Sharp, J.W. (Bill) (1914–98)

Bill Sharp was born in Texas on August 13, 1914, but his major achievements took place in Saskatchewan through his work to establish a steel tubulars facility and a steel company in Regina, both of which were ultimately very successful.

After obtaining a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Washington, Sharp started working for the Kaiser group of companies in California, where he gained important experience under the tutelage of Henry J. Kaiser. In 1948 he moved to Vancouver, where he took a job working for an independent ready-mix company and developed various ideas about starting a new cement company on the West Coast, which however never came to fruition. In 1955 he went to Regina, where through the new Industrial Development Office of the government of Saskatchewan he obtained a copy of their study on the cement market in the prairie provinces; with their assistance, he put together a group of investors and a plan to build a cement plant.

At the same time, the provincial government had been trying to interest private businesses from both Germany and the United States in building a steel pipe manufacturing plant in Regina to serve a new and growing market for gas distribution systems, particularly in Saskatchewan. Building on his success with the cement plant, Sharp put together a number of investors and a financing package for a new pipe mill, named Prairie Pipe Manufacturing Company Ltd., which ultimately became IPSCO Inc, one of the most successful steel companies in North America today. In the early 1960s, Sharp began to spend less and less time in Regina, and in 1965 Jack Turvey succeeded him as president of IPSCO. While Sharp remained as non-executive chairman of the board, he was less involved in the day-to-day business and eventually retired to Victoria, where he died on June 20, 1998.

John Comrie, Roger Phillips