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Classic LifeCare: A Family Business, A Personal Odyssey, A Lasting Legacy

By February 28, 2024Moments

Classic LifeCare has been an integral part of John Sherwood’s life since he was seven years old. Founded by his mother, Janet Sherwood, in 1974, the business originally operated from their family home. John fondly recalls his early days as a ‘gopher,’ taking on various tasks like copying, filing, and answering phones.

Throughout the years, John remained a strong presence, always ready to assist his mother in managing the business. One of the most memorable moments from his youth was the experience of an emergency live-in shift during his teenage years. Reflecting on this, John recounts, “My first overnight live-in shift was with an elderly widow who lived in a mansion on SW Marine Drive. I still remember the grandfather clock ticking in the grand hall!”


An Intertwined Personal and Professional Path at Classic LifeCare

When John reflects on his remarkable 31-year journey with Classic LifeCare, he emphasizes the inherent challenge of separating the business from his personal life. Now the owner and CEO of Classic LifeCare, he articulates, “Classic is the story of my life and family – for which I will be forever grateful.”

John graduated from UBC with an Economics degree and briefly worked in insurance. Following in the serial entrepreneurial footsteps of his mother, John pursued a variety of business ventures including a soft drink business, a window washing business & a boat rental business. However, John’s heart was always with Classic. In 1992, Classic’s business was growing rapidly, and Janet needed help. John officially started working full-time at Classic in 1993. In a bid to strike a balance between work and life, he made the pivotal decision to move out of the family home where the Classic office was located.

An integral chapter in John’s Classic journey unfolded with the hiring of Susanne in December 1993. Reflecting on this period, John notes, “Mom hired Susanne to assist with Classic’s expansion. This led to both of us working together, getting married, and raising a family, all while running the business – so, Classic has been a deep and personal journey for both of us.”

Delving into his personal timeline, John speaks of dedicating three decades to Classic LifeCare. “I’ve now been with Classic now for over 30 years. The thing about a period like that is that it spans so many changes and evolutions during what is a humble family business that began in our basement at home. I have experienced changes in healthcare delivery, economic shifts, transformations in workplace culture, expanded competition, and enormous technological change.  This requires a growth mindset and embracing constant change and development – it has been a stimulating and exciting journey”


Forming a Nurturing Community Within Classic LifeCare

Expressing Classic as “compassionate, committed, and helpful,” John fondly appreciates the many close colleagues who have worked with Classic throughout the past three decades – many of whom have become life long friends. Reflecting on the deep connection between his family and the business, he shares, “Our family has been inexorably linked to the business, so I feel like it’s part of me and me a part of it. With so many dedicated and long-term relationships with staff and clients,  Classic’s story is not just about our family – so many have shared this journey or have been touched by Classic.  Classic has evolved from a small business to a long-term community, of which I’m now just a part.”

John’s affection for Classic extends to the personal stories and shared experiences within the supportive company and community. He emphasizes, “It takes so many individual touches to make things work, and delivering such an important service builds a great community with an amazing heritage.”


Sailing Through Challenges: John Sherwood’s Reflections on Growth & Resilience

Acquiring and developing new business has been among John’s favourite projects over the past 30 years. “I love the journey and planting seeds – expanding into new areas and never knowing where the journey will lead. Sailing is a hobby that I enjoy – it is all about charting a course but always reacting to the journey along the way and trying new directions – Classic is like that.  Evolving as people and as a business is my favorite thing.”

Yet, John candidly acknowledges the hurdles that Classic has faced, particularly in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic posed a formidable challenge, testing the business to its core. John reflects, “It was a crisis centered on our industry with very dangerous consequences. We stayed grounded in our heritage, culture and values, and that is what got us through.”

One significant transformation over the past 30 years has been the role of technology in keeping employees at Classic connected. Managing multiple locations, John highlights, “People have the same basic need for connection and mutual support. Technology has enabled us to organize our work, scale and connect differently – but our business is still about building strong personal relationships in our community.”


Vision For Classic LifeCare

Remembering his mother’s strength and determination, John affectionately describes Janet as “a tough taskmaster with a heart of gold. She would do whatever she could to help, and she was personally committed to seeing it through.” Client satisfaction and quality service were always the top priorities for Janet.

When contemplating the future of Classic, John articulates, “A never-ending healthcare journey nourished by growth and curiosity.”

Colleagues applaud John’s leadership, recognizing how he has empowered them to excel. Former Executive Leader, Andrea Warren, acknowledges, “John taking the reins was a big milestone for Classic. He joined as a fresh business graduate eager for growth and expansion. And he had the skills to take Classic to the next level.”