Dean Muncaster, a Sudbury High School graduate who The Globe 2and Mail called “one of the great business minds of his generation,” died March 13, 2012 at the age of 78 while on holiday in Mexico.
Muncaster started sweeping the floors at his father’s Canadian Tire store in Sudbury when he was 12. Twenty years later he was named president and CEO of the chain.
Muncaster attended Western University and earned an MBA at Northwestern University in Chicago. His thesis on Canadian Tire impressed company president A.J. Billes, and he was offered a job after university.
At Canadian Tire, Muncaster modernized the company introducing performance and inventory measurements that were revolutionary in the 1950s. For a period in the 1960s, Muncaster returned to Sudbury to run his father’s store. When A.J. Billes retired in 1965, he named the kid from Sudbury as his successor.
At that time, Canadian Tire had annual sales of $100 million. When Muncaster left the company 19 years later in 1985, the number of stores had increased in Western Canada and sales were $2 billion a year.
While at the helm of Canadian Tire, Muncaster served on numerous corporate boards including Ontario Hydro, Bell Canada and CP Hotels.
Muncaster’s ill-fated plan to expand the chain into the United States and icy relationship with the Billes family are cited as the reason he left Canadian Tire.
In the 1990s, he briefly ran the Bargain Harold’s chain but failed to rescue it from bankruptcy.
In 1995 he married Joan Cameron, his fourth wife, and settled in Collingwood where he served as chair of the Collingwood Utilities Service (Collus).
He is survived by his wife, three sons and five grandchildren.