Why He’s Top 40: After coming to a new country and entering a sector he knew nothing about, he has built his company into a major player.
If you could change one thing about Edmonton, what would it be?“We have a beautiful river … maybe there needs to be more activities or walking areas in our city that drive people to enjoy the river.”
It takes a certain kind of entrepreneur to relocate to a new country, take on a business in an unfamiliar sector and build it into an industry leader.
Harry Sunner and his father are those kind of people.
Born and raised in Birmingham, England, Sunner was 19 when his family moved to Edmonton in search of better business opportunities. Once here, he and his father partnered up and bought Durabuilt Windows – even though they knew nothing about windows or construction.
“We just said, ‘You know what, it’s a challenge. Let’s dive in and do what we can,'” Sunner says.
In the 20 years since, Durabuilt has grown from a dozen employees and annual sales of $800,000 to 400 employees and yearly sales approaching $70 million. Sunner’s father is the company’s CEO while Sunner started on the factory floor and is now the president.
The key to Durabuilt’s success has been Sunner’s relentless efforts to forge the connections that are necessary to succeed in the relationship-driven construction industry.
“You just don’t stop. You go, you get rejected, you get rejected, you try to find a guy that knows a guy … to find every solution possible to wheel your way in to tell them who you really are – like, I’m here for real,” he says.
Now that it has established a solid track record of delivering the goods for its customers and contributing to local charities – including Little Warriors Be Brave Ranch, the Edmonton Humane Society and the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute at the University of Alberta – Durabuilt has won its first ironman triathlon, Sunner says. Over the next five years, he’s anticipating a magnitude of growth and brand strengthening that it took the previous 15 years to achieve.
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Overall, Durabuilt’s scale is far beyond what Sunner imagined when he set a goal of simply working in some sort of family business.
“My goal was to work with my dad forever until we couldn’t,” he says. “I’ve achieved more than what I had envisioned.”