Stu Lang wanted to put his dad’s name on U of G’s business school. But how to square that name recognition with Gordon Lang’s lifelong business ethos grounded in humility?
Gordon Lang ran CCL (Conn Chem Ltd.) based in Toronto, the company begun originally as Lang Lamps by Stu’s grandfather, also named Stuart. Today the multibillion-dollar company is the world’s largest label maker, employing more than 20,000 people in 40 countries and making products from iPhone glass screens to most of the polymer currency in circulation today.
CCL was formed in 1951, the year Stu was born, the eldest of four siblings. It was Gordon who steered Stu into chemical engineering studies at Queen’s University, where he won a Yates Cup as a wide receiver with the varsity football team and where he played varsity hockey. He ultimately joined the family business in 1982 – but not before playing professional football for eight years with the Edmonton Eskimos, including winning five Grey Cup championships.
Stu retired from CCL in 2005. His connection to the University of Guelph began in 2009 when he volunteered as a receiver’s coach. Named as head coach the following year, he spent six years with the Gryphons, compiling the best winning percentage in team history and claiming the Yates Cup in 2015. He is now a team adviser.
Lang and his wife, Kim, have made major donations to Queen’s University and Upper Canada College, which is also Stu’s alma mater. The new business school gift at the University of Guelph follows more than $50-million worth of donations to U of G, including funding for a sports pavilion opened in 2017, humanitarian scholarships and facilities support in the Ontario Veterinary College, where Kim serves on the Pet Trust board of directors.
Lang first connected with Julia Christensen Hughes, dean of U of G’s College of Business and Economics, when he asked her to evaluate his football team’s coach and player meetings. He says he’s a fan of the business school’s vision as a force for good and its focus on sustainability. Referring to grads, he says, “What’s important is not how much money they make but what they accomplish. Did they make the world a better place to live? Hopefully we’re creating business leaders who can make tough decisions because they’re the right decisions.”
Lang says the business school’s strong sense of selfless work, leadership development, entrepreneurial spirit and community involvement would have resonated with his dad. “I think he would feel embarrassed,” says Lang of the school’s new marquee, “but he would still have patted me on the back and said, ‘Well done, son.’”