David Burt: General Counsel and Secretary, STAPLES Canada

David Burt: General Counsel and Secretary, STAPLES Canada

It was exactly ten years ago that STAPLES incorporated a 4,000 SF fitness facility into their new Home Office in Richmond Hill. Under David Burt’s leadership he was able to convince the Management Team to embrace the Bull Durham philosophy…  ‘Build it and They Will Come’.

David is humble when it comes to accepting credit for the STAPLES Home Office gym and wellness program. “My leadership style is to lead by example,” he says. And David has truly done just that.

David has been a strong advocate of fitness and sport most of his life. Skiing, running, cycling and hockey have been favoritie pastimes. When it comes to fitness, David’s accomplishments are many. He has completed a dozen marathons including the prestigious Boston Marathon.

When his knees started to give him trouble David took up swimming and road biking and got involved in triathlons. In the last 25 years he has completed over 50 triathlons including three World Triathlon Championships.

Today David is a little more relaxed about his fitness regime. “I know that my daily workout in the STAPLES in Motion Fitness Centre contributes to my positive mood. I am not good when I’m cranky,” David confesses.

“The realization of a fitness facility in our new home office was a dream come true,” says David, a 22 year STAPLES veteran. “One of our corporate objectives is to be ‘a low cost operator’, so the concept of an on-site fitness facility was not an easy sell.”
Tri Fit worked with STAPLES to prepare a compelling business case and toured the Management Team through a few corporate facilities to see what was possible. The leg work paid off and they have not looked back.

Ten years later the fitness centre continues to thrive and act as a hub for Associate well-being. They have 50 percent of Associates as paying members of the gym and over 75 percent of Associates participating in the many different wellness activities available to all employees free of charge.

“One of the unexpected wins of this popular amenity,” says David, “is that it has brought Associates together in ways we never expected.” David works out daily at 3 pm and has a group of colleagues from different departments with the same afternoon time slot. “We might not have known one another otherwise,” says David, “and we have become fast friends.”

“We used to be a very buttoned down work environment,” says David. “No one left their desk. Once we moved to the new building it took very little time for a flex culture to take shape. At STAPLES we have a work hard play hard philosophy but we firmly believe that taking breaks throughout the day, including a fitness break, increases productivity.”

David’s advice to other corporate leaders is that fitness is good for business. “We are a better place since we committed to building a healthy work environment. Today our efforts are showing a return. We are also able to attract and retain lively, energetic and committed people. We now have new ways for Associates to forge relationships and have fun at work.”

News of David’s retirement at the end of the summer is bitter sweet. “I will miss my work and the convenience and camaraderie of the on-site gym, but I am excited about the next phase of my life with more time for travel, family, the cottage, and charity work.”

David is hoping that in lieu of the proverbial ‘gold watch’, STAPLES will give him a lifetime membership to the STAPLES gym! He is proud to leave a legacy of fun and fitness in the workplace for Associates to enjoy for many years to come.