As a boy growing up in Morden, Manitoba, John Buhler would walk to a nearby farm to admire the rumbling engines and lurching steel of tractors; watching them as their tires chewed muddy paths in the fields. He loved tractors and knew he wanted to build them.
His passion for farm equipment never waned. In 1969 he purchased Morden's Standard Gas Engine Works. He renamed it Farm King Limited. In 1981 he purchased the company's Winnipeg factory. He made a series of other acquisitions and amalgamated the companies to form Buhler Industries in 1994. Years passed and he won awards such as the Manitoba Entrepreneur of the Year award in 1997, but it was not until 2000 that Mr. Buhler sated his boyhood dream of making tractors: he bought the last remaining tractor manufacturing facility in Canada, renaming it Buhler Versatile.
His success in business, achieved not with formal training but with unwavering determination, vision and acumen, has enabled him to give generously to Manitoba communities. Today, he and his wife Bonnie remain passionate philanthropists.
John and Bonnie Buhler have touched many lives through their charitable offerings to numerous organizations. They have given to museums such as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Manitoba Children's Museum. They have supported hospitals and care facilities such as Victoria General Hospital, Seven Oaks Hospital, St. Amant Centre, St. Boniface Hospital and Research Foundation, the Misericordia Hospital Eye Care Centre, and the Health Sciences Centre, which named a research facility after him. They have also given to the Town of Morden, Winnipeg parks, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and schools. In short, John and Bonnie's vision and generosity have nurtured growth, health, and prosperity in Manitoba communities.
In 1998, Mr. Buhler was named Morden's Citizen of the Year and in 2002 he received the Queen's Jubilee Medal for his community service. Five years later, he and Bonnie received the Variety Club Gold Heart Humanitarian of the Year award. In 2010, he was inducted into the Manufacturers Hall of Fame.
As a true visionary, Mr. Buhler has shared his wisdom with many organizations, sitting on the boards of Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada, and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. He has volunteered for groups such as Friends of Upper Fort Garry and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. And he and his wife Bonnie have been deeply involved in the trendsetting Buhler Gallery at St. Boniface Hospital - the only public art gallery in a Canadian Hospital presenting rotating exhibitions by major Canadian artists. With the full support of the Buhlers, the gallery has provided more than 60,000 hospital visitors a place to find inspiration or solace. At age 77, now retired as CEO of Buhler Industries Inc., the indefatigable Mr. Buhler continues to make positive impacts on the community.