Saturday, October 14, 2006

Chapter 8: Union Station

In case you are wonderin' what is going on with this here.

In chapter 8, Joe Fiorito takes a look at entrepreneurs who have moved from Asia and try and make it in Toronto. These entrepreneurs open everything from restaurants, where Fiorito reminisces about good soup to vacuum dealers who had to struggle with unfair competition from next door and succeed.

Every single businessman who has struggled to make it big in Canada and, for some, the world. There are a couple of businesses in Aurora that have seen recent immigrants come to Canada and start their own small businesses.

First, the most famous person in Aurora to own a business is perhaps Frank Stronach who founded Magna Autoparts, and later, Magna Entertainment. Frank Stronach started it all in Sweden and gradually moved his operations to Toronto. Eventually Magna (after merging his with another company) got its first contract for autoparts from General Motors. Magna has emerged to become the leading autopart manufacturer in the world with companies ranging from Ford and General Motors to Honda and Mercedez Benz. The Magna Autoparts world headquarters is located in Aurora, on the former farm of Frank Stronach (who still lives there as well). More on Magna's history can be found on their website.

Another recent immigrant making big, but not as big as Frank Stronach but could have if he had of left Aurora is Omar Khamissa. Recently, Omar passed away, which was a major blow to Aurora's business community considering he was in business for over 30 years and has seen several thousand pairs of feet that required shoes. In fact, I probably got my first pair of shoes fitted by either Omar himself or a member of his staff. An article on the difference Omar has made to Aurora can be found here.

Aurora, for what was a small town, has made it big both within small business in terms of Omar, but also big worldwide in terms of Frank. Fiorito's looking for the average small business owner left this out. However, Fiorito's book was more based around telling the stories that aren't usually told in the Toronto area.

But I do find, at least recently, that I find books on how entrepreneurs made it big to be very interesting. For example, I have recently read The Google Story which explores how Google has gone from a company run out of a dorm room and a garage to a multi billion dollar company. Perhaps one of the biggest people I look up to in business is my own uncle, Bob Young, who made it big in the field of Linux as founder of Red Hat Linux. His book, Under the Radar, formed the basis for the research I did for a paper for my Business History course at the University of Ottawa on the rise of Linux in the marketplace. This paper can be found here.

Who knows, perhaps down the road I will have my own successful business story.....

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