NNYB: What future opportunities do you see in the north country?
MINAS: I see a lot of opportunities for manufacturers. Canadian manufacturers are servicing Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, where a lot of the population is. In Canada you have the majority of the population between Montreal and Niagara Falls, which includes Ottawa. If you are a manufacturer in Ontario you should be looking at Jefferson County and Watertown as a strategic location. I’ve told friends to come down and look at it. I know how much it’s costing me to move the product. I think there’s a lot of opportunity for Canadian manufacturers in the north country.
NNYB: What drives you to the success you’ve achieved? What keeps you going?
MINAS: At the end of the day, I just want to build something. We all want to leave a legacy. We want to leave something behind. In the paper industry, you love it or hate it. You are going to be in it forever or you’re going to get out as soon as you get in. I love the paper industry, that’s one of the reasons why I’ve stuck to this project. Money is good but doing what you like and working at something that makes you happy is more important. Money comes and goes. Today you make money, tomorrow you lose it. As long as you enjoy what you do in life. If I hear one businessman say they never lost money, then they’re not in business. When you’re an entrepreneur, there’s a little bit of gambler in there, you might win or you might lose. At the end of the day you have to take the risk.
NNYB: What is important to you in building your team?
MINAS: I’m looking for people I can work with, that are knowledgeable, and that are educated. That does not mean school-wise. There are a lot of educated and smart people that haven’t gone to school. I’m looking for someone that has conviction, someone that can say, ‘This is my opinion and I stick to it; I stand behind my thoughts.’ I’m pretty stubborn myself. But I want someone that can give me their opinion but justify why we should do it that way. I have taken chances with peoples’ ideas and thoughts and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. If you give me a valid reason we should do something your way, nine times out of 10 I will try it.
NNYB: What’s the best business advice you have ever followed?
MINAS: Do your job, whatever it is. It doesn’t matter if you’re a janitor cleaning toilets and that’s what makes you happy, do your job. I want to build something, that’s my job. It just happens to be the paper industry and the paper mill, but I’m doing my job. It’s simple but sometimes the simple things make more sense. It’s not elaborate but it makes sense. If you don’t like your job, find something you like and do your job.
NNYB: Are there hurdles to overcome as a Canadian moving and starting business in the U.S.?
MINAS: You have to get a visa and do the proper immigration procedures. But overall it wasn’t a very difficult situation. There was paperwork to be done but that was actually not as difficult as one would think. The project has merit and foundation and that was an exciting factor in my immigration decision.
NNYB: What do you do to unwind?
MINAS: Right now I don’t have a lot of time. I like to go to movies. I did the WPBS antique auction, I volunteered for that. I like volunteering. When I was at the WPBS antique auction I met sponsors from River Hospital in Alexandria Bay, I told them I’d go help volunteer for the polar bear dip. I like doing charity work on my off time and I believe charity should start at home. If people ask me to volunteer for raising funds outside of the county, I decline. It should start here. I know it’s great to help everybody in the world, but right now Canada and the U.S. have enough problems. If I’m going to volunteer my time I would rather help any charity in Jefferson County.