“I am where I am today because of the choices I have made in the past. As most of you already know, it is not easy to start a business. When I first started I decided to produce a product that consumers would require and enjoy. And that was to beautify homes, using California shutters, blinds and hardwood”.
The foregoing is Guyana-born John Persaud’s objective reflection on his road to becoming a millionaire in Canada.
Because home renovation is such a large industry, he knew getting orders would not be an issue. He was determined however to ensure that his customers got quality and service with the utmost trust and confidence.
He firmly believes that perseverance, determination and hard work would make any dream a reality. He is fully aware that being successful is not about wearing designer suits but knowing about your product from start to finish.
Persaud started his business in 1990 when companies were closing their doors, hoping that when the recession was over people would come back.
Recounting his experiences leading to his present success Persaud says: “My big break came when I was hired by Shell Canada Research Center in the field of chemical engineering. During my years I attended several financial courses. I borrowed money abundantly from Shell Credit Union and invested heavily in the real estate market. Shell was moving to Calgary and I was stuck with over half a dozen real estate properties. It was the middle of the recession. The problem was: how would I keep them? Well, when one door closes another one opens. Losing my job was like being tossed in an ocean. I either swam or I sank.
“I realized taking risks were all part of life. People who risk nothing, do nothing, have nothing and they are nothing. So I took my package and started selling blinds. The first product we ever started selling was blinds. I decided if it could work for Sears it could work for me.”
That industry is very large, as there are over 100 different types of blinds, Persaud discovered. They range from pull string to remote control to hard wiring. “We later started manufacturing shutters, diversify in hard wood.” However California shutters manufacturing remains his company’s main business.
He started going door to door with a Knob Hill Farms basket. Some days he worked in temperature of minus 20 degrees. But Persaud knew he had to keep on going because it doesn’t matter how bad the situation was for him, it was worse for others where I came from in Guyana.
Between 12 to 15 years of age Persaud did not attend school. He worked in the paddy field, cutting rice, catching fish, doing whatever he could to be sure his family survived.
Persaud’s uncle recognized his potential at an early age and asked the founder of Hindu College if he could get an education in exchange for cleaning the school and washing the utensils. Arrangements were made for the barter.
At age 19 he earned nine subjects at the General Certificate of Education (GCE) O level. He attended the University of Guyana to study pharmacy. At the age of 21 he immigrated to Canada and attended college. At the same time, he performed odd jobs to survive.
He attributes the success he’s achieved to his uncle Jamanlaal who had facilitated his entry to Guyana’s Cove & John Hindu College, to his Holiness Swami Purnananandaji Maharj, who engineered successive scholarships for him to study at the College, to the many bramcharies and teachers who assisted him in his studies, to his Mom for her outstanding parental support and to his countless friends and relatives who have supported him throughout his endeavors. He’s also practiced the sound economic principle of developing a diversified portfolio. The financial success he has achieved to date has been built upon the multi pillars of his entrepreneurial business endeavors with Superbilt shutters, sound real estate investments and astute stock market trading.
Not unlike many ultra successful entrepreneurs however, with John Persaud it isn’t all about business success. He’s also found ways of being involved with the Guyanese and Caribbean Canadian communities. In 1981, along with a group of close friend volunteers he started hosting an Annual Boat Cruise on the Friday evening of the Caribana August long weekend.
The five-hour evening cruise on Lake Ontario aboard the River Gambler very quickly became an affair to remember with remarkable musical entertainment and spontaneous dancing for its customary attendance of approximately 500 friends and family members. According to John, the Boat Cruise served as an annual reunion for many old friends from Guyana, the United States and Canada with amazing food, drinks, dancing and a mesmerizing view of Toronto’s attractive skyline.
Over the years the annual outing became so popular and much looked-forward to that tickets were gone just as they were released. Part of the reason for the Cruise’s outstanding popularity was the awareness among attendees that John had developed the highly commendable habit of donating its proceeds to the Shiva Shakti Cultural Sabha, a registered charity that has been providing spiritual and cultural services in Scarborough, Ontario area for more than two decades.
In the same manner that John Persaud planned his work and worked his plan on his journey to outstanding success, he’s also set an example worthy of emulation by all, by not only talking the walk but also indisputably walking the talk!