As all great leaders seem to do, young Luke started his company in his basement. Despite building a successful career in marketing and advertising, his entrepreneurial spirit yearned for more. Luke wanted to create a company based on the simple premise of helping others succeed. So, from a solo act in 1986 to a yin and yang duo with the partnership of his friend Charlie Wilton in 1991, Sklar Wilton & Associates was born.
Over time, Luke was proud to grow the business to five partners who shared his values. He shared the helm equally with Charlie Wilton, Jennifer Marley, Sarah Liverance, and Manoj Raheja, and created a partnership unique in the business world, one where all points of view were heard, all ideas listened to, and consensus always reached.
More than 30 years and just under 40 people later, Luke’s vision led to a client list that has showcased many of Canada’s most iconic brands including Canadian Tire, Canada Bread, CARA Foods, Coca Cola, Dare Foods, Eaton’s, Esso, Four Seasons, Golf Town, Heinz, Hudson’s Bay Company, Indigo, M&M Food Markets, Marks, Mars, Minute Maid, Molson Coors, Rogers, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sport Chek, Sobeys, Subway, The Globe and Mail, WestJet, and more. Over the years, Luke passionately enabled his colleagues and clients to uncover insights and develop strategies that have grown their businesses via award winning product launches, creative executions, new store designs, portfolio strategies, acquisitions, and more.
But Luke’s bigger legacy was in doing things the right way. He attracted a group of amazingly talented people who worked together to create a great place to work for every associate, a place where they could learn, grow, and have fun. He took it upon himself to personally mentor and coach his colleagues and the marketing and business people he worked with. His brilliance and buoyant personality affected so many people in a positive way. He became our Luke Sklarwalker, and we ingrained his shrewd words of wisdom in our everyday conversations.
“You are the company that you keep.”
“Anyone who must live with the consequences of the research must be part of the process.”
“Yes….but do you get WHY though?”
In 2015, the American Marketing Association (AMA) recognized Luke’s enduring contributions to the marketing community by inducting him into their Marketing Hall of Legends. Luke was honoured in the Enabler category for his proven, long-term record of selflessly holding up his clients as heroes, rather than himself.
As a person, Luke cared deeply about everyone on the Sklar Wilton team. He would arrive at the crack of dawn to prepare for the day, ready to energize every associate with his famous, “Are you PUMPED” encouragement. He worked tirelessly to encourage, motivate, inspire, and support everyone to do their very best work. His colleagues, clients, and even people who only knew him in passing can attest to this.
“Luke was foundational in my professional development and taught me my best values as a business person.”
“Luke was a provider of energy, not a taker. There are few people like that in this world and even fewer in business.”
“Luke has been my personal cheerleader and mentor. He truly measures his success by how well I do. It means so much to know I have someone in the trenches with me who’s as invested in me as they are in the work.”
“I always felt Luke cared more about the person than the business. He made me feel important and valued as a leader and as a person.”
Luke also shared his unbounded energy and talent with the broader community. Inspired by one of his business partners who beat Leukemia, Luke was a regular and keen participant in the Light the Night fundraising walk held by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Canada. In fact, he often recruited his family to join in as fellow walkers. Luke was also eager to offer his marketing leadership skills to Holy Blossom Temple, and he supported the Ivey Business School through alumni magazine contributions and presentations to marketing students.
Being a part of Luke’s life was sometimes like being in a TV show. He was loved for his heartfelt mentoring and personal coaching as well as his outrageous and scandalous hilarity. His exuberance and propensity towards excitedly running around the room with arms flailing led to spilled drinks, broken glasses, big smiles and giant laughs. Each day with Luke was a fun and exciting adventure.
Luke’s ability to lead the Sklar Wilton team to success depended on the solid foundation built and sustained by his wife and three daughters. They brought joy and steadfastness to Luke, and he delighted in sharing their accomplishments with his friends and colleagues. He loved to bring his family to Sklar Wilton events where everyone he loved truly became one incredible family.
Sadly, after 3 years of fighting, Luke lost his battle with severe depression in May 2018. Depression may have robbed him of his zest, his passion, and his unconventional humour, but it didn’t affect his deeply held values or the essence of who he really was. He truly cared about his family, his friends, his colleagues, and his clients. Luke was a brave soul who knew that being open about his fight with depression would help other people.
Luke may be gone but our memories remain and his legacy will continue. Let’s remember the intense passion, charisma, and wisdom that Luke shared with all of us.