GEARING UP | Roger Hardy, CEO of Shoes.com, gets ready for a squash match at West Vancouver's Hollyburn Country Club
E-commerce giant Roger Hardy on running circles and talking business on the squash court
I started playing squash right around 2000, when my daughter was born. I went from having all this time to having no time, and that’s the beauty of squash—you get a great workout in 45 minutes. I would put my kids to bed and then I could go to Jericho and play squash at 8 and be home in an hour.
One of my business partners, Jeff Mason, was a top-ranked squash player and I started playing more with him. We would mix squash with business. He was of course the CFO at Hunter Dickinson and joined the board at Coastal and now he’s on the board at Shoes.com. He would run me around in circles. It always takes one person that’s better than you, in squash, to get you hooked.
Then I joined the Vancouver league and I think I started out in Division 9 but I was playing so much with Jeff and getting better. Over about five or six years I made the jump to the first division and then I was playing with some competitive people and losing more than I was winning, for sure, but I was there and still getting run around in circles.
Now we sponsor the Premier Squash League. It’s the top 50 players in the province, and we play every Wednesday. All those players wear our logos, Shoes.com, when they play so we get quite a bit of exposure from it in all the clubs in Vancouver. Squash is always battling for sponsor dollars, so you get a lot of value there.
There are six teams of two, and it’s a point system throughout the year. Then there’s the playoffs: last year the two teams playing in the final had to all bring their passports, and the winning teams actually flew to Vegas for dinner. It was pretty fun. Our team didn’t win, but I was the host. Someone had to do it.
Venture capitalist Roger Hardy is CEO of Shoes.com Technologies, the digital footwear empire that includes Shoeme.ca. In 1999 he started Clearly Contacts, which he sold to Paris-based Essilor in February 2014 for $435 million.