For Garry Skidmore (‘94), there wasn’t much question about where he’d work after he graduated. He was born a Skidmore. As such, he wanted to be a part of the business his grandfather co-founded.
“I knew what I wanted to do,” says Garry. “School was just a requirement—a hurdle I had to get over to get into the head office of the business.”
His grandfather, Art Skidmore, started the company in 1946 with his brother Herb. Back then it was just a small automotive glass shop in New Westminster, BC. Overtime, that small business grew to become a thriving glass shop, with locations across Western Canada. In 1967, Art’s son Allan joined the company, and became an integral part in its expansion and development as it became Trans Canada Glass Ltd and later TCGI when it went into the USA.
The company grew an international presence, and by 1994 they employed thousands of people through brands such as Apple Auto Glass, Speedy Glass, Novus Glass, Eurostock, and Autostock. 1994 was also the year that Garry Skidmore graduated Trinity Western and became one of two third-generation Skidmore’s to join the company full time.
A Third Generation Skidmore
“You don’t hear of too many businesses that have three generations all working together in a building,” says Garry. He says working so closely with his family in the business they built was an incredible experience.
Despite the fact that he was a Skidmore, Garry says he never received special treatment from his bosses. They treated him just like any other employee and expected him to pull his weight. “They recognized it was their job to teach and mentor me,” says Garry. “They put a lot of pressure on me to grow and perform.”
The early days were a challenge, but Garry loved every minute of it. He worked extensively in the area of cataloging, accessory and glass purchasing, and negotiating with their manufacturers. In 2000, Garry was made Vice-President of the purchasing department. Then, in 2006, he became President of the Skidmore Group. At that point, he started reporting to his father, who remained Chief Executive Officer.
“My father allowed me to run the company the way I wanted,” says Garry. “I was allowed to bring in my team and gave me a lot of room to build it.”
Garry admits that being part of a family business is complicated and not everything is supported by family members, however; Garry and Allan have an excellent working relationship.
Skidmore Group Today
A lot has changed for the Skidmore Group since Garry first got involved. In 2015, the Skidmore family sold their communications assets. Then in May of 2017, they sold 99% of their automotive assets.
“Our whole world changed,” says Garry. “We’d sold off our two of our largest operating companies. We then became a family office. The purpose was to invest in businesses that were on the verge of a large growth trajectory but that didn’t have capital or systems in place and needed help to create that. That’s where we are now with the Skidmore brand. We’re looking for those companies that we can help elevate to the next level.”
Garry couldn’t be more excited with the direction of the company. “We currently have three market segments. Automotive, millwork and signage. Novus Glass is our automotive side, Kitchen Art Design & Citation for kitchens, and Apollo Print for signage. We also have many investments in the financial industry, healthcare, real estate, and public markets,” he says, adding that he’s only been able to get the Skidmore Group where it is today with the support of his family and a solid team of employees.
Giving Back To Trinity Western
Garry says that even though he is very busy, he still likes to stay involved with the Trinity Western community and to give back to the University as much as possible.
One of the many ways Garry has given back is through mentorship. Just like he had older men in his life pour into him as he came into the family business, Garry believes alumni have a powerful opportunity to pour into the lives of students and help them prepare for their future through mentorship.
“And occasionally, if it works out, I get to snag them for the company,” he adds with a laugh.
In 2016, he was able to do just that when he hired his mentee, Joel Hansen, as the Business Development Manager for Novus Glass. Garry is also excited to have his son, Cameron Skidmore, become the fourth generation Skidmore when he graduates from Trinity Western in 2020. Cameron is already working part-time as the Business Development Manager for Apollo Print, a new and growing business in their sign division.
“He has a desire to be involved in some way once he graduates,” says Garry. “We come from a very entrepreneurial family.”
A Leader Who Gives
This is a very exciting time for Garry as he helms his family company in this new season. And now that he’s grown in senior leadership, he has more opportunities than ever to give back. Another way Garry is choosing to do that is by forming a community partnership with the TWU Alumni Association. By joining the new Alumni Business Directory, Garry hopes to provide benefits to TWU Alumni using the Skidmore Group market segments. One such benefit is with Novus Glass. TWU Alumni are now offered a 10% discount for glass repair and window replacement.
For Garry, there’s no greater feeling than knowing he can use what he’s been given to give back to others and help his community thrive. Garry plans to be doing this very thing for as long as his body will allow, working alongside his father and now his son in the Skidmore Group and in partnership with the TWU Alumni Association.