Cyril Leeder has left the Myers Automotive Group as its CEO to rejoin the Ottawa Senators as President, but will remain with the company as Executive Chair of the board.
The 64-year-old joined Myers as its first CEO when hired five years ago by brothers Harry and Rob Mews, after leaving the Senators as its president and one of the sports franchise’s original founders when it began in 1992.
Leeder had known incoming Senators’ principal owner Michael Andlauer, who had previously been a minority owner of the Montreal Canadiens. When the Senators were up for sale last November, Andlauer contacted Leeder to help him with his bid and put together a group of local investors. When Andlauer was selected as the preferred bidder in June, he approached Leeder about rejoining the team as President.
Leeder helped in the appointment of his successor Geoff Publow, who joined Myers four years ago as CFO and vice-president of real estate and development. He previously worked with Leeder for 18 years with the Senators.
Leeder told Canadian auto dealer the draw to come back to the Senators was the reason he left Myers.
“I had a lot of personal capital and emotional capital invested in the team and I think it was a great opportunity for me to finish my career and come back to a place where I started and how people know me in Ottawa,” said Leeder. “It wasn’t an easy decision to come back to the club. I really enjoyed working in automotive with Harry and Rob, they’ve got a great business there, it was a lot of fun.”
Leeder had no previous experience in the automotive business prior to joining Myers. He had some opportunities to work in the NHL for other teams, but he and his wife decided they wanted to remain in Ottawa. Rather than retire, he identified working in the private sector with a local company that had a large business.
“There’s not a lot of those in Ottawa,” said Leeder. “There’s not 500 companies with 1,000 employees or more. There’s probably only 25. Harry and Rob called me to ask if I would be interested in joining the company because they were looking for a CEO, and it checked all the boxes. I knew nothing about automotive, other than (that) a bunch of the guys that had left the Senators, who had worked for me, were already in automotive and enjoying it.
“The opportunity came out of left field, but from the very day I started, it felt right. It was a great place to work and I really enjoyed it,” he added.
When Leeder joined Myers, which is the biggest automotive group in Ottawa, it had 13 dealerships. It now has 16 dealerships, and a 17th is under construction and will open in March. It also expanded from two collision centres to three.
“I can’t take all that credit,” said Leeder. “There is a team there and Rob and Harry are pretty aggressive guys and have been on an aggressive growth path. I think I was just able to help them with that as they moved forward.”