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Honorary degree citation - Aaron Fish*

By: Chris Trueman, June 2016

Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you Mr. Aaron Fish, innovator, friend to Concordia and a global authority in the field of lock design.

Aaron Fish is a long-time supporter of Concordia and this university’s future generations of engineers.

In 1999, Mr. Fish donated funds to Concordia to create the Aaron M. Fish Scholarship of Excellence in Mechanical Engineering.

In addition to taking a keen interest in meeting with the recipients of his scholarship, Mr. Fish has actively sought out Concordia engineering students when looking to hire new talent.

Mr. Fish became very involved with the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, which is housed at Concordia.

His daughter, Ariela, worked for the Institute for a summer and Mr. Fish himself hosted an event with Senator Romeo Dallaire to talk about the work of the Institute and to raise funds.

A Montreal native, Mr. Fish began his successful business career at the age of nine, working at his father’s locksmith shop. He spent his summers travelling with his uncle as he sold locksmith supplies in Ontario and Quebec.

Putting those skills to good use, Aaron Fish soon became known as an expert in lock design, working with law enforcement agencies throughout North America.

In 1964, he engineered and developed the very first push button lock for Bell Canada, accomplishing what engineering lock experts in New York and Boston had then deemed impossible.

Mr. Fish’s electronic locks were used in the Pentagon, the UN building in New York and the Industrial Bank of China.

In 1965, he started his own business, Unican Security Systems Limited, where he served as Chairman and CEO for several decades.

Under Mr. Fish’s wing, Unican swiftly grew into the largest maker of key blanks and duplicating machines in the world, responsible for a major change in the key making and lock industries in North America, Europe, South America and Asia.

With factories around the world and thousands of employees, by 2001 the company was selling 4.5 million keys per day.

After selling Unican to Swiss conglomerate Kaba Group, Mr. Fish bought back the company – now called Capital Industries Ltd. – in 2007 and restored it to profitability.

Mr. Fish exemplifies the spirit of giving back to the community.

As founder of the Wally and Aaron Fish Family Foundation, Mr. Fish has been a generous supporter of numerous other causes and charities, including the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal and the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

In addition to being a member of Concordia’s Annual President’s Circle from 2001-2006, in 2010 the Concordia University Alumni Association granted him an Honorary Life Membership Award.

He also helped establish the Aaron Fish Chair in Mechanical Engineering – Fracture Mechanics, at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and honour to present to you Mr. Aaron Fish, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.


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