Peter E. Gilgan is the CEO and Chairman of Mattamy Asset Management Incorporated, a firm he founded in 2018 for building and managing a diverse portfolio across a large spectrum of geography, classes, and various risks of return. This company is the parent company of Mattamy Homes, the largest private homebuilder in North America which Gilgan founded in 1978. Gilgan’s work in engineering developments has given 8000 families new homes every year.
Gilgan was born in Burlington, Ontario in 1951 and raised with six siblings in a middle-class, community-minded neighborhood. His father Ed Gilgan provided for the family as an electrician while his mother Mary raised the family. After graduating high school, Gilgan chose to train as a chartered accountant instead of attending university.
Soon after receiving the appropriate certification, he moved on to work for Hilborn and Ellis Grant (now Hillborn Ellis Grant LLP), a bookkeeping company in Toronto that provided full services from payroll to taxes since 1930. At Ellis, Gilgan described enjoying visiting clients to learn about the inner workings of their management and how businesses were handled internally.
However, he was pulled away from the typical educational role by the prospect of building houses. The companies that interested him the most were those working on private infrastructure, and so with little practical experience but a focused motivation, he bought two pieces of land in his hometown of Burlington and helped with the construction of two unique houses that were later sold at a 10% premium.
The success of this venture led to the scaling up of his operations and the eventual founding of Oakville Ontario-based Mattamy Homes Ltd. in 1978, a name derived from the oldest two names of his 8 children – Matt and Amy. And much like the name of the company, Gilgan sought to inject creativity into his projects. Contemporary construction appeared “bland” in Gilgan’s eyes, so as the new President and CEO of Mattamy Homes, he began to construct homes with an individualistic and creative focus “planned according to human needs, not lot sizes.” Gilgan focused on ergonomically superior design and is famed for the popularisation of his unique “WideLot” design, which gave his houses a greater view of the street.
Gilgan faced issues in the early stages of operation. The mortgage rate increased in 1981, which decimated his middle-class market and forced him to reassess how homes were constructed to cut costs where applicable. His research allowed him to cut prices by 30%, and by 1983, his business had begun to pick up again. By the 1980s, Gilgan had more than 1000 in construction, administration and management.
Another toll was taken on the company in the 1990s however, with another hit to the real estate market that required revaluation once again on land and work efficiency. Gilgan researched real estate in other similar city locations like Los Angeles and took their strategy of building on wider and shorter lots to limit expenses. This research proved successful and by 1997, Gilgan had successfully re-energized production. Furthering his success was his introduction of factory house building, which used the efficiency of supply chain production in General Motors Cars in combination with his knowledge of house building. While costs were higher building houses piece by piece indoors, they enabled production regardless of weather (eliminating several possible human resource issues) and saw overall savings and speed.
In 2007 he went on to found a subsidiary of Mattamy homes dubbed Stelumar Manufacturing. Like Mattamy Homes, Stelumar is a division whose name is derived from a combination of his children, this one being named after his third, fourth, and fifth child, Stephanie, Luke and Markus. This subsidiary of Mattamy proved to be vital in the creation of a more optimized assembly line that could be disassembled and assembled at will. The ability to bring the factory itself closer to the building site minimized the cost of housing transportation, but more importantly cut the time it took to make a house by a total of 86% (86 days to 11 days).
Through constant research and reassessment in times of crisis and aggressive land sales, Gilgan developed a construction company with adaptability previously unseen in the market. Mattamy Homes evolved with the market and its people, and because of this, Mattamy is now considered the largest private homebuilder in North America. Since Gilgan’s founding of Mattamy homes in 1978, he has constructed more than 100000 uniquely developed properties in 76 Toronto-area communities.
In his career, Gilgan has also made it the main focus to make philanthropic contributions to multiple different charities and organizations, including the founding of his foundation. His philanthropy extends back to 2006 when the Peter Gilgan Foundation was founded. In 2011, he donated $15 million to Ryerson University for the construction of the Mattamy Athletic Centre. In 2013, Gilgan also donated $40 million to the Hospital for Sick Children Center for Research andLearning, and in 2015 donated $5 million to the Parks Foundation of Calgary for the development of accessible pathways around the city. Gilgan’s most notable donations include $100 million to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto in 2019, which made him the largest health care benefactor at the time, as well as $105 million to Trillium Health Partners in 2022, which was the largest donation ever given to a hospital in Canada.
Gilgan has also sponsored a home-building management program with Toronto’s George Brown College with the intent of improving professionalism in the industry and upgrading the skills of the craft. He has also chaired a campaign to build a new YMCA in Oakville and co-chaired a campaign for Sheridan College.
In 2018, Gilgan founded Mattamy Asset Management Inc., a firm dedicated to holding an investment portfolio of businesses of various types. He currently sits as CEO and Chairman.
According to Forbes, Peter Gilgan is worth $2.3 billion.
Gilgan has achieved numerous awards for his outstanding business practices and continued major philanthropic contributions. Gilgan achieved the title of Canada’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007, was elected a Fellow (FCA) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario in 2009 and was awarded the Outstanding Business Leader of the Year award from Laurier’s School of Business and Economics in 2010. He was also inducted as a Companion in the Canadian Business Hall of fame in 2013 and inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions to sport, recreation and philanthropy. Gilgan was also named an officer of the Order of Canada in 2013, a position considered to be one of the country’s highest civilian honours, as well as honoured with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of outstanding achievement and public service.
His most recent accomplishment was being named by the Ivey Business school as its 2019 Leader of the Year.