Over the weekend I heard of last week’s passing of Leonard Lee, the founder and CEO of the Canadian company Lee Valley & Veritas. Mr Lee birthed the company that became the woodworker’s household name throughout North America with many stores in his native country of Canada. I was always struck by Leonard Lee’s insights and innovative entrepreneurialism in the development of both Lee Valley and then Veritas as a modern day tool making company that flies in the face of Asian manufacturing*. Any man that can develop such fine companies within a western economy as he did has to be recognised.
You can see the details of Leonard Lee’s life in the memoriam here:
Any father will always be sorely missed by family, friends and work colleagues. Having been privileged to visit Canada and spend time with those continuing the efforts that started with Mr Lee I can vouch still for the standards set by Mr Lee for progressing the company into its future — customer satisfaction, integrity and treating the customer as a friend. The basis for my admiration of this company came from the lived reality of these three things.
Of course Lee Valley & Veritas are responsible for the design, development and manufacture of dozens of designs in tools and related equipment that we woodworkers now depend on all the more, filling the gaps left by the demise of makers now gone. For me, and I am sure many, many a thousand, it has been a privilege to in some small way be associated with the work of Leonard Lee and the company he founded.
*Asian manufacturing is very often governed by global demands for ever cheaper (and thereby cheapened) products and it has become common place for companies once known in domestic realms as local manufacturers to no longer actually make products of their own but force the global manufactories toward lower priced goods that then affect the quality at point of sale. In Mr Leonard Lee’s case he established a home-grown business when other well-known and long-established companies were taking their business elsewhere.