David Aplin shares his story about what makes Edmonton special to him with www.edmontonstories.ca.

My love affair with Edmonton started back in 1974 when my young family and I moved from Ontario. The company I’d come to work for closed shortly after our move, and we were left with three little kids and an uncertain future. But we loved the city—so we tried to find a way to stay. 

I’d gone to the University of Toronto for engineering, but that life for me felt foreign and didn’t fit my personality. Business was my calling, and being stranded in Edmonton turned out to be a great opportunity. It was how David Aplin Group was formed. 

A friend from Toronto had bought an employment agency and told me that I’d be good at that type of work. That got me started. David Aplin
Group began as the smallest of businesses—just me in my basement. 
I’d close the door while the kids and family bustled about. The business was built brick by brick, person by person from that basement beginning. We were able to get a tiny office as our client list grew and the business focused on information technology, engineering, accounting, sales and human resources. After initial expansions in Calgary and then Winnipeg and Vancouver, we went national, adding offices in Halifax, Ottawa, Mississauga and Toronto. 

Edmonton was a responsive, open community where, with the help of my wife Grace and our staff, I built this company. Edmonton was its birthplace.

From its humble inception my wife and I felt an obligation to give back to the city that supported us. We’ve done this by donating to the United Way, Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and other arts organizations. We are drawn to the United Way because it does much needed work at the grass roots level—for example with homelessness and women’s abuse issues. This feeling is manifest in our company, where over 80% of employees pledge to the United Way. We are triple the national average for our ‘participation rate’ of giving and we match employee donations. This giving spirit as well as a huge streak of volunteerism are naturally present in the city.

Edmonton is the place where we set roots and grew our business. Our children were able to stay in the city to get their first degrees because it’s a place of balance and opportunity, from the amazing educational facilities to great professional sports teams to its appreciation of the arts.

What I find as the owner of David Aplin Group is that the professional folks that have been recruited here could work in Calgary or Toronto, but they choose Edmonton as a place to lay their foundations and to grow their careers. People tend to stay here—there is a certain stability that just isn’t easily found elsewhere.