A legacy, family history and entrepreneurial story book that captures the vision of Ron Schlegel and the story of RBJ Schlegel through a narrative that is driven by the transgenerational family values and entrepreneurial spirit of the Schlegel family
Launched in December 2020, Building Community—The Vision of Ron Schlegel and the Story of RBJ Schlegel takes a deep dive into the entrepreneurial vision of Kitchener, Ontario-based community builder Dr. Ronald (Ron) Schlegel. The two-volume book traces Ron’s life story and the journey of RBJ Schlegel, the umbrella organization for a diverse group of companies including Schlegel Villages, Homewood Health, Schlegel Urban Development and Schlegel Poultry, over the course of six decades. The evolution of the various companies owned and operated by the Schlegel family is told in the broader context of value-driven, transgenerational family entrepreneurship with the larger purpose of impacting transformative change. The book touches on larger societal themes, such as the culture around aging and mental health, as well as transformative approaches aimed at creating environments where people can live with dignity and purpose. The ultimate lesson to be learned from Building Community is that purpose-driven entrepreneurship that is built on a clear vision and unshakable family values creates a lasting impact in this world.
When the Schlegel family approached us with the idea of creating a book capturing the story of their group of companies, their vision was that of a comprehensive legacy book that conveys the RBJ Schlegel story in multiple dimensions. A family deeply committed to its transgenerational values and innately aware of how they have formed the vision and values of RBJ Schlegel, Ron, Barb, James, Rob and Brad Schlegel were looking for a legacy book that captures the story of the family business in the broader context of the family’s deep roots in the agricultural and Mennonite heritage of Waterloo Region. Deeply influenced by the legacy of his father Wilfred Schlegel, Ron’s entrepreneurial vision, as expressed in the various organizations he has created, is driven by the motivation of building community and the book had to genuinely reflect that larger purpose.
Within the values-driven framework defined by the Schlegel family, Building Community captures the story of the Schlegels going back to Ron’s Anabaptist ancestors coming to Ontario from Europe in 1839. The book traces the evolution of Ron’s entrepreneurial vision back to his father, reflecting Ron’s understanding that every generation builds on the shoulders of the previous one. The stories of the various companies under the RBJ Schlegel umbrella—ranging from retirement and long-term care Seniors Villages to mental health hospitals and treatment centers, to agri-business and urban development—are told individually, with the family values and the overarching vision of Building Community connecting them with each other through a continuous narrative.
Interviews with the Schlegel family plus over 60 individuals, including the former Governor General of Canada, the Hon. David Johnston, provide the source base for telling the RBJ Schlegel story in its many dimensions. Separate chapters on the values foundation, the RBJ family culture, the Seniors Village concept, as well as community involvement and philanthropy, add context for business-unit focused chapters on Schlegel Villages, Homewood Health, Schlegel Urban Development and Schlegel Poultry. Standalone chapters on the founding and evolution of the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA), which marks the culmination of Ron’s dream as a community builder, entrepreneur and trained scientist, explore the global impact of his vision and of the family’s substantial philanthropic contributions towards transforming the culture around aging.