"Owning a professional sports team is a very big responsibility, and frankly an honor. I have been a fan of CFL football since I was young and have loved the Lions for a long time. I am so very proud to now have the team under my ownership. This is great for all of BC, our community and of course the CFL.”
BC Lions’ new owner is not an unfamiliar name, but a community icon and business leader, Amar S. Doman. Aside from managing his responsibilities as a founder and sole shareholder of The Futura Corporation, one of British Columbia’s largest privately-owned companies, Doman wears many other hats. Having manifested an entrepreneurial spirit in him from a young age, he is also a mentor to budding business professionals. He is a philanthropist and involved member of the community, in addition to being a loving husband and doting father.
Belonging to a pioneer South Asian family on Vancouver Island, Doman remembers being taught the values of hard work and good discipline at a young age. Coming from an immigrant family and seeing how hard everyone was working to provide for the family laid the groundwork for higher achievement. It proved that anything is possible with determination, vision, and hard work. He can still recall working in the lumber mills with his brother, Rob Doman, on weekends and holidays while growing up, which enabled them to learn the business from the ground up.
“I grew up in Victoria and was always very close to my parents, especially my late father who taught me so much about business and life; he was my best friend. My mother always taught me to be honest and fair, and to treat people with respect.
Those core values are still with me today and my wife Natallie and I are instilling this into our children,” details the inspiring entrepreneur. Making the right choices and being the better person is something that Doman and his wife are actively ingraining into their children.
Moreover, since childhood, Doman has always had a very strong connection to his culture and heritage. While the food is an obvious daily connection, the South Asian businessman also regularly ponders about how hard it must have been for our first settlers in British Columbia. Doman shares his gratitude for his family and other community members who laid the foundation for coming generations, “This is still on my mind today. I have enormous respect for our pioneers, such as my grandparents. If it wasn’t for my mother and father’s confidence in me, I would not be where I am today. This all stems from our heritage and South Asian culture.”
When it comes to Doman stepping foot into and maneuvering through the business world, he went headfirst into his own business, literally the day after he graduated from Oak Bay High School. The icon-in-making had a plan ready, employees hired, and was set to go and he could not wait to get started. One minor piece was missing: money! The angel investor, it turned out, was not far from home.
“Dad wouldn’t loan me anything; he was old-school tough. Mom lent me $10,000 to get started and if it wasn’t for her, I would have never got the start I needed. Since I was a child, I always wanted to run my own business, and would constantly daydream about it. The vision was crystal clear, and I would draw and doodle the company name and my mind was preparing for this – scary yet exciting at the same time,” Doman vividly describes.
The business tycoon was driven by the thought that if his family could achieve success in business, so could he. Doman still remembers the day that his father took him on a two-day business trip to New York in Grade 10. Just seeing how large New York City is blew away the then-teen’s mind. Finding it hard to put the experience into words, he can still feel how badly he wanted ‘in’. Somehow, he wanted to be one of the people in the meetings he saw taking place. No matter what it would take, Doman then decided that he would work as hard as possible and try to listen and learn from successful people, following their habits.
Luckily, he had a front row seat with his family. Doman’s father truly taught junior Doman about the work ethic and what it would take to be an owner. For future entrepreneurs yearning for tips from the man himself, Doman offers some memorable pointers.
These are some of the fundamental things he learned growing up and he still employs these lessons in his daily life:
• You show up first, leave last. Work harder then everyone around you – always.
• Never be late – ever. Prepare for the next day the night before.
• Treat employees with respect, but be firm. If you have the wrong fit, terminate fast; it’s better for everyone involved.
• Watch out for debt. Oh, and yes, he paid his mom back!
• Return every call.
• You must be a self-starter.
• It’s not about you, it’s about the team and the collective vision.
Starting his own business with just four employees back in 1988 taught the stellar business executive how to meet a payroll, drive sales, and be tough on expenses. He was taught that if you can run a small business, you can run a large one also – but try and not forget what got you to the party. He made it a point to remain humble and hungry, convinced that good things will happen. There was a strong belief that there are no shortcuts as the road to success is always under construction, as per his father’s wise words. Doman elaborates, “A strong lesson I learned early on is to not have all of your eggs in one basket. Specifically, with one customer. I had a major customer drop my company early on in my career. It stung hard, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me all in all. Always keep your chips spread out around the table, because in business you never know what is going to come next, good or bad.”
Doman has been acquiring and running businesses since he was 18 and now has over 3,000 employees in North America. According to him, the key to holding all of this together is having the finest management team, whom he works side by side with. The team shares the same passion. Doman’s philosophy is that much like sports, having the right people in the right place is half the battle – the other half is showing up and working as hard as you can. He believes that all immigrants directly or indirectly have an advantage. If we channel our thoughts, dreams and work ethic in the right direction, anything is possible. Undoubtedly, his family is an example.
Aside from strides of success in the business Arena, Doman is a proactive member of the community in many respects. Doman is Chairman of Doman Building Materials, now one of North America’s largest producers and a global supplier of premium steel wire and wire products. His private company, the Futura Corporation, holds many different assets in it, including the public companies he controls and runs. New on the list is, of course, the BC Lions, which Doman is very excited about.
Doman had been interested in purchasing the BC Lions from quite some time and had been working on and off for over six years with late Mr. David Braley, Former Member of the Senate of Canada and former owner of BC Lions. “Owning a professional sports team is a very big responsibility, and frankly an honor. I have been a fan of CFL football since I was young and have loved the Lions for a long time. I am so very proud to now have the team under my ownership. This is great for all of BC, our community and of course the CFL,” he excitedly shares.
The new owner intends on supporting the team through fresh marketing endeavours, helping youth football, and investing in having the BC Lions become more visible again. He brings local flavour to the game, along with local passion. Evidently, he likes to win and work hard. Doman sees that the BC Lions team has all the ingredients to be successful, but there is a lot of work to do to bring more fans back into BC Place. He plans to listen to everyone to help the Lions regain strong success in BC. This includes rally days at schools, having the team out in schools talking to the youth, who are our future, about making the right decisions in life, and joining team sports where you learn many fundamental things about life in general. “I have not been this excited about something in many years. It will take time, but we will deliver on and off the field.”, assures Doman.
It is no question that the BC Lions are in good hands. Doman’s culture in business is one of professionalism and excellence. The Lions is a first-class organization with similar-minded people. This entails that both sides align very well and will continue to push for operational excellence moving forward, as will be the experience they create for our fans. To make this possible, Doman asks for the support of the South Asian community to come to the games and cheer them on; we should all be very proud of our BC Lions!
Aside from work and play, Doman has always been someone who likes to give back, which led him to get involved with The Heart & Stroke Foundation years ago. Eventually, he became a Director on their National Board. The generous philanthropist connects the dots, “My involvement stems from heart disease being in our family with my father, and the fact that it is rampant in the Indian community. The research and development have saved many lives and saved my father four times in his life. I will always be forever grateful for living in North America and having the access to health care that we have. One should not take this for granted.” Doman and his wife are involved in many other charities and believe in paying it forward. He believes that helping someone you don’t even know is a wonderful feeling and is part of our purpose.
Doman’s giving nature and robust professionalism is a combination like no other, but it takes a tremendous amount of brainpower to keep intact the many chairs he sits on. As fuel, Doman thinks that having a good fitness regimen is critical to a successful life and he personally enjoys working out in the gym and playing tennis when he has time, which is always at a premium. Doman admits that he travels heavy and is usually on the corporate plane weekly, attending meetings or being present at his operations, which span across Canada, the Western and Central United States, and Hawaii. The busy businessman’s at-home family time is precious and valuable.
In fact, despite his career-related accomplishments, Doman maintains that the best job he has ever had is that of a husband and a father, “It is the most rewarding and challenging thing in the world. My wife is very strong, and we both share similar philosophies on how we want to raise our children. We are both very active people and can’t really sit still – and neither do our kids. After we had the kids, my philosophy has changed in many ways. It’s now not all about me and my dreams. It is my job to support and teach my kids in how to follow their dreams and passions.”
Doman says that he will happily support and teach his kids if they wish to join the Company. No matter what, he does want them all to work as soon as they are of age. Doman strongly believes that you learn everything from working at a young age – be it the value of money or the value of what work means. “Having done hard physical labour, growing up, in the mills, I know how tough and grueling it can be. I also knows the value of a dollar because I have earned it with my own hands. Frankly, this is the only way you do learn that in my view,” Doman explains.
Literally building a magnanimous business empire with his very own hands, Doman is living proof that the seeds of resiliency, dedication, and hard work do bear fruit. Most of all, with a heart of gold, Doman is a community favorite for his philanthropic efforts. With the community’s flood of support, the business legend is set to take BC Lions to new heights, just as he does with any venture. With a family that paved the way for coming generations to flourish and a business that continues to instill pride in South Asians, Amar Doman is truly a community gem!