Shady Elhami is an entrepreneur and business owner based in Montreal. He serves as Vice President of his family’s business, where he is responsible for the product design and development of industrial heating systems.
In addition to operating these companies, Shady and his brother formed a company that produces large precast concrete structures for the construction industry. They also founded an online platform they built and designed, which allows customers in the railroad industry to view and control heating on various installations remotely. These systems are utilized to both maintain equipment from freezing and contribute to saving close to 80% of energy by controlling temperature and operations based on climate conditions.
Where did the idea for your family’s business come from?
We supply and manufacture a wide variety of heaters used in some of the biggest brands of dryers in the market. For a long time, we wanted to develop and market our own finished product rather than having our customers be at the mercy of using products from overseas. Our labor costs and other costs do not allow us to offer low prices such as in China, so we decided to develop our own dryer.
When we started designing the dryer, and after months of testing, we found large deposits of dust and other bacteria on the intake of the motor. Rather than to use a hepa filter like our competitors do, we thought of something out of the box and came up with using a UV light. We then started to test our theory. We have yet to do a microbiology study with a university, but we did do a swab test for bacteria comparing our dryer with others, and the results are astonishing.
Our unit kills 99% of any harmful bacteria going into the dryer and therefore the air being forced on the hands is clean and germ-free.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The best part of many of my days starts when I drive my kids to school. This is time I get to be with them, and I have all their attention. We talk, listen to news and music, and then I drop them off and wish them a nice day.
I then go to the office and we typically have production meetings every Tuesday to know what we have coming down the pipeline and if we are meeting our goals with customers. The rest of the day I spend between my desk, the shop floor, talking to customers, staff and engineers. It’s extremely busy and I am very lucky and blessed. Not a day goes by that is dull, and I constantly learn new things and try to better myself.
How do you bring ideas to life?
That is a very good question, and honestly, sometimes I don’t know. All I can say is that I am not afraid of much, especially not of failure, which makes me keep going until I reach my goals. I am lucky that I am surrounded by a very good network of people that aid me in all steps along the way. I always surrounded myself with the right people and it’s a gift I got from my father. God rest his soul. Those who don’t fail don’t succeed.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The internet of things. I’m amazed by how technology has improved business and manufacturing. I’m also in awe of how loT is used in our daily lives.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am always thinking of what I will do next after achieving what I am working on. I sometimes think it’s a curse that I’m always thinking of other things, but at the same time this is what makes me succeed.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Never give up.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That you can do more than one thing at a time. Most people think you would only focus on one thing and I disagree fully. You cannot put your eggs in one basket.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Never give up or listen to all of the negative comments people have. There are always going to be people who are negative and you should not surround yourself with them at all. They try to portray their failures and their lack of optimism and indirectly try to put others down.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I’m always thinking bigger and trying to make things that no one does, and if they do, they are substantially much bigger. I always say if the Americans went to the moon surely, I can do this. I do not think anything is impossible, I just have to work at it. You cannot sit on a chair just dreaming. I never refuse a challenge.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I have had one major issue in the past years that has caused me grief and I am still paying the price for it. I am still trying to overcome it today and will get over it. The mistake I made is thinking that being a minority you have the same rights, and unfortunately that is not the case.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Finding a way to create energy from waste and fuel from recycled plastics.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Best $100 spent is when I buy a bottle of wine that my wife and I like. We spend time together enjoying it after the kids go to bed and we just talk.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
The iPhone. I’m not sure if it’s a curse or something that helps me but it makes me 10x more productive. It’s like I never left the office and can do so much even while I am away, I can still write emails and docs, and I can access my desktop.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
This is actually something I wish I had learned as a child. I never got bitten by the reading bug. I do read quite a bit on technology, processes, manufacturing, and other work-related topics. I do like to read biographies and this year I’m starting with a book about Winston Churchill.
What is your favorite quote?
Those who don’t work don’t make mistakes.
Never be afraid of failure.
Surround yourself with a good network of people.
Always think bigger.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.