The Executive Director of the Western University Sarnia-Lambton Research Park will retire by the end of this year after nearly four years on the job.
Tom Strifler is credited with helping stabilize the future prospects of the Park, including diversifying its occupancy roster while growing the Park’s occupancy rate. Under Strifler’s leadership, the Park has assisted over a dozen incubator projects including some prominent graduates into the commercial sector such as BioAmber and KmX.
“When I first came on board in 2013, there were some financial challenges in terms of revenue coming into the park and it was just starting to fill its research and commercialization space, so that was another big challenge,” said Strifler, who has had a long career in the petrochemical industry.
Over the past four years, there has been some big changes at the Park.
“We’ve more than doubled our revenue and we’ve got occupancy up to 93%,” said Strifler. “It was below 50% when I got on board.”
“We’ve been able to become financially self-sustaining,” he said, noting that was a goal when he took the job.
“Our most significant accomplishment is the overall progress we have made in establishing the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park as a true leader in commercialization of new technologies,” said Strifler.
Strifler said advertising and actively reaching out potential tenants has helped the Park grow and he hopes his successor carries on the strategy.
“I hope my successor brings new thoughts and opportunities to the table as well,” he said.
“Tom’s vision and leadership has allowed the Park’s reputation and influence to grow exponentially on the local, national, and international stages,” said Mike Bradley, Chair of the Community Development Corporation and Mayor of Sarnia. “His calm professionalism and insightful advice will be greatly missed.”
Once retired, Strifler said he plans to relax, spend a little time traveling, and looks forward to spending more time with family and friends.
“It was a challenge, but a pleasure in the four years I spent there. The best part of any job is getting to meet and work with new people and establish relationships and friendships that stand the test of time,” Strifler said.
The Community Development Corporation’s Board of Directors will be discussing succession plans in the coming weeks, according to a County of Lambton news release.
The Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park was created in November 2003 with the inception of the Community Development Corporation, owned by the County of Lambton. The Research Park manages and operates the Community Development Corporation owned property.
The Park boasts 270,000 square feet of lease-able area. In addition to its labs and research space, it is home to a number of high profile tenants including Nova Chemicals, Enbridge, the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, and WorleyParsons.