“At Upper Canada Mall I was able to take my professional life and apply it in good ways to the benefit of the community.”
Robert Horst was introduced to the idea service at a tender age. His grandfather, a minister at a Mennonite church in Toronto, always helped those in need. Robert was involved with charitable activities along with his family.
“The example of helping those in need and being a generous, genuine person was observed through my grandfather and there is no question, I absorbed much of that. My parents were also examples, my dad is always there to help.”
Robert, born in the City of Toronto. After graduating from Ryerson University he taught English and travelled around Asia. Upon his return, he was employed by Oxford Properties as Research Analyst. He was Assistant Manager at Yorkdale Shopping Centre until he became Upper Canada Mall’s General Manager in July, 2010. Robert heard about the Belinda’s Place Foundation, and determined to support it. Robert and his team hosted a charitable event and celebration of hope that would not only showcase their fashions, but use the Mall’s space for a good cause. They invented the event, it did not have a tradition in Newmarket, but they decided to give it a try. In the first year they raised $50,000 and the next two years an additional $50,000 was raised. Through ticket sales and advertising for the Hope In Purple Heels event, Robert’s intention was to also raise awareness for the cause. What was unique about the event was the fact that the Mall ran and funded the entire event with 100 % of the ticket sale dollars going to the Belinda’s Place Foundation.
Part of Robert’s giving back was to create an environment and a culture at the Mall that improved the everyday life of employees. He took an active approach in making sure that everyone felt like they were coming to work in a Mall that had purpose in the community and to improve the lives of community members. Easter Seals 10k is York Region’s 36yearold fundraising event. Employees at the Mall may wear jeans on a Friday and contribute a toonie towards the Easter Seals Run. The Mall’s Gorgeous Program rewards staff for doing good things for customers or peers.They can provide ideas to give back to the community and are rewarded for that.
“I know that when you create purpose for your staff and create an environment where it’s more than just a job, then your staff come to work with a smile, and are willing to help and give back and make the customer experience so much better.”
Robert was on the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, was inspired by the way the leaders of York Region gave back and wanted to do more than he would have on his own.
“It was beneficial to the shopping centre, but it was also beneficial to my growth as a person, as a manager and I will carry that philosophy forward with any shopping centre I run. You have to give time and find ways, either through work, or not, to give back to your community and make the world a better place.”
Upper Canada Mall hosted the Southlake Festival of Trees to benefit Southlake Regional Health Centre. Shoppers were photographed with decorated trees which generated awareness and funds for the Hospital. Robert sits on the Southlake Partners in Health Golf Tournament Committee and was happy to participate and give back to make the Tournament better.
“The Mall is part of the life blood of the community. It is part of people’s everyday life and I believe that role of General Manager offers an opportunity to get engaged in the community and make it a better place to live. That ultimately provides some value to the shopping centre, but at the same time, Newmarket is a vibrant community where people give back and get involved and I was drawn right into that, and empowered by that.”
The Mall’s standing as community partner, not just a place of commerce, was elevated which while Robert was there. Robert was promoted to Scarborough Town Centre in January, 2014. He found himself in a culture in Newmarket where he was inspired and hopes to reconnect with like minded people in Scarborough.