2013 B.C. Entrepreneur of the Year: Glenn Johnson

Glenn Johnson, Endurance Winder Power | BCBusiness

Congratulations to Glenn Johnson, president and CEO of Endurance Wind Power Inc., the 2013 B.C. Pacific Region Entrepreneur of the Year (in cleantech)

Glenn Johnson, 43, wants to make one thing perfectly clear: he may head a clean-energy company that builds the world’s quietest wind turbines, but he’s no bleeding-heart environmentalist. “I’m a good human, but I’m not a do-gooder,” the president and CEO of Surrey-based Endurance Wind Power asserts. “I still drive a V8.”

What Johnson is, he’ll readily tell you, is an entrepreneur “from day one.” At age five he was collecting out-of-bounds golf balls at the Gleneagles Golf Club, in his native Horseshoe Bay, and reselling them. At 12, he started buying and selling boats. At 19, he graduated to flipping houses. In 1994, at 23, he founded Comsource Broadband Technologies Corp.; by the time it sold for an undisclosed sum in 2000, it was raking in $70 million in annual sales.

“I didn’t go to college and all my friends were coming out of college with huge student loans,” he says, with his trademark candour. “I was like, ‘I’ve got $200,000 cash. I’m going to start this business, because if I screw it up, I’ll be 25 and broke.’”

He didn’t screw it up and it was the perfect training ground for his biggest project to date: Endurance Wind Power, founded in 2007. “The biggest change with Endurance is it’s a big boys’ business. It’s a big-money game and the reward is bigger,” Johnson says. The induction wind turbines cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to manufacture and sell for between $300,000 and $400,000 apiece to clients in the U.K., the U.S. and Italy. Today, Endurance brings in between $50 million and $100 million in annual revenues—and is profitable.

His success, says Johnson, lies in hiring the right people and keeping them happy. He’s immensely proud of the fact that almost 50 per cent of his 120 staff have bought shares in the company; “They have put their trust in me and this company and that we are going to be something.”

And that whole saving the planet thing? Well, you won’t find him chained to any trees in the foreseeable future. But he is thinking about trading in that Jaguar, possibly for the sleek all-electric car-of-the-moment. “If I can get into one of the new Tesla four-door sedans, I would buy one of those.”
The person I learned the most from was my grandfather. He was a successful entrepreneur who treated staff and clients with respect and kindness.

Six Questions

I knew my business was a success when we became the largest manufacturer in the world for distributed wind, and other industry players were acknowledging it.

I get my best ideas when I am in the hot tub, alone, with a glass of wine.

People tell me the phrase I most overuse is “Good for you!”

The most underrated trait of an entrepreneur is guts. It takes guts to make the tough decisions and that is what separates true entrepreneurs from others.

If I weren’t doing this I’d be pampering my wife, coaching my two boys’ sports endeavours and playing golf every day.