In ev­ery­one’s best in­ter­ests to lend a hand

Phi­lan­thropist prefers to im­prove on po­ten­tial rather than crit­i­cize and down­size

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY CAPE BRE­TON POST STAFF

This is the third in a se­ries of four stories high­light­ing this year’s in­ductees to the Cape Bre­ton Busi­ness and Phi­lan­thropy Hall of Fame.

Poor ser­vice from a now closed hospi­tal that may have con­trib­uted to his mother’s early death could have left Lou Maroun em­bit­tered.

In­stead, the in­ter­na­tional real es­tate in­vestor and phi­lan­thropist drew from that tragic ex­pe­ri­ence to be­come one of the present fa­cil­ity’s big­gest donors.

“With­out go­ing into the de­tails, she would have lived many more years if the hospi­tal at that time, had been a qual­ity fa­cil­ity. It was not, and she died as a re­sult. But while one re­sponse might have been a law­suit against the hospi­tal, my broth­ers and I chose not to fol­low that route,” said Maroun in a re­cent email in­ter­view from his present home in Devon­shire, Ber­muda.

In­stead, when the late Irv­ing Schwartz ap­proached him years later to aid the present

fa­cil­ity, Maroun and his wife Kathryn de­cided to help, in mem­ory of his mother. They paid for the ren­o­va­tion of the wait­ing room that has been named for his par­ents.

Maroun has also given gen­er­ously to many or­ga­ni­za­tions and in­sti­tu­tions over the years, in­clud­ing Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity, even though he never at­tended the in­sti­tu­tion. He is cur­rently work­ing to raise more than $600,000 for the Purdy Craw­ford Chair in Abo­rig­i­nal Busi­ness Stud­ies.

“But I al­ways saw it as a vi­tal Cape Bre­ton in­sti­tu­tion and when my dear friend Joe Shan­non asked me to par­tic­i­pate on the board, I sim­ply could not refuse,” says Maroun. “And I am a true be­liever in the value of ed­u­ca­tion. It al­most sounds like a ‘throw away’ cliché, but we ig­nore ed­u­ca­tion at the peril to our cul­ture, so­ci­ety and econ­omy.”

Maroun is one of four Cape Bre­ton­ers who will be in­ducted into the Cape Bre­ton Busi­ness and Phi­lan­thropy Hall of Fame on May 23 along with Dave Gil­lis and Joe Braun­miller for busi­ness and Fa­ther Al­bert Maroun for phi­lan­thropy. Lou Maroun will also be in­ducted for phi­lan­thropy.

Choos­ing to pro­mote the po­ten­tial in­stead of fix­at­ing on the bad could be the se­cret be­hind Maroun’s suc­cess. Of course, a solid work ethic and at­ten­tion to de­tail helps too. Maroun dis­cov­ered early that he doesn’t mind work­ing long days and he doesn’t like be­ing told what to do — two pre­req­ui­sites for suc­cess in busi­ness.

“Many of my fam­ily and rel­a­tives were busi­ness peo­ple,” says Maroun.

Other in­flu­ences in­cluded Cape Bre­ton busi­ness leg­ends Joe Shan­non and Harold and Irv­ing Schwartz.

“What stands out about each one is not just their suc­cess in busi­ness but most im­por­tantly, the fact that they achieved suc­cess with­out caus­ing dam­age to other peo­ple. And each of them has or had con­trib­uted sig­nif­i­cantly back to their com­mu­ni­ties. Busi­ness peo­ple who achieve suc­cess by tram­pling over oth­ers to get there are fail­ures in my mind.”

Af­ter univer­sity, Maroun worked with the Nova Sco­tia At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Depart­ment in pro­ba­tion ser­vices for about seven years. He might be best known lo­cally for open­ing the Split Crow in 1979, a pop­u­lar pub. He moved over to Roy­com

Realty af­ter­wards where he was in­volved in com­mer­cial sales, prop­erty man­age­ment, leas­ing and real es­tate in­vest­ment ad­vis­ing. He was later in­volved with Sum­mit REIT, a real es­tate in­vest­ment trust where he was CEO from 2002 un­til 2006. It grew to be one of the largest real es­tate in­vest­ment trusts in Canada and was the coun­try’s largest pub­licly owned in­dus­trial land­lords with about $3.5 bil­lion in as­sets. He then moved on to ING Real Es­tate Canada where he was ex­ec­u­tive chair­man, real es­tate ad­vi­sor and as­set man­ager un­til 2009. Then he founded Sigma Real Es­tate Ad­vi­sors/Sigma Cap­i­tal Cor­po­ra­tion which spe­cial­izes in in­ter­na­tional real es­tate ad­vice. He is cur­rently the chair­man. Over his ca­reer he has been in­volved in bil­lions of dol­lars of real es­tate trans­ac­tions.

“I did the­o­ret­i­cally re­tire in 2008 when we moved to Ber­muda (he and his wife Kathryn) although in re­al­ity I lasted about two or three weeks be­fore I set up a new busi­ness which is the cur­rent Sigma Real Es­tate Ad­vi­sors Lim­ited.”

In ad­di­tion to his full work sched­ule, he is in­volved in many char­i­ties and he has served on the boards of nu­mer­ous com­pa­nies and agen­cies.

In his spare time, he en­joys cy­cling, sail­ing, scuba div­ing and fly-fish­ing, an in­ter­est he shares with his wife Kathryn, a pro­fes­sional an­gler.

He has two sons from his first mar­riage who live with their fam­i­lies in North and South Carolina.

Maroun

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