends and all the employees of his great companies, who I know are mourning as well the passing of "Mister" Lee, I offer my most sincere and heartfelt condolences.

HCol Leonard Lee, Queen Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals and Member of the Order of Canada. 1938-2016

Rest In Peace Sir, we shall remember you

Bob, saddened by the loss, but comforted to have knew both Leonard and his son Rob

1 comment:

  1. I concur.. Leonard Lee created a legacy in Lee Valley whichmany woodworkers have benefitted from, myself included. Can't say enough great things about the business but if it were not for Leonard Lee and his vision of bringing quality tools and facilitating their purchase to the woodworking community, I am sure woodworking would not be the same for many woodworkers over the past decades. BTW, I first entered a LV store here in Ottawa in 1983 (33 yrs. ago) and made my 1st purchase (a chisel). Still have it :)