Luke Evanow is the kind of guy who likes to be in control.
But for a period of his life immediately following the 2008 recession, Evanow faced a mountain of uncertainty.
The president of Pacific Restaurant Supply was dealing at the time with the economic downturn while taking over the business from his father. Evanow was also facing a cancer scare.
“It was a really, really hard period of time and there was a lot of uncertainty, and a lot of hard days where there were treatments and sick days,” said Evanow, whose trio of businesses design and supply many of the top kitchens, restaurants and cafés around the Lower Mainland. “Looking back on it now, I feel so fortunate to get through it and I just appreciate the balance that I have now.”
Now healthy, Evanow recalls “off and on hospitalization, under constant medical supervision” at a time that he and his father were not on the same page. “I wanted to grow and create business, and he was kind of wanting to maintain and not invest in the future.”
But Evanow bought out his father and partnered with his brother Jason Evanow and vice-president Jason Gilron. Together they decided to pump more money into the business.
Pacific Restaurant Supply has tripled its business in the last five years and doubled its staff in the same time period. It now employs 47 people.
Evanow considers himself a natural leader. “As I get more mature in my business life, I like the idea of building a team,” he said. “I love figuring things out and I love leading. I always had this fascination with politics.”
In Grade 7, Evanow won a junior politician award and the chance to meet Liberal heavyweights Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin. They took the SeaBus downtown from North Vancouver and spent the day together on their campaign trail. “It was a pretty neat day,” he recalled.
Looking back, Evanow said, he can see how certainty emerged from the period of struggle.
“It was challenging but clarifying,” he said. “It was one of those things where I always knew that this is the company that I wanted to grow, and it really reinforced the relationships with the people … who stood by me.”