Edward Lee loves his job as owner and coach of Sunridge Badminton Centre, but leaving his family in Vancouver is the price he’s had to pay in order to run his own business.

“We only see each other three times a year. Just works out to about three months a year,” Lee said.

Originally from Malaysia, Lee moved to Toronto where he got his degree in marketing from Humber College. He later moved to Vancouver with his family.

“I told myself, ‘No matter what, I want to get myself involved in business.’ So, to achieve my goal, I said ‘I need to work first, save up enough money and then open up a business.’”

In 2011, Lee and a close friend of his, Richard Ong, shared a mutual passion and dream.

They decided to open Sunridge Badminton Centre together the same year. It would be the first badminton facility in Calgary.

Lee ran operations from Vancouver while Ong managed Sunridge Badminton in Calgary.

But this partnership and friendship was short-lived.

According to Kim Loo, a personal friend and loyal customer at the centre, Lee had reached out to her after conflicts between the two broke out in 2013.

“Honestly, I wanted to see evidence. Because Richard was my friend and Edward was my friend too. I couldn’t just believe Edward, or believe Richard,” she said.

Lee left his family in Vancouver in October of 2013 to move to Calgary and salvage what was left of Sunridge Badminton.

Lee says he exhausted every possible fund he had access to. He took money out of his children’s university fund and he’s lived in his office the past few years to support the company’s finances.

Despite the difficulties, Lee was adamant in rebuilding the lost trust and reputation of the centre. He wanted to show his children that their father wasn’t a quitter.

“I want to be able to lead them through example – make sure that whatever they do, they’ll look up to me.”

Three years later, Lee said the business practically pays for itself now and is finally the enterprise he wanted it to be.

Edward Lee with star student, Nathan Appave demonstrating the proper lunge. Photo by Sam Nar.

Sunridge Badminton’s recovery allowed Lee to hire more employees, including his 25-year-old nephew, Alvin Chia.

With the help of the workers, Lee is finally able to find some time off.

“Ever since I started working here, he dedicates a lot of his time towards his kids and lets me handle the business,” Chia said.

“He’s not the type of guy that would put his work before his kids because he wants to see them grow up … I’d say he’s more like a father figure than a businessman,” Chia said.

Now that the business has officially stabilized, Lee plans to sell the company in the upcoming years and return to Vancouver.

He looks forward to reuniting with his family and kicking back again in his life.

“I’m very optimistic about the future,” he said.

snar@cjournal.ca 

The editor responsible for this article is Nina Grossman and can be reached at ngrossman@cjournal.ca