Entrepreneur of the Year 2023: Thomas Martini is shaking up manufacturing with Apex Aluminum Extrusions

Langley-based Apex is expected to reach around $150 million in sales this year

The Kickoff: When it was time for Thomas Martini to move out of his childhood home in Langley, he simply bought a house across the street. And when he decided he was done working for his parents’ window fabrication business, he simply started a manufacturing company—Vitrum Glass Group—with his sister. “I realized that working within the family business was going to be a challenge,” he says with a smile. “I’m an independent person.” Still, becoming an entrepreneur so early in life was challenging at times: “Man, it’s a lot of learning. It’s trial by error, especially in learning how culture and team go together. And on the manufacturing and client side, it’s a lot of hours.”

Action Plan: In 2009, Canada brought tariffs and duties against China for dumping aluminum extrusions in North America. Martini saw some potential for consolidation in extrusions, which are used in everything from construction (railings, ladders) to electrical systems and transportation. “I went around the world and visited two of the top three extrusion companies: one in Greece, one in Austria,” he recalls. “It really inspired me to do it at a high-tech level, with automation and technology.” His second company, Apex Aluminum Extrusions, which he founded a year later, quickly became an industry leader. Of course, COVID’s supply shortages presented a momentous challenge, but Martini innovated through that, too, pivoting to domestic supply and ensuring no disruptions for his customers.

Closing Statement: Apex and Vitrum operate three facilities in Langley and one in Calgary, spanning over 500,000 square feet in total. The two companies employ over 700 full-time staff and largely serve western North America, including clients in Texas, California and Winnipeg. This year, Martini estimates, Apex will reach about $150 million in sales. “I’m a very hands-on, operator-type person,” he says. “It’s been my hardest discipline to not spend as much time on the manufacturing floor in the last number of years. I have great teams I’ve built; that’s what I’m most proud of. So I don’t spend as much time there as I used to.”

There’s a pause before Martini’s co-worker, who has been silent throughout the interview, makes her presence known: “But he still does spend a lot of time there.”

He laughs before fessing up. “Yeah, I just love manufacturing and making things.”


Do you have a most influential role model?

Tony Robbins has been a really inspiring figure in my life. I spent quite a bit of time with him over the last few years. He’s an amazing human—what he does for giving, knowledge and teaching is very inspiring.

Odd job you’ve had?

I worked at McDonald’s when I was 15. It was great training. It’s funny—my kids don’t like McDonald’s, but I still do.