John Wilson is going places

John Wilson

When John Wilson began his studies at the University of Victoria, he was already knee-deep in real life. He’d been married right out of high school, so needed to fit his studies around the demands of a young family. “UVic offered a continuing studies program and the business-admin course, so I started taking that while working full time with my family’s business and raising little ones,” recalls John. There, he met professor Richard Mimick, the Director of Business and Management Programs at the Division of Continuing Studies, who remains an important figure in Wilson’s life. John earned a Certificate in Business Administration in 1998.

Flash-forward two decades, and John, the young, overextended father, is now CEO of Wilson's Group of Companies, which includes Wilson’s Transportation Ltd., Gray Line Sightseeing, YYJ Airport Shuttle, BC Ferries Connector, Capital City Station and Capital City Café. John is also active in the local business community and is currently serving as Vice-Chair of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

As well as getting people to where they need to go, John also helps people fulfill their athletic dreams. He is co-owner of the Victoria Grizzlies Junior A Hockey Club, the Peninsula Panthers Junior Hockey Club and the Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club. John has even married his businesses by introducing a sightseeing bus as a premium viewing point at the Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park, where “the Cats” play. Mimick, his UVic mentor, remains on the scene as part of the HarbourCats advisory board and a season-ticket holder.

John says his focus has always been on family-run businesses that give back to the community. His daughter, Samantha, is a key part of his operations. He learned this model at UVic. “Studying people like the Campbell family and Thrifty Foods and how they grew their business by becoming an integral part of the community was interesting. They were never the cheapest, but people wanted to support the company that gave back to the community,” he says. In turn, John’s successes now allow him to give back to the community.

For example, Samantha and John are chairs of the Camosun Capital Health Campaign, helping to build the nursing program there. Wilson’s is also the official transportation of the UVic Vikes teams. “It’s our way of giving back to the school we both attended,” says Samantha.

John, one of our Distinguished Alumni Award Winners in 2016, was nominated for the award by Mimick. The fact that his life seems to move in circles makes sense for a man who has made his mark transporting people. “Our buses are the newest and most modern fleet in Victoria,” says John. “We do all we can by investing in new technologies. We truly love our community and it’s a beautiful place to live.”