Graham Lee, President and CEO of GSL Group, developed a business sense and entrepreneurial drive at a young age, selling his Halloween candy at the age of five. After founding several businesses in his teens, Graham created a business plan while working on his UBC degree in the commerce undergraduate entrepreneurship program, which set the stage for RG Properties, a unique start-up real estate development company that he founded in 1989 at the age of 25.
GSL Group, of which Graham is the chief executive officer and sole shareholder, is one of Canada’s leading commercial/recreational development and operations companies. GSL has long-term real estate holdings in properties developed by GSL, including Planet Ice recreational facilities, multi-use arenas, hotels and shopping centres, residential mixed-use developments, major industrial buildings, construction, the Victoria Royals WHL hockey team, a private airplane charter business, and blueberry farming, as well as operations in food and beverage, concert production, ticketing, ice arena operations, outdoor music festivals, and online fantasy sports (officepools.com).
Driven by his love of hockey and its impact on Canadian culture, Graham focused on Canada’s need to provide better facilities for all levels of hockey. With its Planet Ice facilities, GSL Group has become the largest privately owned company developing and operating ice rinks in Canada, and in the early 1990s, it was the first company to work in partnership with cities to provide much-needed ice time for communities. RG Properties, a subsidiary of the GSL Group of companies, was nationally recognized for this pioneering work, winning the Canadian Infrastructure Award from the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships as well as Canada’s best facilities under 10,000 seats and Top 10 under 10,000 seats in North America by Pollstar.
Graham’s impressive business acumen has resulted in many awards, including Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award for Real Estate/Construction, the Globe and Mail’s Top 40 Under 40 in Canada, Equity Magazine’s Top Fifteen Leaders of the Next Millennium, and Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 Under 40.
Most recently, Graham was recognized by the Jack Diamond Sports Personality of the Year as the 2018 Jack Diamond Award Recipient, which recognizes an individual who has consistently demonstrated a competitive and cooperative spirit as well as excellence in the field of sport, and who has made a positive contribution to our community.
Graham commits his time and financial support to the community and UBC. He has been appointed to the Board of Governors for UBC, the Sauder School of Business Faculty Advisory Board, and the UBC President’s Athletics Advisory Council. He is also a governor of the Western Hockey League, has served as a director of the Vancouver Aquarium, the Royal BC Museum and the 2010 Olympic Bid Committee, and works with the Boys and Girls Club of Vancouver providing hockey programs to under privileged kids.