Why He’s Top 40: For launching a successful building company at 25, and supporting children with cancer.
Key To Success: “Always do what you say, admit when you’re wrong, know your weaknesses and surround yourself with people that offset them.”
It isn’t a terribly long commute between his home and his company’s office in Ellerslie, but in rush-hour traffic, Dan Brazinha would rather not contend with clueless drivers. Not on his motorbike, not as the father of a toddler and infant. “The bike doesn’t leave the garage much,” he says.
Prudence sounds funny coming from the mouth of someone who started a homebuilding company – a ballsy move at any age, let alone 25 – but he doesn’t see entrepreneurship as risky; in fact, he says it felt natural. As the son of a Portuguese immigrant who became a partner in an Edmonton building company, Brazinha has been on job sites since he could barely lift a hammer.
As an adult, he earned a NAIT diploma in construction engineering with self-employment in mind. He reached his goal 10 years ago when he and two partners opened Look Homes Master Builder, which builds mainly in southwest Edmonton. Since starting out, he’s built 800 homes; this year alone, the company’s revenues hit $38 million.
Business is good and Brazinha happily enjoys the rewards of his hard work (he’s built a few different homes for himself). Nonetheless, he’s been quietly giving back since 2006, building two homes and donating the proceeds from the sales ($75,000) to the Cross Cancer Institute’s Building Cures For Kids Home Project.
Each year, Brazinha’s motorcycle comes out of retirement for two fundraisers organized for the Kids With Cancer Society. Each year, he saddles up for a three-day motorcycle adventure across British Columbia and Alberta, for which he collects pledges. At another event, he volunteers to give (gentle) rides on his motorcycle to kids with cancer.
While he does it for the kids, volunteering for the society provides an important reality check. “We get pissed off because our latt wasn’t hot enough that morning, or something like that,” he says, “and then you’ve got a kid who’s five years old – who hasn’t done anything to anybody – fighting for his life.”