In this day and age, finding a genuine and caring business owner who makes giving back to the community, staff wellness, and safe working practices a priority, is a rarity. In our vibrant and thriving local business community, we have such a person who has pioneered these values and integrated them seamlessly into both his business and personal life. This community and business leader is Bruce Kehler.
Bruce’s family had immigrated to Canada from Russia. He is a first generation Canadian, the eldest of four children, and started working at a very young age. He started from humble beginnings, working at a lumberyard at fifteen.
While Bruce is known to many as a highly successful entrepreneur and market leader in the building supplies and lumber industry, there is much more to this man than simply his having a strong business acumen. Bruce is also a philanthropist and mentor, having supported many institutions and projects that help some of the most vulnerable in our community. His motto in life is, “Sharing is Caring.”
Bruce has donated over $250,000 to Surrey Urban Mission Society (SUMS), an organization located in the Whalley area of Surrey that supports economically challenged families this year alone.
In the last decade, Bruce has donated over 1 million dollars to various organizations including PCCA- Pakistani- Canadian Cultural Association of BC, PCC- Pakistan Cultural Association, Abbotsford Funeral Home, PICS – Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society, BC Cancer Society, Mamta Foundation, Rotary Clubs, Homeless Shelter Chilliwack, Surrey/Vancouver Miri Piri Mela, Vaisakhi Parade and Surrey Hindu Temple. He has also supported sports organizations and events such as a Kabaddi tournament in Surrey/Abbotsford, Cricket, Field Hockey, and many melas in the Lower Mainland.
His social work extends beyond boundaries, borders, race or colour. He states that his mission in life is to share, “If I see someone struggling at a difficult time in life, I will extend my hand to help.”
Bruce is a caring and loving husband and father. He credits his drive to give back to the community to the values of his family. He fondly talks about the teachings of his parents.
And while he stresses the importance of education, he cautions Education is not the Be all and End all, a lack of a privileged childhood, being a new immigrant or starting life afresh should not be a barrier towards achieving one’s dreams. Bruce has assisted many immigrants in starting a life, giving them an opportunity to grow and succeed. Many of these people he mentored are well settled and have succeeded beyond even what they could have ever imagined.
In Bruce’s words, there are two kinds of people, the “Dreamers, and the Doers.” “Dreamers” only dream while “Doers” dream and then do. Bruce is a Doer. His typical work day starts at 4 am and ends at midnight. “There are no shortcuts, pain, and gain, efforts, and rewards are proportionate.”
It is not only in the community that Bruce sets a high standard for caring, sharing and giving. His companies are an industry leader in safety standards and employee wellness, and he fosters a genuinely multicultural and diverse workforce. “I see no color, I see no gender,” he states. About 300 people work for his various businesses. For Bruce safety comes first. “My biggest fear has an employee that’s working for me die or injure themselves because of negligence on my part or my company’s part. It is all about people, families – everybody on my team and my customers. “
It is an honor and a privilege to listen to Bruce’s incredible life story and journey – of someone who both appreciates the hard work it takes to be successful and sees the importance of giving back to those who may be struggling. Rather than rest on his laurels, he continues to strive to make his community – and himself – better. “The more I make, the more I strive to give back,” he states with conviction. And we’re all grateful for that.