Entrepreneur of the Year 2023: Rayacom’s Austin Tran is making his mark on the printing industry

The print and packaging company has 12 locations across Canada

The Kickoff: Austin Tran was a second grader in Edmonton when he had his first brush with entrepreneurship—via selling his drawings of comic book characters to classmates for $2 each.

Flash forward to 2004, a year after Tran graduated in electrical engineering from the University of Alberta, and he had fully embraced the life of a business owner by building a printing company called Rayacom. “Digital printing was an emerging field back then,” he says, “because printing was done through old mechanical presses.”

Action Plan: Bad news came with COVID—Rayacom lost major clients in hospitality and travel. The good news? Tran is a problem-solver.

“I stumbled into Costco one day,” he says, “and I’m like, Wow, this place is still super busy. We need to target this industry.” So he bought equipment to convert printed paper into corrugated boxes and packages and started packaging goods for food manufacturers supplying to Costco, Walmart, Whole Foods and the like. One company ordered 5,000 boxes from Rayacom to try out. Their next order came in for 100,000 boxes, and then half a million.

“To take on these larger contracts, it’s about efficiency,” says Tran. To put that into perspective, Rayacom purchased Chinese machines that produce 100,000 pieces an hour instead of 10,000, effectively making it 10 times more efficient as a company.

And Tran’s knack for problem-solving doesn’t stop at work—he actually prefers replying to customers after hours. “Some customers respect you more and respond to you better when you message them at, like, midnight,” he says. “We landed some accounts just through late-night messages.”

Closing Statement: Supported by a team of 75, Rayacom is a print, sign and packaging company with headquarters in Edmonton and offices in 12 other locations in Canada including Vancouver, Calgary, Richmond, Burnaby, Kelowna and Toronto.


What would your co-workers say is your greatest strength?

Being able to problem-solve, being loyal and being independent.

What does success look like to you? 

The company is growing, the team is happy and we’re creating a product that the world needs.