Job Title: Chairman and Co-Founder, Imagine Health Centres
Why He’s Top 40: He’s created a chain of clinics that bring together many health-care practitioners.
Guilty Pleasure: “Sneakers. I’m a sneakerhead.” After a year of collecting, he’s amassed about 75 pairs.
When he decided to study pharmacy at the University of Alberta, Ray Yue knew he didn’t want to be stuck behind a counter forever. “I felt pharmacy offered a lot of opportunity to help people, but it also had a business component,” he says. He could, for instance, work as a clinician and also own and operate a pharmacy, as his uncle did in Edmonton.
In his last year of school, Yue found a way to scratch that entrepreneurial itch. He and some classmates saw an opportunity to start their own staffing firm after a pharmaceutical company tried to recruit them.
After graduating, Yue divided his time between practising pharmacy and running the recruitment firm – until he saw another opportunity. It was 2004 and housing options for young professionals were limited, especially in smaller communities. Yue got his real-estate licence and began buying up properties and then renting them out as furnished, executive suites, using his network of pharmacists to find both renters and investors.
“This worked well, but I felt there was more I could learn about real estate,” he says. In 2007, as the first two companies wound down, Yue moved into commercial real estate. Again, he leveraged his pharmacy background, helping other pharmacists, physicians, and health-care professionals find the right commercial spaces for their clinics.
But his latest venture may be the most ambitious yet. A couple of years ago, Yue and U of A medicine alumnus Jonathan Chan began Imagine Health Centres, a chain of health clinics. “We looked at how care was being delivered and saw a very fragmented system,” says Yue. His clinics (two in Edmonton, one in Calgary) employ doctors, nurses, pharmacists and physiotherapists, who provide collaborative patient care.
In two years, the business has grown from three physicians to 50 physicians and 100 employees. And, all the while, he’s continued working as a commercial real-estate broker and is about to launch a new company.