Nancy Stibbard

Owner and President, Capilano Suspension Bridge

nancy_stibbard80x120.jpgIn BC’s vibrant tourism industry, Nancy Stibbard, CEO of the Capilano Group of Companies, is a go-to person. Whether it’s new marketing initiatives or hot potato issues - industry peers know that Nancy’s business acumen and ability to work to consensus generate results. That is why she has served in an executive capacity on every significant tourism organization in BC, including Tourism Vancouver as its first female Chair.

Nancy Stibbard was raised on tourism. Her father, Rae Mitchell, had purchased Capilano Suspension Bridge in 1953 and had no qualms about putting her to work scooping ice cream. When the attraction had lost its luster and was put up for sale in the early 1980s, Nancy knew its potential and could not bear to see it leave the family. Nancy’s career path had taken a turn since her early days at the Bridge. Earning a Masters of Social Work from the University of British Columbia, Nancy was working with emotionally disturbed children and raising a family of her own. Nevertheless, she purchased Capilano Suspension Bridge in 1983 and, under pressure to repay very large loans, took the first of many steps to revamp the tired attraction. Today Capilano Suspension Bridge is a must-see destination in Vancouver, including many new services and attractions, such as the one-of-a-kind Treetops Adventure.

Her initial success came from retail – where she reworked the merchandise mix to include more Canadian-made products and upscale apparel and accessories like Burberry and Ralph Lauren. This led her to open new stores in Victoria (1986), Moraine Lake (1989) and Banff (1990). Since those early days Nancy has purchased and rebuilt two luxury accommodation properties in the Canadian Rockies - Moraine Lake Lodge (1992) and Cathedral Mountain Lodge (2002). Her latest project is a new resort at Tofino, opening 2009.

Nancy’s vision is always beyond Capilano Suspension Bridge. She works tirelessly to mobilize others in the industry to work toward common goals. This has led to the creation of cooperative organizations such as the Council of Tourism Associations, recognized as the voice of BC’s tourism industry, and the Vancouver Attractions Group, a marketing consortium enabling the group to participate in initiatives unaffordable individually.

Nancy’s accomplishments have not gone unrecognized. Award highlights include Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year (Pacific Canada) in Hospitality/Tourism (1996), Business in Vancouver’s Influential Women in Business Award (2000), Tourism Vancouver’s Harold J. Merilees Award (2004), the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC)’s inaugural National Tourism Excellence Award as Business of the Year (2003), TIAC’s National Tourism Excellence Award as Innovator of the Year (2004) and Tourism BC’s Outside the Box Award for Innovation (2005).

Looking to the future, there is still much to do. The Tofino resort is still in planning stages and Nancy is always on the lookout for new opportunities that fulfill her vision, “to create experiences that people are amazed by.” And, taking a page out of her father’s book, when Nancy first purchased the Bridge, she put her young son John to work folding T-shirts – a move guaranteed to ensure a bright future for the Capilano Group of Companies!

 


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