PRESIDENT, AVENEX COATING TECHNOLOGIES INC.
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