Unusual Paths to Success

The unconventional starting point of some PROFIT 500 CEOs

Written by Staff

“The original guy started [the company] in 1978. It was just a one-man business that did about $10,000 in revenue each summer. I borrowed some money and bought it when I was in high school, and worked at it seasonally through university. After graduation, I left the business to work in engineering. When that died down, I decided to relaunch this company and turn it into a full-time entityI needed a job!” —Matt Mould, Sport Systems Canada (No. 293)

“Back in the 1990s, I was working for Highliner Foods. I liked living in Nova Scotia but I didn’t trust that the fishing industry was going to be around. The government was pushing to start a cranberry industry. They were holding courses, and I thought, €˜Why not give it a try?'” —David Ernst, Terra Beata Farms (No. 48)

“I came to Canada in 2001 from the Middle East. I ended up working with a small company and started understanding processes and financial statements. I was running it within three months as I spent days and nights studying how to run that company. I wasn’t been paid extra for it, but I ended up cashing in on that experience. I founded this company in 2002.”Rajesh Ahuja, Dependable Mechanical Systems (No. 205)


“I was a golf pro for 18 years after coming out of high school, but I had done construction before then and wanted to get back into it.”—Perry Curiston, The Renovators of Canada (No. 195)

“I got fired. I was working at a marketing agency where I was doing exactly what I’m doing now. Our company got bought and the new owners didn’t think my area was profitable enough. So, two weeks later, I incorporated Zone and tried to do it on my own.”—Dennis Pitselis, Zone Marketing Group (No. 49)

“I didn’t want to go the local route [in building a clientele] because, when you have to meet them, there’s nuance required. Back then, I was just 21, 22, and didn’t have those skills. So, being able to work remotely was extremely important. I had to portray myself as someone who wasn’t working in Victoria. I actually had a New York-based number.”—Andrew Wilkinson, Metalab Design (No. 74)

“We were a large family, and my dad wanted to create work for his sons. As each son got older and there were sons-in-law and daughters, and everybody became part of the business, it grew.”—Kevin Parsons, Parsons Trucking (No. 161)

“Back in 1996, I was helping teachers understand the Internet. One day, a school commission techie came to demonstrate software and I treated him like an incompetent. He said, €˜If you’re so brilliant, come fix a problem we have with the printer.’ It took me five minutes to fix. So, they said, €˜We’ll hire you to do the support.’ I was in fifth grade of high school [Grade 11 outside Quebec] and, to do it, I had to incorporate. So, I was forced to launch a business!”—Jean-François Rousseau, Libéo (No. 119)

“My son was playing hockey and smashing the walls, and I thought there had to be a better way. So I developed the tethered system.”
Paul Brun, Hockeyshot (No. 31)

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Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com