Remembering John Aldred
John Aldred, one of SAIT's great benefactors and champions has died after a lengthy illness.
Aldred had a long and illustrious relationship with SAIT, giving generously of his time, expertise, and finances. He served as a leader and advisor on a number of major projects — as co-chair of the Promising FuturesTM Campaign in support of the Trades and Technology Complex, as the Vice Chair of SAIT's Board of Governors (2001-2006), and as a chair of the Invest in Technology fundraising campaign (2001-2006).
In April 2010, John and Cheryl Aldred made history when they gave $15 million to SAIT's Trades and Technology Complex. At the time it was the largest personal gift ever given to a polytechnic or college in Canada, a gift that helped transform the SAIT campus and change the conversation about applied education.
"My family is investing in the Trades and Technology Complex because not only will it be transformational for SAIT for many generations to come, but it will elevate the stature of trades and how they are perceived as a career choice," Aldred said at the donation announcement. "I am proof that a trades education can not only result in a rewarding career, doing something you love, but it can lead to great success that enables you to give back to others."
Aldred Centre, the largest building in the new Complex, was named in honour of the gift.
Aldred downplayed the importance of his contribution, referring to it as a sound investment in the future of SAIT and its students. "It's something I call ‘passionate engagement,'" he said. "It's not all about giving money, but getting involved in our community. Passionate involvement comes with the sense of making a difference, however small."
Aldred immigrated to Canada in 1968 with $400 in his pocket. His first job was as a mechanic's helper in Winnipeg. He eventually founded Enerflex Systems, a Calgary-based world-wide supplier to the oil and gas industry. Enerflex was sold to Toromont Industries in 2010 for $670 million — at the time of the sale, the company had more than $1 billion in annual revenues and 3,000 employees around the world.
Helping students advance their education was one of Aldred's priorities. In 1999, he founded the Cadmus Foundation to support the trades with scholarships and to improve the perception, image and social status of the trades as a career. The Cadmus Foundation has awarded close to $1.3 million to 308 students since its inception. Through the foundation, the Aldreds also created the Cadmus Trades Teaching Chair in support of instruction and teaching excellence. "Almost without exception, people who are really successful have always had someone who taught them something or gave them a break that put them on their path to success. Thirty years later you remember the people that gave you a break," said Aldred.
Aldred has been inducted into the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame and the Calgary Business Hall of Fame. He was also awarded an honorary degree from SAIT in 2008. In 2015 SAIT president and CEO David Ross initiated the President's Cornerstone Award to be bestowed upon an individual who has made a transformational impact to SAIT and the community. Aldred was rightly the first recipient.
John Aldred is survived by his wife Cheryl and his children Ryan, Jennifer and Jessica, as well as his brother Michael.
SAIT held a Celebration of Life in Aldred's honour on Saturday, March 12 in the Aldred Centre on the SAIT campus.
In lieu of flowers, the Aldred family invites contributions to the Cadmus Teaching Chair program in John's memory.