BIV co-founder George Mleczko passes away at 72

Mleczko co-founded Business in Vancouver with Peter Ladner in 1989

George Mleczko, co-founder of Business in Vancouver, passed away on November 6 | Submitted

Business in Vancouver co-founder George Mleczko passed away suddenly on November 6.

He is remembered by colleagues and friends as a local media icon, “one of the good guys,” a leader.

Mleczko co-founded BIV alongside Peter Ladner in 1989. It was the first business publication of its kind – one designed to arm local businesses with information and help them stay ahead of the competition. It was a "missing link" that bridged the gap between the daily papers' coverage of business and the features run by magazines.

Mleczko and Ladner teamed up to take advantage of a "foggy window of opportunity." They had to raise $1 million to get sustainable revenues.

"BIV would never have existed without George. He was the internal glue who held the whole thing together," Ladner told Business in Vancouver. While Ladner managed the editorial and content side of the venture, Mleczko ran sales and operations. 

"I thought together we made a good team," said Ladner. "He was most at home in the office nurturing and cajoling and encouraging the staff to do and be their best."

Within months of its first issue, Western Magazine Awards recognized their efforts by naming BIV as the best publication of the year in its circulation category.

Ken Conquer remembers Mleczko as “one of the good guys” from that era in publishing.

“I met George when he was hired by my friend Megan Abbott to help with the launch of B.C. Woman to Woman Magazine,” writes Conquer.

After Mleczko moved on to BIV and Conquer to another publication, he recalls meeting with Mleczko and other publishers to discuss the industry.

“Originally our meetings concentrated strategies to grow our publications as the big dailies worked against us. In short order our meetings switched to focusing on the internet as our biggest threat and opportunity and we all benefited from our shared knowledge.”

Graham Walmsley worked for Mleczko producing Urban Trenz/What’s On magazine.

“I will always remember his warmth, welcoming smile, high spirits, and contagious sense of humour,” he wrote online.

Mleczko was born in a small German town in 1946, where his parents served the Polish Underground Army after the end of the Second World War.

His family immigrated to Leeds, England before landing in Toronto in 1953, where Mleczko was raised. He travelled and sought adventure throughout his 20s and 30s. He worked in sales at the Toronto Sun and Edmonton Sun newspapers.

His sister, Diane McElroy, describes him as a sensitive soul with a high level of integrity and generosity; as fiercely loyal, smart and someone with a great sense of humour.

Connections on Facebook recalled a sales meeting run by Mleczko at Equity Magazine in the 80s. He gave an inspirational speech to the team, leaned back and put his feet up on the desk. On the soles of his shoes, the words “Sell Sell Sell.”

After a successful career in the publishing industry, Mleczko sold his share in BIV, retired and revived his travel bug, according to his obituary.

"George hired me three times. Because of the skills I developed at BIV I was offered positions with other publishers," wrote Scott Wheatley, Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce executive director, on LinkedIn. He met Mleczko in 1989.

"George and I always kept in contact and eventually I would get "home sick" and George would hire me back into a bigger and better role than the one I had left. BIV still feels like home to me. Goodbye my friend. You are missed."

A private family interment and celebration of life will be held at a future date. A gathering to honour Mleczko's life is also being planned for early 2020.

An obituary, along with memories of Mleczko, can be read here.