Maxxam Insurance owners lead Island Capitals Sports & Entertainment Purchase of Duncan Junior Hockey Team
By Mark MacDonald
Maxxam Insurance partners John Dewar and Bill Rai head the Island Capitals Sports & Entertainment (ICSE) group that closed a deal September 22 to buy the junior hockey club from former owner Ray Zhang.
“We’re doing this for the benefit of the kids, in helping them get them to the next level, and for the and community. If we can break even, we’ll be happy,” Dewar says. “For us right now this is a community contribution. We’d love to say it could be profitable in the future.”
Dewar was born in the United Kingdom where his father, who worked with computer game magnate EA Sports on their NHL products and owned the professional Swindon Ice Lords, introduced his son to the game.
Maxxam Insurance began 12 years and has expanded three times in the past four years, and now has location in Nanaimo at 201-2700 Norwell Drive, Victoria, Burnaby, Penticton and Kelowna. Dewar, who lives in Chemainus, also owns a niche underwriting insurance company that insures special products direct to clients as a Lloyd’s of London coverholder.
“Being a Cowichan Valley resident myself, I am extremely excited to get the community and local businesses to come support our team and bring an increased sense of pride to such a great local sports organization,” he states. “As a local ownership group, we are proud to be a part of this community and are strong believers in producing a successful franchise for years to come.”
The ICSE ownership group includes plenty of hockey background.
Besides Dewar, a BCHL alumnus who played for the Trail Smoke Eaters, Penticton Vees and Williams Lake TimberWolves from 2004-2007, ICSE investors include Port McNeill native Clayton Stoner, who played 360 games in the National Hockey League for the Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks.
“Having grown up and played minor and junior hockey on the Island, I am very excited to put my passion for the game into the Cowichan Valley Capitals and the community,” says Stoner. “We have a competitive group of owners that are committed to improving and bringing growth to the Capitals organization.”
Dewar saw a link between the insurance and hockey businesses years ago through Neil Jamieson, the former owner of the Vees and Underwriters Insurance.
“That became my connection with insurance and hockey, and my interest led from there,” he recalls. “That’s what I like the hockey community. It’s such a small world. With Maxxam in the insurance business, there’s a lot of connections we can make through it.”
The Dewar family billeted some Capitals players last season, and recognized the opportunity offered room for growth as the team was drawing as few as 300 fans to some games.
“I said to my wife one day, ‘We need to do something here. The boys are here for a reason’,” he notes. “They want to get to the next level and the Capitals are a big part of the community. If there are games on a Friday or Saturday night, we want to make it so people think ‘what else is there to do except go to a Caps game?’”
Dewar is excited about the prospects facing the BCHL, which opted out of Hockey Canada this season.
“The BCHL is tough with travel and trying to recruit players,” he observes. “It’s the opposite model to the Western Hockey League, as we’re trying to get our players to the NCAA and possibly pro from there. It can be grueling and expensive.
“However, long-term, I believe the BCHL can become more profitable. With the league coming out of Hockey Canada, we think we can put a greater product on the ice. We can recruit more players, and we’re allowed to have two Europeans per team now.”
The road forward will include the work ethic Dewar has gleaned from his own hockey experience, which has helped drive success at Maxxam Insurance.
“I think the biggest thing is hard work,” he notes. “Between myself and my partners we work as hard as we can. We try not to worry about what other people are doing, but focus on our goals and our targets. We feel we’ve put out a great product that has given us an opportunity to expand.”