Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you John Forzani, exemplary athlete, sportsman and business leader, distinguished Canadian retailer and innovative philanthropist.
John Forzani, Founder and chairman of the Board of the Forzani Group Ltd., has shown intelligence, energy, drive and imagination in everything he has done. Always, he thinks ahead. Before joining the Calgary Stampeders for seven years as a professional football player- can we be surprised that he was an offensive guard?- Mr. Forzani obtained a business degree from Utah State University.
Perhaps this is what made him more alert to the opportunities available in the world of sports retailing. In 1974, he opened his first store with his brothers Joe and Tom, and a friend, Bas Bark in their hometown. From that single modest location, Forzani's Locker Room in southwest Calgary, has grown an empire: 10,000 employees, sales in excess of $1 billion, more than 450 corporate and franchise stores under several banners: Sports Experts, Intersport, Atmosphere, Econosports, Tech Shop and Nevada Bob's. In addition to his responsibilities with FOL, John Forzani also chairs IIIC International Corporation, an international buying group and franchisor of more than 4500 sports stores in 28 countries.
The road to building this empire has not always been easy, but every time there has been an obstacle, Mr. Forzani had met the formidable challenges head on. He has managed his enterprise through extremely rapid growth, stock market difficulties, competition and restructurings- and he has triumphed every time.
M. Forzani est aujourd'hui reconnu autant pour sa réussite dans les affaires que pour ses nombreuses contributions à la communauté. Il y a 27 ans, il fondait à Calgary « Marche et cours à la Fête des mères », une activité de financement qui attire à présent plus de 10 000 marcheurs enthousiastes dans cinq villes du pays et permet, bon an, mal an, de recueillir des sommes considérables destinées à promouvoir la santé, à procurer du matériel aux organismes qui en ont besoin et à soutenir des oeuvres de charités.
John Forzani a créé en l'an 2000 la Fondation Groupe Forzani qui fait la promotion de la forme physique, de la santé et du bien-être à travers le Canada et distribue chaque année des centaines de milliers de dollars à des causes éminemment valables comme le financement des hôpitaux, les jeux paralym piques et la lutte contre le cancer du sein.
John Forzani's personal commitment to the development of young people starts early-from on-site fitness and day care for FGL employees, to personal appearances and commitments to schools and universities. He sits on the Advisory Board for Ryerson's School of Retail program, where FOL has established two student scholarships, and he supports the Canadian Institute for Retail at the University of Alberta.
One of the world's greatest athletes, Muhammed Ah, once said: "Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them - a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, be a little faster, have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
John Forzani has amply demonstrated both the will and the skill to be a champion, by any measure.
Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of the Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and an honour to present to you John Forzani, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.