President of Meticulous Wood Flooring Inc.
Location: Headingley, MB
Graham Hawryluk wasn’t born into manual labour. A self-described private-school “lifer,” he grew up expecting a career in the professional realm. That all changed when he took a summer job with a gymnasium flooring company at age 15 and discovered his passion for working with his hands. “I developed a strong respect for blue-collar work,” he explains, “and acquired new skills that forever changed me.” A few years later, Hawryluk started Meticulous Wood Flooring with little more than a few basic tools, his parents’ garage as a head office and a love for installing hardwood flooring. Six years on, the company sells and installs a wide range of wood flooring, and is making its mark as an eco-friendly alternative to industry giants. For instance, its fleet is composed exclusively of fuel-efficient vehicles, its floor-refinishing process uses only low-VOC solvents and its hottest seller is a proprietary line of reclaimed floorboards. With revenue expected almost to double this year over last, it’s safe to say that Hawryluk’s sophisticated approach to manual work is hitting the right marks.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
The secret to a happy customer is simple: underpromise and overdeliver.
What has been the biggest surprise about being an entrepreneur?
I went into business to prove to myself what I was capable of. With this mindset, it didn't bother me too much what others thought, just as long as I could look back and honestly tell myself that I had made the best of each day. So, receiving acknowledgment of my achievements from others has certainly been a big surprise.
What can governments, institutions and other businesses do to better support young entrepreneurs?
My biggest battle as a young entrepreneur was finding startup capital. It certainly isn’t easy for an 18-year-old to acquire large sums of money based on a simple business plan. Government grants for young entrepreneurs and government-guaranteed loans at low interest rates are good, although we could always use more. And the problem with some of these programs is the amount of red tape you have to deal with before even having a shot at being accepted. These steps can be daunting for someone who is starting up for the first time in business. A free government program that holds the hands of those seeking startup capital would have been something I would have appreciated when starting my business.