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Tell us about your journey before buying and running Greenwind Electrical Services.
From the time I was a little boy; maybe just 8-years-old, I knew I wanted to be in the electronics or robotics field. I’ve always been fascinated by how things work. I used to take apart everything to see the insides and to figure out what made them tick. Didn’t matter if it was a TV set, a radio, or even a battery box – if it ran on electricity, I was fascinated. I’m surprised my parents didn’t take the TV with them when they left the house, to be honest. I was almost guaranteed to take it apart. But my Mom was so supportive. She never stopped me from what I was doing even though she knew I’d be taking the TV or radio or something else apart. She enjoyed watching me and encouraged me to be curious and to pursue my passion.
So, in 1992, when I immigrated to Canada, I naturally took a job at a television and VCR assembly company. In 1993, I moved on to a job as a paint technician at a cabinetry company. Two years later, I moved to the maintenance department as an electrician. I think that was around 1995. This was a job I grew to love very quickly. I got the opportunity to build robots to improve productivity by making people’s jobs faster and more efficient. This was a real niche for me. I found that I was very good at building robots and machines in general and I was elated to apply my passion into practice.
But I wanted to do more still. So, in 2001, I earned my license as an Industrial Electrician. Within a few years, I also became certified as a Robotic Technician and as a Programmable Logic Controller or a PLC, as it’s simply known in the trade. Finally, in 2005, I obtained my Construction Maintenance license. I just kept learning and learning.
What came next for you?
Well, I always knew that I was called to be self-employed, so in 2007 I started my own company, “PP Automation”, specializing in electrical and mechanical services. I ran this while still continuing to work at the cabinetry company. There were some long days indeed. By 2009, I had earned a Master Electrician’s degree from the Ontario Trade College. I was in search of a new challenge even though I was working one full-time job and three part-time. In 2009, one of my part-time jobs was with Greenwind Electrical. In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted more and that I had to find a way to turn my part-time job – which was my passion – into my career.
In 2014, Greenwind was in the midst of downsizing. I was appointed as the Managing Director and I had all of 5 employees. But I was totally confident that I could turn the business around, so I left my job at the cabinetry firm and turned my energies towards Greenwind on a full-time basis. By 2015, I had grown Greenwind to 15 employees and by 2016, 40! Not only had I seen the potential of the business, I had realized it. This is when I decided to offer to buy the company outright. They accepted and Greenwind Electrical Services became mine. Today, Greenwind is respected industry-wide and is widely recognized as one of the very best companies of our type, right across Canada.
Where do you see Greenwind Electrical Services in 10 years?
I’m expanding the business in all departments of the construction field. I’m seeing a steady increase of demand for our services. I see us as the top producer in the industry with at least 100 employees by 2030. Additionally, I also see myself as being on the cutting edge of innovation of robotics and other machinery.
I’ve heard a lot about 3-D Printing of buildings and the replacement of human workers with technology to do work as something that will happen sooner than later. What do you think? Is this something you’ve looked at?
Yes, I have looked into this. In point of fact, I’m already a part of this technology as I’ve built robots and robotic machines as part of my previous work. I’m heavily invested into this as a robotic programmer. It excites me and gets my juices flowing as an innovator. In fact, I’m looking for a large investment to kickstart this exciting project.
How do you think COVID has changed the construction market?
Honestly, it hasn’t affected the construction market that much in my opinion. At least, (knock on wood), not for me. However, it has made all of us think about what the future business-wise might look like. This is a good thing. We’ll have to wait to see how it all plays out but really, Covid-19, if handled right, could actually bring new opportunities.
What is a business idea that you would pursue today if you weren’t doing Greenwind Electrical Services?
Oh, for sure I’d be involved in robotic programming and innovation. There are many things I’ve built for fun. I know that if I wasn’t here, I’d have been the innovator of at least a few more machines.
Do you have any mentors that have helped you in the progression of your career? Do you think everybody needs mentors? How does somebody find a mentor?
I have a few mentors; my mother, my father and my wife. My mother, because she always encouraged me to learn and because she enriched my curiosity. My father, as even though he was abroad, every time he came home, he brought home electronics for me to tinker with, encouraging me along this path. My wife, because of her undying and unquestioning loyalty. She is my most important and supportive person. I know that she always has my back. To the second question, I’d have to say “yes.” But your mentor can come right from your own household. Really, whomever nourishes your curiosity and supports your dreams, can be your mentor. As for “finding a mentor”; it’s usually a little more organic than physically looking for someone to fill that role. Often, you sort of discover after the fact that someone was your mentor. It might be the best person you know in your line of work. Or it could be someone in your field whom you respect and who has agreed to let you shadow them and work with them so you can learn.
What do you think you would tell 16-year Raj looking back?
Thank you for following your dreams and never giving up. Thank you for being curious and for continuing to learn. Thank you for being positive.
How would you describe your dream life?
I am living it now. This is my dream life!
What is a new belief, behaviour or habit that has most improved your life?
It’s not a new belief because I’ve lived it my whole life, but it’s my view that anything is possible if you truly put your mind and heart into it. Change is inevitable but if you stay focused on your goal, nothing can stop you.
What is your favourite Tamil food (meal or dessert)?
Kothu Roti, Kool, and anything seafood.
What is your favourite Tamil movie?
“Ponnumani” struck a chord with me. I don’t know why exactly. It came out in 1993 and it connected with me and my wife in a beautiful way.
What does Tamil culture mean to you?
It means a lot to me! It is my identity. I like the cultural disciplines and outlook. It grounds me.
***If you want to connect with Pakatheesan, please reach out via his TC profile - https://tamilculture.com/user/pakatheesan-yogarajah***