Upon facing skepticism from family and friends about pursuing a career in the construction industry, Manojh Subenthiran, better known as MJ, decided he would prove his naysayers wrong.
In 2012, MJ started Green Frog Construction, a construction, renovation and capital expenditure company based in Woodbridge, Canada. Today, Green Frog Construction boasts an impressive and growing commercial clientele including the likes of Scotiabank, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and The Brick.
MJ recently spoke with TamilCulture to discuss his career with Green Frog Construction and what he thinks about the seemingly growing number of Tamil-Canadians in the entrepreneurial sector.
Q: What led to your career in the construction industry?
A: I completed an Architectural Technologist program in school with some of my now current partners. After graduation, we went our separate ways and I was not able to find a job in my industry. I was very adamant about doing something construction-related, but it seemed that employers were looking for people with a lot of experience (5 to 10 years minimum). I became pretty frustrated and did a lot of random jobs that paid well, but I was never really satisfied.
One day, I came across a book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. It was a game changer for me in terms of how I viewed business. I decided that if I was not finding opportunities I should just create them for myself.
I started Green Frog Construction with a friend of mine in 2012. We started off doing minor handiwork and renovations. In the beginning, we actually lost money on every single one of our projects which was pretty discouraging.
It also didn’t help that family and friends often criticized us because of the type of work we were doing. The stigma surrounding a career in manual labour actually contributed to my founding partner calling it quits.
For two years, I ran this venture alone, still believing in the potential for the company’s success. In order to make up for the money lost, I found side work at a construction company as a project manager. I applied the experience and knowledge I gained there with my own company.
Shortly after, I partnered with two friends of mine, Sasithan Kanagasingham and Paramveer Sidhu, to make a bigger and better Green Frog Construction. In 2014, we successfully landed a contract to build a restaurant for Osmow’s, and from there we continued to build 9 locations consecutively in the same year. This opened the gates to more opportunities for the company and we have since forged a strong hold in the market. As of 2018, we are moving into developments and expanding outwards.
Q: What do you consider Green Frog Construction’s major achievements to be so far?
A: Our major achievement, or what we are most proud of, would be our growth rate. We grew exponentially in a very short period. Our project size has increased from $50,0000 to $1.5 million. Our project delivery is quick, and as a result we have had high client retention. We have built over 40 restaurants to date, and have contributed to creating opportunities and jobs in our community.
Q: Green Frog Construction is a sponsor to SickKids Hospital and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Why has it been important for the company to partner with these organizations?
A: We have been involved with SickKids and the Heart and Stroke Foundation since 2014. We really believe in giving back to the community whenever and however we can. We are also supporters of Habitat for Humanity and have volunteered a lot of man hours to ensure people in our community have safe places to live.
Q: What are some future goals for Green Frog Construction?
A: Our goal is to become one of Canada's leaders in construction.
Q. There seems to be a large number of people in the Tamil-Canadian community who are in the entrepreneurial sector. As an entrepreneur yourself, what do you think this says about the Tamil-Canadian community?
A: I have noticed that a lot of Tamil-Canadians are starting their own businesses and doing things differently from what they have been taught. I'm very proud of that and think it's long overdue. The second and third generation of Tamils have been exposed to so many opportunities and it’s great that many have made the most of it.
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