Walter Mah was born into an entrepreneurial family. His father left his homeland in China, traveling extensively before settling in Prince Albert. There he started a Chinese restaurant, and sent for his young wife and family to join him.
Interested in business, Wally attended the University of Saskatchewan convocating from the College of Commerce. For a short time he worked for the federal government before starting his own construction company. North Ridge Development Corporation was founded in 1981.
“It was a great leap of faith to leave my full time job to start my own firm with my business partner, Julius Calyniuk,” says Wally. “It wasn’t easy. Capital took the form of various demand loans and mortgages, in order to get started. My wife, Colleen, continued to work full time, outside of the business, in order to provide the cash flow needed for business and personal expenditures.” The company grew, today employing 68 staff and being considered one of the largest builders in the Saskatoon area.
In 2002, the company went through restructuring and adopted a new mission and value statement. One major component of this statement was the commitment to proactive involvement in the communities in which North Ridge operates.
The statement was a reflection of Wally’s personal values and beliefs. Wally has always supported the community. He has been involved on numerous boards, including Junior Achievement, Saskatoon Community Foundation, New Home Warranty, and Saskatchewan Home Builders’ Association. In addition, Wally was a key force behind the fundraising efforts for the construction of the Saskatoon Kinsmen/Henk Ruys Soccer Centre.
As President of North Ridge, Wally made a substantial financial commitment to numerous local charitable organizations, including those involved in social services, health, arts, and amateur athletics. He has always been a big supporter of Saskatoon. His philosophy is that by giving back to the community, we ultimately strengthen this community and make it a better place to live. “Always leave something better than you found it,” is his motto.
Wally found that Saskatoon Community Foundation was a perfect fit for him. By donating though Saskatoon Community Foundation he provides a permanent legacy for the community, enduring beyond the present. Wally likes that Saskatoon Community Foundation deals with charitable giving in a broad spectrum than most other charities. “By supporting a broad range of local charities, the overall quality of life for all Saskatoon and area residents improve,” says Wally.
Wally, his wife Colleen and sons Patrick and Steven are concerned by the province’s young people leaving to find employment elsewhere. Supporting the Royal University Hospital’s Royal Care Campaign was their way of improving local health care and encouraging our youngest and brightest to stay and work here. Wally chose to endow his donation for the Royal Care Campaign with Saskatoon Community Foundation as a means of helping the hospital for the long-term, encouraging others to invest in the community, and raising the profile of Saskatoon Community Foundation.