Tim Snelgrove: coffee innovator, bio tech supporter, entrepreneur, mentor

Column 127


For those of us who’ve lived in Barrie a long time, the Snelgrove name is tied in with entrepreneurial effort and communications. Ralph Snelgrove started CKVR Television; his brother Bert managed CKBB and CKCB radio stations; the two families lived on Theresa St and the kids went to public and high school here, carving places for themselves in their own right.

This column is devoted to Tim Snelgrove, eldest son of Ralph side of the family.

Tim died in June at age 70, after a 20 year struggle with Parkinsons Disease during which time his mental ambition never stopped.

Here’s an example:

An enthusiastic long distance bike rider, he identified a young man in a bike shop who just seemed ‘stalled’ in his life. Tim invited him to talk about developing a direction. The kid didn’t respond. Tim wouldn’t let go and continued to call and email until finally the kid eventually relented, met with Tim, moved to Texas and became an emergency responder. Tim helped him identify his dream.

This same young man was one of the team called to Tim’s Shanty Bay home by 911, working on tim at poolside to save his life trying to save the life of the man who, coincidentally, changed his life

Tim…the kid who launched his own backyard radio station in the family shed

Tim…the kid who shot the hole in the water tank at the family home and tried to convince his father the he (father) did it.

Tim…living with stage 5 parkinsons

Tim…the student who saw the need for fair trade coffee and opened a shop to sell beans

Tim…the entrepreneur who saw ahead, and launched the first Chapters, followed by an executive search and venture capital company

Tim…who always did more than he should, especially as Parkinsons gained ground in his body

Tim…good friend to his classmates from kindergarten at Codrington School

Tim…who raised chickens in the family garage and in adulthood raised them for a different purpose

Tim…grandfather of 5: Megan, Dougie, Clair, Sophia, Laila

Tim… father of 3 daughters: Althea, Deirdre, Alexandra

Tim…husband to Teresa for 43 years

Tim…died just before his 70th birthday

A true biography of Tim would have a hectic timeline, but he met his wife of 43 years, Teresa Wood at Dalhousie. He then attended Ryerson and later earned his MBA at Western. He and Teresa were a team in most of their endeavours. Tim was the ultimate connecor, looking for organizations with lots of movement and mentorship. For him, business was all about relationships.

Business included Peel Poultry out of Port Perry where he met his first mentor, Dr John Price. You can chuckle as you envision Tim flying baby chicks to Guatemala, nestled in a DC 8 with chicks starting to hatch!

For Tim, building something really mattered. He and Teresa started to think about opening a coffee shop between his first and second year MBA. He collected furniture, built doors in his and Teresa’s garage and opened in 1975 in a west London plaza strip mall. Timothy’s just sold coffee and tea for two years and started serving coffee in 1977, same year as the beginning of Second Cup.

Bought a store owned by Melita in Sherway Gardens and turned it into their poured coffee pilot. Margins much better and they introduced pouring to the chain’s existing 7 stores. By 1985 when they sold Timothy’s there were 50 stores. They sold the roasting plant and licencing to Green Mountain Coffee and the Keurig machine.

Tim went back to Caldwell Partners, an executive search team. Then he opened a bookstore cafe, called Chapters at Yonge and Eghlinton in Toronto. Larry Stevenson bought the name Chapters from them and started his book selling empire prior to blending with Indigo.

Tim and Teresa like to start and build and succeeed.

They opened stores called General Wellbeing, selling medical supplies. Their appetitie for startting new things was insatiable. They used their combined backgrounds to found Snelgrove Associates in downtown Toronto, an executive search for the venture capital business, for bio tech, start up tech and ultimately clean tech companies. For the past 15 years the husband/wife team have been helping facilitate additions to companies. This has been Tim’s most important work, in Teresa’s opinion.

While they lived in various cities, their base was Teresa’s grandparents’ property in Shanty Bay where they built a new home three years ago. Parkinsons forced Tim into retirement three years ago, but he was never idle.

It was from St Thomas Church in Shanty Bay that Tim was mourned and buried. He was the very proud father of three dauhters, five grandchildren and brother of Lyn and Toby and Liz and Eloise.

Tim…curious, fascinated by people, innovative, tolerant, courageous, risk taker, and loving dad, grandad and husband.

Quite a legacy by a man gone too soon. Thanks, Tim.