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The Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship was founded through a partnership between the Schlegel family and the School of Business & Economics.
Bob Schlegel (BA Economics ’72) grew up on a Mennonite farm in Waterloo Region, where the spirit of entrepreneurship flourished. His father, a hard-working dairy farmer, opened a gasoline station in the 1940’s and later created a prosperous nursing home business.
Following in the footsteps of his family, Schlegel opened his own accounting firm just three years after graduation. Later, he and Myrna joined his father’s nursing-home business as owners and operators of two nursing and retirement centres in Canada and together built a chain of 13 more in Texas which they sold in 1994. Myrna, a registered nurse, is also a graduate of specialized health administration programs at Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas.
Traveling back and forth from Canada to Texas, Schlegel saw potential in landscaping bricks that could withstand freeze-and-thaw cycles. In 1980, he co-founded Pavestone Co. in Texas, which became the largest manufacturer of concrete paving stones and landscape products in the United States. With over $400 million in annual revenues, the company has 20 production facilities, serves 40 states, and employs over 1,500 people.
He and Myrna, his college sweetheart whom he married at the chapel of Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, are well-known philanthropists both in Texas and Canada. In 1998, the Schlegels made a significant donation to found Laurier’s Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship.
The Schlegels have been recognized with numerous awards and honours for their achievements and contributions, including:
- 1998 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award
- 1999 America’s Free Enterprise Legend Award by Students in Free Enterprise
- 2000 Humanitarian Award by the National Research & Medical Center
- 2001 Tom Landry Award of Excellence in Volunteerism
- 2002 Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (Dallas Chapter)
- 2002 induction into the Texas Philanthropy Hall of Fame
- 2002 Father of the Year Award (Dallas/Fort Worth)
- 2008 Horatio Alger Award
- 2008 induction as a lifetime member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans
In 1998, Laurier awarded Bob and Myrna honorary doctorates in recognition of their business success and public service. The Schlegels have been married for over 30 years and have four children: Kimberly, Kirby (MBA ‘03), Kari, and Krystal.
Myrna is currently President of the Schlegel Horizon Foundation, which is dedicated to philanthropy in health care, education, and the arts. She is also Chair of Board of Directors for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
The spirit of entrepreneurship continues to live on in the Schlegel household within their four adult children, yet they remain grounded in their Mennonite heritage with a mantra passed on from Schlegel’s father: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”