30 Under 30: Avi Horwitz is paving a way in construction with Sterling Floor & Tile Ltd.

Sterling Floor + Tile just purchased a Richmond office and continues to expand rapidly.

Avi Horwitz, 29

President, Sterling Floor & Tile Ltd.

Life Story: After growing up in Vancouver to immigrant parents who fled South Africa in apartheid, Avi Horwitz took his talents to Western University, where he enrolled in the school’s business program. He dropped out after a year and a half. “I felt lost in the first year of university, and it turned into depression,” Horwitz says. He remembers coming home at 19 years old and sitting on the floor of his parents’ basement with no idea what was next.

In 2016, after a couple stints in the restaurant industry, Horwitz caught on with a Vancouver office furnishing company as a sales associate for its new flooring division. He spent six months there and, as he recalls, the company did $500,000 in that time. “On a macro scale, we were doing a really poor job, but we were still doing half a million in revenue,” he says. “I didn’t know what a good job was, but I knew how to not do a bad job; we shouldn’t be not responding to emails and we shouldn’t fire some of our own clients.”

Horwitz, 22 years old at the time, had a proposal for the owner of the business: give him 50 percent ownership of the flooring division and let him run it: “He told me no and that I had to leave, so I did.” In October 2016, Horwitz started Sterling Floor & Tile. In the first year, the company did over $1.5 million in sales.

“In the construction industry, there’s a lot of messing around,” Horwitz says. “If you want to mess around and not pay your bills, it’s very easy to do. We run our business straight as an arrow—we’ve never missed a payment or been one day late on any payment to any supplier once in six and a half years, and I wear that on my sleeve. In an industry where everyone is screwing over everyone, people appreciate that.”

Bottom Line: The company just purchased a massive Richmond office—its fifth move in six years— as rapid expansion continues. Sterling Floor & Tile has some 20 office employees and anywhere from 60 to 80 workers in the field every day. Clients have included Walmart, T&T Supermarket and Arc’teryx. Horwitz sees sales hitting $50 million in a couple years.