Maybe the Gaglardi family was destined to find success in Texas.
Northland Properties founder Bob Gaglardi decided to leave British Columbia to attend college in Longview at LeTourneau College back in the late '50s, and now his son, Tom, president of Northland Properties, is rediscovering the state as owner of the Stars.
It's been a happy reunion for all involved. Tom's mom, Karen, is from Longview and he has relatives in Burleson and Fort Worth, so now the marriage of professional sports teams and expanded business presence makes the Vancouver-based Gaglardi's very much a part of the Lone Star State.
[WATCH: Stars owner Tom Gaglardi reflects on Stars' 2019-20 season, playoff run]
"It's been really good for our family," Tom Gaglardi said. "And it's been really good for our business."
After purchasing the Stars in 2011, Gaglardi started to focus on making the team and the hockey business better. Along the way, he has expanded his opportunities outside the realm of just the Stars and now has significant business investments throughout the Dallas and Austin areas. In addition to Sandman Signature hotels, and several restaurants, Gaglardi now is an investor in Vancouver-based Intracorp's 49-story condominium project at 44 East Ave in Austin.
It's a significant impact for the family that also owns the Texas Stars and a large real-estate development in Cedar Park, just north of Austin.
"It's great, it's exciting," said Tom Gaglardi. "We have five hotel projects now at various stages of planning and development. Texas is one of the world's great economies and it's gotten better and better. We're long-term people and we believe in Texas."
Northland Properties is one of the largest hotel and restaurant companies in Canada and has expanded greatly from the business Bob Gaglardi started in 1963. Now, it is helping lead other Canadian companies to Texas, as well. Intracorp has done business with Northwest Properties for years and said getting a project of this magnitude in Austin was helped by the Gaglardi's knowledge of the market.
"First and foremost, Tom and the Gaglardi family, we've known them for a long time and we know their reputation," said Don Forsgren, president and CEO of Intracorp Projects, Ltd. "They are fantastic people, they're fantastic people to do business with, and they have very high standards. If they're involved, it's going to be high quality."
Combine that with the fertile business community in Texas, and the decision was easy.
"When we looked at various possible markets in the U.S., a lot of it comes down to what the future job growth is and also what the population growth looks like," Forsgren said. "One of the things that stands out in Austin and Dallas is that there are a lot of younger people setting up their lives in those Texas cities and there is a lot of potential for growth."
The Austin project is scheduled to have 322 residences. Gaglardi is also in the process of renovating the historic Waggoner building in downtown Fort Worth. Add that to Sandman Signature hotels, and the footprint for Northland Properties in Texas continues to grow.
Stars CEO Jim Lites has been spending more time helping Gaglardi with his businesses outside of hockey since Brad Alberts was named team president, and Lites said the marriage between sports and business makes a lot of sense.
"When I first met Tom and we talked about the Stars, I said, 'You're in a great business to take advantage of your ownership of a sports team. You have partners, vendors, advertisers who make money with you as you grow your business,' " Lites said of their meeting back in 2011. "He's in the hospitality business with restaurants and hotels, and that's a lot of what you need in sports business, in entertainment."
Lites said the Gaglardi touch in the hotel industry also is helping build the Stars brand. Tom Gaglardi has helped create a high-end level for Northland Properties, and that philosophy has been used in refurbishing the team's Children's Health StarCenters. All of the suburban rinks have been upgraded, and the entire organization feels like it's shining right now.
"When I'm out with Tom, he'll take his phone out and take pictures of light fixtures or mirrors or paintings or menus. He just is always thinking about things like that," Lites said. "Tom has a great eye, and I think that carries over to us. I think if you look at what we have done to the StarCenters, you see that there."
Lites has always been a proponent of sports and business working together, and said he believes the Stars are perfectly positioned. Lites worked with the Red Wings in downtown Detroit, with the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale and with the New York Giants in New Jersey, and said the ability to use sports venues to create positive business for a city has been proven time and time again.
"It was true in Detroit, it was true in Arizona, it was true in New York, and it's certainly true here," Lites said. "These facilities and events and surroundings create positive energy for the cities."
The Gaglardis own 42 acres around the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, and are in the process of developing that land. And the guess is more land purchases could be coming in the future.
"The team brought me there and allowed me to focus on Texas," Tom Gaglardi said. "We knew sooner or later we needed to leave Canada, and now Texas is our U.S. beachhead. I think within five years, half of our projects might be in Texas, which is amazing to me."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.