In 1947, Ron Southern and his father each invested $2,000 in the original Alberta Trailer Hire Co., which later became ATCO Ltd. Mr. Southern received a Bachelor of Science degree in the faculty of Medicine from the University of Alberta in 1953 and began to work fulltime for the company. Mr. Southern is credited with transforming the company to what it is today — one of Canada’s leading corporations, with assets of approximately $13 billion and employing more than 8,800 persons.
The ATCO Group is engaged in Utilities (pipelines, natural gas and electricity transmission and distribution), Energy (power generation and midstream services), Structures & Logistics (manufacturing, logistics and noise abatement) and Technologies (business systems solutions).
In 1976, Mr. Southern received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Calgary, a distinction also conferred on him in 1991 by the University of Alberta. In 1983, he received The Canadian Tourism Medallion in recognition of significant contributions to the tourism industry. The University of Alberta named him Business Man of the Year in 1986, and Toastmasters International honoured him with the Communication and Leadership Award for 1988. Mr. Southern was recognized in 1990 on the annual Macleans Magazine Honour Roll.
Mr. Southern received Canada’s highest distinction when he was inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada in 1986. He was inducted as a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1990, in recognition for his promotion of Anglo-Canadian relations in the fields of commerce, culture and sport. In June 1995, he was promoted to the level of Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In August 2003, the Governor General of Canada named Mr. Southern an Officer within the Order of Canada and in February 2007, he was promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada. In September 2006, Mr. Southern was appointed Officer of the Order of Orange Nassau by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands. In 2012, Mr. Southern was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, which acknowledges significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.
In 1990, he received the International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award, presented by the University of Manitoba through the Faculty of Management, and in 1995 Mr. Southern was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. In June 1996, he was awarded the CEO of the Year Award by a consortium of senior business people in Canada and sponsored by The Financial Post, CTV, Canada Post and the Caldwell Partners. Other honours include the Holland Trade Award from the Government of the Netherlands in 1985 for his efforts in the field of commerce. Mr. Southern was inducted into the Canadian Manufacturing Hall of Fame in 2007. In April, 2008 the Modular Building Institute inducted Mr. Southern and co-founder S.D. Southern, into the Institute’s Hall of Fame for their vision and dedication in pioneering the workforce housing industry.
During his career, he has served as a Director of numerous North American and International corporations including Lafarge, Southam, Chrysler, Imasco, Canadian Airlines, Fletcher Challenge, Royal & SunAlliance and Canadian Pacific.
Mr. Southern is a Canadian Member of the Trilateral Commission. In addition to his chairmanship and governance responsibilities in the ATCO Group of Companies, Mr. Southern is a Director of AKITA Drilling Ltd. and Chairman of Sentgraf Enterprises Ltd.
Mr. Southern is also Co-Chairman, along with his wife Marg, of the internationally recognized Spruce Meadows show jumping venue. In recognition of Ron and Marg’s founding of Spruce Meadows, they were inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in November, 2006.
*Biography and photo supplied by Atco Group.