People on the Move: Jason Tasse appointed president of Lee Valley Tools

Former professional lacrosse player is 'blessed and fortunate' to work with Lee family over past 25 years

Editor's Note

Placeholder logoPeople on the Move is supported by Boyden, connecting great leaders with great companies in Ottawa, across Canada and worldwide.


At the tender age of 22, Jason Tasse had been working outside at a lumber yard to pay for his undergraduate degree at Carleton University when he learned Lee Valley Tools was looking for seasonal employees to help with its Christmas holiday rush.

With winter coming, he liked the idea of holding down an indoor job and had heard good things about the Ottawa-based, family-owned Canadian business, which sells hardware, woodworking, gardening and kitchen tools.

“If you really worked hard, they’d keep you full-time,” said Tasse, who first got hired for a warehouse job. “My objective was to stay warm, work hard and keep the job.”

OBJ360 (Sponsored)

The company not only kept him but steadily promoted the young man to such positions as director, manager, vice-president of operations, chief operating officer and, very recently, president. He still retains his role as chief operating officer.

Born and raised in Ottawa, Tasse has been part of the business for 25 years, first working under founder Leonard Lee and now his son, Robin Lee, CEO of Lee Valley Tools and chairman of Lee Valley Group of Companies. 

There exists a mutual respect and loyalty between Tasse and the Lee family.

“By my defined generation, I should have changed jobs at least a half a dozen times by now but I’ve been blessed and fortunate to be supported by such amazing people through two generations,” said the 47-year-old executive and married father of two boys, ages 19 and 17.

Even during Tasse’s early days as a warehouse employee, Leonard – who grew up on a farm in small-town Saskatchewan – would chat with him at the end of their long workday, when they were often the only two still there.

“He really appreciated hard work and I’m a believer that you have to work hard for what you want to achieve,” Tasse said.

Lee Valley was very accommodating when Tasse had the chance to play professional lacrosse for his hometown team, the former Ottawa Rebel, 20 years ago. His sports career was only a couple of years long, but it remains a highlight of his life.

“It was an athlete’s dream to play pro in front of your home and Lee Valley was extremely supportive of that,” said Tasse, who still plays and coaches lacrosse.

While at Lee Valley, Tasse has earned himself a logistics certificate in supply chain management from Georgia Tech and an MBA from Queen’s University. He’s also a new member of the Ottawa Board of Trade’s CEO Council.

His accomplishments at Lee Valley include leading key systems implementations, long-term strategic planning, digital transformation and brand marketing direction, and site selection and design of the 150,000-square-foot distribution centre on Carp Road. 

As well, Tasse played a key role in the company’s leadership succession management. A wave of long-time store managers retired and left big shoes to fill.

“Nobody has a bigger impact on the culture of a company than its leadership team,” said Tasse. “We were essentially turning over an entire team.”

Tasse acknowledged that the coronavirus crisis has created challenges, such as causing temporary closures of its 20 stores, staff readjustments and general uncertainty. 

Fortunately, the company launched, just months prior to the start of the pandemic, its new website, which has helped to significantly boost online sales. Traditionally, Lee Valley has been known as a successful catalogue company.

“As the world migrated toward digital, Lee Valley acknowledged that we not only had to preserve the customers we have but we had to reposition the brand to the customers we want, and we knew the path forward was digital,” Tasse said.

The appeal of hobbies and home projects during the pandemic has been good for business, said Tasse, an aspiring woodworker who’s just completed a homemade floating wine bottle holder. When asked how it turned out, he responded modestly: “It’s all about the doing, it’s all about the doing.”

Featured placements from Boyden

Jim Nerschook has joined thinkRF as chief commercial officer and vice-president of sales and marketing. Nerschook is an accomplished wireless industry veteran with strong expertise in the wireless and wireline test and measurement and monitoring market. He has been on the board of thinkRF for more than four years and previously held executive positions at Viavi Solutions and PAR Technology.

Boyden box ad

Kevin Desjardins has been named president of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB). Desjardins previously worked with the CAB from 2005-07 in communications, member services, and public affairs roles. For the last eight years, he has been the director of public affairs for the Canadian Dental Association. He has also worked with the Tourism Industry Association of Canada and Canadian Conference of the Arts.

Kirsten Ross has joined MacEwen Petroleum as director of marketing. Ross previously worked in a variety of progressive leadership roles at Costco, including marketing, communications, operations and technology. Outside of the office, she brings real-world retail experience to the classroom through her work teaching and designing courses at Algonquin College.

Ronald Richardson has been appointed to the board of directors at Calian Group. Richardson currently serves on the board of Tundra Oil & Gas, is chair of Brokrete and is the chair of the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation. Active in Ottawa’s tech community for many years, he was a co-founder of Benbria.

People on the move across Ottawa

Margot Sunter has been appointed by GGFL LLP as its first chief innovation officer. Sunter, who has been with the tax planning and accounting firm for seven years, is currently chief operating officer, a role she will keep, along with her expanding duties. 

Former Forty Under 40 recipient Denise Siele has joined the National Gallery of Canada as its new senior communications manager. Siele was formerly a long-time partner at Hill Solutions. She also did a stint last year as press secretary for the Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition.

Indigenous innovator and business executive Wanda Brascoupé has joined Maple Leaf Strategies as a strategic advisor. Brascoupé is a founding board member of Reconciliation Canada and a current leader with the Indigenous Peoples Resilience Fund (IPRF).

Former Forty Under 40 recipient Katy McFee is the new executive vice-president of sales for software company Evidence Partners. McFee is the former vice-president of sales at Fullscript and was previously head of the medical division/director of sales for Spartan Bioscience. She holds the position of past board chair of Women Powering Technology (WPT) Ottawa.

Mark McKenzie has been named the new CEO of Kivuto Solutions. McKenzie is a seasoned information technology executive with extensive experience guiding software and technology companies across the spectrum, from early-stage private companies to large-scale public organizations. He has decades’ worth of experience scaling up companies in Silicon Valley and Asia.

…and beyond

Ottawa’s Grant McDonald is off to sunnier destinations. He’s taking on a new role, effective February 2021, as managing partner and head of tax for KPMG Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, which includes practices in Antigua, St. Lucia and St. Vincent. In addition to packing up for his move to Barbados, McDonald has fully transitioned the Government of Canada account and will be transitioning his Canadian Aerospace and Defence role while retaining the Global industry role. McDonald joined KPMG Canada 38 years ago and has held numerous leadership positions, including partner, office managing partner and regional managing partner. 

Ottawa native Jason Bailey has been proving there is life after hockey. Since retiring from his pro hockey career nearly a decade ago, Bailey has been quickly rising to the top with global real estate firm Colliers International. Bailey was recently promoted to associate vice president at the firm’s Toronto West office. He began his commercial real estate career in Ottawa in late 2013 as a sales representative. Friend and former mentor Warren Wilkinson, managing director of Colliers’ Ottawa office, said Bailey has been an “exceptional” brand ambassador. “He’s great, culturally, when it comes to helping and promoting and assisting the activities and the success of others in the office. Not only did Ottawa lose a rising star and Toronto gained him, but what Toronto gained was such an incredible cultural leader,” said Wilkinson. Bailey focuses on Toronto’s industrial market, arguably the most competitive commercial real estate market in Canada.

People on the Move is a monthly feature highlighting Ottawa-based professionals, managers and executives starting new positions. Want to see your appointment featured? Share your news with

People on the Move is supported by Boyden, connecting great leaders with great companies in Ottawa, across Canada and worldwide. Explore executive insights, human capital trends and talent solutions here.

Get our email newsletters

Get up-to-date news about the companies, people and issues that impact businesses in Ottawa and beyond.

By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.