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3 min read

Finding Balance: It's About Time Management

Northland Properties’ CEO Tom Gaglardi knows that a business built upon the line-up of passion, hard work and trust will always win the day.

Balance is hard to find. Whether it’s a lack of work-life alignment contributing to stress in your workplace or home, or an unbalanced hockey line driving a play offside. Striking the perfect combination can be challenging to achieve for any business owner or team.

No one knows this better than Tom Gaglardi. As CEO of Northland Properties — one of Canada’s fastest growing hospitality and property development company — he strives to find a balance between his 50+ international hotels, six restaurant chains, three hockey teams, arenas, a mountain resort in Revelstoke, BC and his family of five. But when passion meets hard work, Tom and his family shine — all while stewarding a billion-dollar, Canadian-built empire.

Focused on passion, built on success

Bob Gaglardi, Tom’s father, was the forerunner who started the company back in the 1960s. He was self-employed with both a fuel and a trucking/gravel business, building gas stations and then selling them to major oil companies once they were completed. By virtue of being in the gas station business, Bob was then able to partner into a hotel deal in Smithers, BC in 1963. And from there, the very first Sandman Hotel opened three years later. 

From these humble beginnings, the now billion-dollar Northland Properties Corporation was born. The company has expanded to own more than 50 Sandman and Sutton properties across Canada, two in the UK and one opening in Dallas with five more planned. “We buy raw land and use our own assets. We have all our own in-house designers and architecture,” Tom explains. “We own our own brands, with the exception of Denny’s where we own the rights in Canada. From owning the raw land to operating our restaurants and hotels, we are fully vertical.”

Together with his father, Tom has continued to build their network of hotels, restaurants, venues and hockey teams, which are all household names like Denny’s, Sutton Place Hotels, Moxie’s Grill & Bar, Chop Steakhouse & Bar and the Dallas Stars — to name just a few.

Getting into the game

One of Tom’s passions and biggest inspiration for balance is rooted in the great Canadian game of hockey. As a business owner, his involvement in the game began back in 2007 with the purchase of a Western Hockey League (WHL) team, the Kamloops Blazers. With this success under Tom’s belt, Northland Properties ventured forward into National Hockey League ownership and purchased the Dallas Stars in 2011 and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Texas Stars, in 2014. Northland Properties’ ownership has been widely considered one of the leading reasons why the franchise was able to remain in Dallas, a notoriously difficult hockey market.

But his favourite team members are a bit closer to home: Tom’s three boys all play competitive hockey, and he makes it a point to be around for as many of their games and events as possible despite a demanding schedule that involves a lot of travel. “I’ve been able to hire well,” Tom notes.

“I’m surrounded by great people, and this has allowed me the freedom to enjoy some work-life balance with my family.”

Growing with the organization

Tom has been part of Northland Properties for the majority of his life. Beginning as a busboy at one of the restaurants at age 13, he went on to become the CEO of the hotel group at 23 and then the Northland Properties Corporation at 26.

Over the years, he worked in almost every area of the business prior to taking the helm. And having such a diverse background allowed him to know more about how to hire the right people for each role. “I’m fortunate to have a business where I can hire the best people,” he says.

A western banking win

Northland Properties’ banking relationship with Canadian Western Bank began approximately 10 years ago. “We talked to them about doing business for a few years before we actually did. What finally made us pull the trigger was that the former CFO of Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Peter Greenway, joined the bank,” Tom explains. “And the relationship we had with Peter brought our business to them.”

Tom also particularly values the Western Canadian connection because CWB truly knows business in Western Canada. “They’re Westerners,” he proudly states. “A western-based bank dealing with western-minded people. If you’re talking about Alberta entrepreneurs, it’s a real benefit to be able to go through an Alberta-headquartered bank for a decision to be made.” And the employees at CWB couldn’t agree more as they have the knowledge and experience to help customers at the local level in various regions throughout Canada.