James K. Irving, OC, ONB (born March 20, 1928) is the eldest son of industrialist K.C. Irving. With an estimated net worth of $US 6 billion (as of april 2014), James Irving (with his brother Arthur) was ranked by Forbes as the 3rd wealthiest person in Canada and 205th in the world. Regarded as one of the leading Canadian industrialists of his time, J.K Irving has immensely diversified Atlantic Canada's largest private company with over 300 subsidiaries within the JDI group of companies. Under the heading "Kenneth Colin Irving, Industrial Caesar 1899-1992," the Canada Heirloom series' volume Pathfinders: Canadian Tributes (published on the Industry Canada web site), describes the Irving empire thusly:
"The establishment, progress, and financial success of the Irving Group of Companies is one of the greatest, and perhaps the most unusual, of all corporate accomplishments in Canadian economic history. By the early 1990s this group included thousands of Irving automobile service stations in eastern Canada and northeastern United States, transport companies, forest industry operations, pulp and paper mills, newspaper, radio, and TV companies, Canada’s largest oil refinery, a modern shipyard, and the first deep-water terminal in the western hemisphere."
After their father's death in 1992, ownership and responsibility for the Irving companies were divided as follows:
James K. — Brunswick News (publishing) and J.D. Irving Limited, the conglomerate with interests in forestry, paper, kraft, tissue, wallboard, building supplies, frozen food, transportation, shipping lines, and shipbuilding and several other interests. The company was started by his grandfather, hence the name.
Arthur — Irving Oil, its retail stores, oil refinery, oil tankers and distribution terminals and facilities.
Companies within the Irving conglomerate are vertically integrated, meaning, where possible, they purchase products and services from other firms within the Irving Group.
In 1957, J.K pioneered the company’s reforestation and tree improvement programs and expanded the forest products’ business. Over the past 50 years the company planted over 850 million trees – a national record in Canada. Trees, being nature’s air filters, absorb carbon dioxide to combat global warming. Today, continual reforestation is sustaining jobs and value-added operations that J.K. and his sons have grown over the years.
In 1996, J.K. was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2008 he was made a Member of the Order of New Brunswick, as well as a member of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. He is occasionally involved in efforts to preserve the Atlantic Salmon in northeastern North America. Irving also started the PALS (Parters assisting local schools) program for school children locally in Saint John N.B. Irving is known for his humble attitude and is very passionate for the advancement of his home province of New Brunswick.