Gary Shokar


BC Business Magazine - - Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 -

Three years ago, Gary Shokar found him­self out of a job. Es­corted out after the hos­tile takeover of his fam­ily-owned firm, Shokar built a com­peti­tor with in­cred­i­ble speed, scal­ing up his con­struc­tion sup­ply com­pany, Avenex Coat­ing Tech­nolo­gies, from a dozen to more than 1,000 em­ploy­ees. “When I was let go, just be­cause I had ties to prior own­er­ship—that gave me all the in­cen­tive I needed,” he says.

Raised in Pitt Mead­ows, Shokar got an early start in sales, land­ing a job sell­ing vac­uum clean­ers door-todoor around Sal­mon Arm at age 18. After study­ing sciences at UBC, he went into busi­ness with his father, who co-owned In­ter­wrap Inc., a maker of roof­ing sup­plies now based in Van­cou­ver. In his role as head of mar­ket de­vel­op­ment, he grew his divi­sion to $40 mil­lion in an­nual rev­enue. In 2013, Shokar se­nior’s busi­ness part­ner sold his 50 per cent stake to a pri­vate eq­uity firm. The new own­ers wanted new man­age­ment, and Shokar was let go.

He set to work build­ing Avenex. Re­cruit­ing a team of in­dus­try ex­perts and so­lic­it­ing clients, Shokar quickly found suc­cess. These days, Avenex is one of Canada’s lead­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers of multi-lay­ered poly­eth­yl­ene con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, which are com­monly used to wa­ter­proof or re­tain water. Avenex’s prod­uct lines range from roof­ing seals that go un­der shin­gles to house wraps to ir­ri­ga­tion bed­ding. Shokar is par­tic­u­larly proud of his com­pany’s de­vel­op­ment of ir­ri­ga­tion prod­ucts that can hold mil­lions of gal­lons of water even through par­tic­u­larly tough mon­soon sea­sons in South Asia, a grow­ing mar­ket for Avenex.

With a team of 10 in Canada, in­clud­ing staff at the com­pany’s head­quar­ters and R&D lab in Van­cou­ver, Shokar over­sees pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties in South Carolina and Asia and sells to cus­tomers rang­ing from farm­ers in In­dia to For­tune 500 com­pa­nies. —J.P.

WHAT’S ONE THING THAT PEO­PLE WOULD BE SUR­PRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU? The fact that I’ve been work­ing since I was 11. I started out ref­er­ee­ing soc­cer games


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