In 1951, William (Bill) Kitchen with his wife, Jean launched Lansing Building Supply, a building material store at Sheppard and Willowdale Avenue, in what had once been known as the Village of Lansing. Bill had recently graduated from Commerce at U. of Ts Victoria College. It was here, amongst a class of 164 that he met one of the six women to graduate from Commerce in 1949, Jean Fraser. They were married in 1950 and with one other employee began their business venture a year later. Over fifty years, the company grew and prospered to employ just under a thousand full and part time employees and two generations of Kitchens at nine locations in the Greater Toronto Area. In 1989, Bill’s son, John Kitchen assumed the role of president of what was then known as Lansing Buildall and continued to grow the business in the face of an ever changing business environment. In 1998 Lansing merged with Revy Homes Centres and eventually sold to RONA in 2001.
Bill Kitchen made a point of introducing himself to as many employees as possible, believing that every employee, no matter what position they held, made a valued contribution to the success of the business. Bill had a keen eye for recognizing an individuals potential and took great pride in providing an environment where that potential could be met. With this in mind, the Foundation believes supporting Toronto based initiatives that provide youth in an ‘at risk’ environment with opportunities to realise their potential would be a fitting way of giving back to the community.
Bill and Jean shared a great love for the outdoors. Many holidays were spent canoe tripping in Northern Ontario and backpacking throughout the Rockies. Their passion for such has been passed down through two generations. Hence, the secondary focus of the Foundation is to support projects which target the conservation of natural resources within Ontario and British Columbia.