Jim Treliving: Successful Entrepreneur

No matter what city or province you are in Canada, you are bound to find a Boston Pizza restaurant nearby. Boston Pizza is one of the most well known franchises in Canada, with more than 365 restaurants scattered across Canada.  There are additional Boston Pizza franchises in the United States as well.  The original Boston Pizza, which was named Boston Pizza and Spaghetti House, opened in Edmonton in 1964, and operated as a single little known restaurant.  One of the original Boston Pizza’s most loyal customer’s was Jim Treliving.  At the time, Jim Treliving was a young RCMP police officer from Virden, Manitoba.  Having joined the RCMP in 1960, Jim Treliving had a number of assignments throughout his career as a RCMP policeman, including a stint as an undercover detective in the drug trade.  With Boston Pizza now franchising, Jim Treliving, who had fallen in love with and been a frequent customer of that single Edmonton based Boston Pizza, left his career as a RCMP officer to open his own Boston Pizza Franchise in 1968.

Jim Treliving’s original Boston Pizza franchise would be located in Penticton, British Columbia. For the next 5 years, Jim Treliving would work long hours at his single restaurant, helping establish the Boston Pizza brand.  Throughout Jim Treliving’s time in Penticton, he met George Melville, who at the time was a local accountant in Penticton.  Melville was initially Jim Treliving’s business consultant during Treliving’s early years as a Boston Pizza franchisee.  In 1973, Jim Treliving and George Melville would become business partners, and over the next 10 years, Jim Treliving and George Melville would open 16 more franchises located throughout British Columbia.  After that 10-year span, Jim Treliving and George Melville would make another big move, purchasing Boston Pizza International Inc. and its chain of 44 restaurants from then owner Ron Coyle.  Treliving and Melville would then immediately sell 15 of their 16 individual franchises to other people wishing to own a franchise, while retaining 1 single restaurant, which was converted to a corporate training centre to help maintain the already high standards set by Jim Treliving and George Melville.  In 1986, Vancouver hosted Expo 86, which was a world fair that ran from May until October of 1986.  To this day, Expo 86 is the most recent world fair held in North America.  Boston Pizza would be chosen as the official pizza supplier for Expo 86, helping Jim Treliving and Boston Pizza become known on the world stage, which created great opportunity for growth.  By 1995, Boston Pizza had over 90 locations throughout Western Canada.  As a result of their incredible success in Western Canada, Jim Treliving and George Melville decided it was time to expand the Boston Pizza brand into Eastern Canada.

In 1997, they opened a regional office in Mississauga and Jim Treliving moved to the Toronto area to oversee and manage Boston Pizza’s expansion to Eastern Canada. George Melville would stay at Boston Pizza’s corporate headquarters in Richmond British Columbia and continue to manage Boston Pizza’s operations in Western Canada.  Jim Treliving and George Melville’s vision to make Boston Pizza truly coast to coast across Canada would become a tremendous success over the next decade.  After establishing the Boston Pizza brand in Ontario, Boston Pizza would expand further east.  Nearing the 40th anniversary of Boston Pizza, the success of the Boston Pizza restaurant chain in Ontario warranted further expansion into Eastern Canada.  As such, additional administrative support was required.

Another regional office was opened in Laval, Quebec. Following successful training of a Quebecois management team, the first Boston Pizza franchise opened in Laval in 2005.  Today, there are over 20 Boston Pizza locations throughout the province of Quebec.  The following year in 2006, Boston Pizza became a truly coast-to-coast corporation when they opened locations in both Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island.  While Boston Pizza was making its name across Canada as 1 of the country’s top spots to dine, Jim Treliving’s vision for Boston Pizza kept getting bigger.  Treliving wanted to expand the Boston Pizza brand into other countries.  “I realized then that with the people we had, and what we had going on [in Ontario, Quebec and the States] we had to take a whole new look at how to expand”, Treliving told the Globe and Mail in a 2006 interview.  Treliving further stated that because he felt out of touch with the communities where he was opening new restaurants.  As a result, Jim Treliving moved to Dallas, Texas in 2000 to oversee Boston Pizza’s American chain, Boston’s The Gourmet Pizza.  “We added more sales persons.  It was a matter of finding out when you got there”, Treliving said to The Globe and Mail.  “A lot of Canadian companies expand down to the U.S. and are not successful, and the reason probably is that they don’t send one of their chief executives, or people who have been in business for a long time.  They sort of hire people down there, then you have to keep showing them the culture that you want.”  There are now over 50 Boston’s Gourmet Pizza locations throughout the United States as well as 1 location in Mexico.  As a result of Jim Treliving’s hard work and dedication to developing Boston Pizza, it is now the number 1 casual dining restaurant in Canada.

boston_pizza2Today, there are over 325 locations throughout Canada. In addition to multiple locations in most major cities across Canada, there are Boston Pizza franchises present  in several small towns across Canada, which shows Boston Pizza survives and thrives as 1 of Canada’s most well known brands.  In addition to Boston Pizza, Jim Treliving has also explored several other ventures.  Along with George Melville, Jim Treliving co-owns T&M Group of Companies, which is an investment portfolio that owns several companies.  The acquisitions they have made through T&M is extensive.  These include Dermal Laser Centre, which specializes in skin care treatment, real estate agency White Rock Commercial, food manufacturer Kitchen Partners Limited, the luxurious Stonebrook Benchland Developments in British Columbia and the oil change specialist magnet Mr. Lube  Jim Treliving has also always had a love for 1 of Canada’s favorite past times, hockey.  Jim Treliving was instrumental in the founding of the former Western Professional Hockey League in 1996.  Operating at the minor professional level, the WPHL had franchises in 19 cities throughout the southern United States throughout the league’s existence from 1996 to 2001.  In 2001 the WPHL was bought out by and merged with the Central Hockey League. The Central Hockey League was owned by Global Entertainment Corporation, with whom Jim Treliving sits on the organization’s Board of Directors.  A total of 10 existing WPHL franchises were included into the CHL.  Until the end of the CHL in 2014, the league established itself as a high level of minor league hockey, with several of its teams having affiliations with NHL teams.

Since 2006, Jim Treliving has been a continuous cast member of Dragons’ Den, a television reality show on CBC. Dragons’ Den’s, hosted by Dianne Buckner, object is for entrepreneurs to pitch business ideas hoping that the shows “Dragons”, investors such as Jim Treliving, would buy into the entrepreneurs ideas.  Jim Treliving is currently the only original Dragon still on the Dragons’ Den cast.  Throughout his career, Jim Treliving has won various awards.  These include Pacific Canada Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Hospitality and Tourism, the British Columbia American Marketing Association’s Marketer of the Year, and the Irvin, Texas [Canadian-American Chamber of Commerce, DFW] Life Time Achievement Award.  Jim Treliving currently resides in Dallas with his wife Sandi, and his 2 stepchildren Daniel and Katie.  Jim has also raised 2 children from a previous marriage.  Daughter Cheryl is a Boston Pizza franchisee and Executive Director of the Boston Pizza Foundation. His son, Brad, worked closely with him in founding the WPHL and the league’s merger with the CHL. Brad is currently the General Manager of the NHL’s Calgary Flames.  Jim and Sandi also have 4 grandchildren.

Written By: Chris Cunneen