Matei Ghelesel

Forty Under 40 winner 2014:  President and owner, Sonic Enclosures, Age 36

Hired to oversee a Sonic Enclosures project, Matei Ghelesel was up front from the start.

He wanted to buy the company, and because he managed the delivery of 23 electrical houses for the Kitimat Modernization Project – a two-year, $17 million undertaking contracted by Bechtel – he made that clear to then-president Stan King.

“He was quite all right with that. In fact, he thought it was kind of funny.”

Only having joined the company in 2012, Ghelesel led a successful management buyout last year, becoming Sonic’s president, COO and majority shareholder. The rest, he said, has been “12 years and two minutes.”

Prior to Sonic – which specializes in electrical housing, mobile metal enclosures and industrial equipment servicing – Ghelesel ran his own engineering business.

Before that, he was a development engineer with Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee, which led to his being involved in major projects with the U.S. navy and OceanWorks.

During a stint in China working on a $2.8 million flow-battery system, he got a glimpse of the future.

“After living in China, I realized the companies that are making money now and are going to continue to benefit from all this green-tech stuff and renewable energies – battery systems, etc. – are ones that are electrically involved, not mechanically involved.”

Ghelesel has brought that mentality to Sonic and is adding to the company’s more than 40 years of projects by wiring things more electrically.

Based in Delta, he said Sonic is also poised to seize opportunities coming out of the province’s trades and LNG push. While wary to not lose sight of the smaller projects that add up to the sum of $15 million in annual revenue, he’s excited.

“I really believe in the trades. I really believe in product that is big and is heavy, and it can’t be emailed. And I think the economy needs a lot more manufacturing to be stable and to be solid. You can’t build an economy on Facebook and Twitter. So I’m really proud of the fact that this business is really blue collar.”