For decades, the business press has covered and glamorized the entrepreneurs and founders of such high-tech companies as Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Google.
These companies operate on the cutting edge of new developments in technology. They have changed the economy by disrupting older business models. However, as much as we honor Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and other such pioneers, we must also acknowledge they owe some of their success to swimming with the current, not against it. That means computers were inevitable. Computer technology would have advanced with or without these great leaders.
Really great leaders recognize and use opportunity in older businesses such as manufacturing freight railroad cars. That’s what Gregory James Aziz did. In 1999 he raised the money to buy National Steel Car, a Canadian company with a history of over one hundred years of producing freight cars for the railroads that built Canada and the United States. He transformed it into the leading manufacturer of railroad freight cars in North America.
When Gregory J Aziz took over, the company employed just 600 people. It produced just 3,500 cars per year. Since then, it has grown to 3,000 people making over 12,000 freight cars every year.
Greg Aziz was born in London, Ontario, Canada in 1949. He attended Ridley College, and graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a degree in Economics. In 1971, after graduating, Aziz joined his family’s wholesale food business, Affiliated Foods. He helped his family grown Affiliated Foods to a leading importer of fresh foods. He took foods from Central America, South America and Europe, and brought them to wholesale markets in Eastern Canada and the United States.
No doubt the experience is transporting fresh foods across continents made James Aziz acutely aware of the importance of keeping those foods fresh. He learned what forms of both sea and land transportation worked well and which methods did not. He learned as a customer of transportation companies how much his family’s business depended on depended on keeping goods fresh while in transit over thousands of miles. Read This Article for related info.
Aziz went on to practice investment banking in New York City. In 1994, he arranged for the financing to purchase National Steel Car from its owner, Dofasco.
Today, Aziz’s company not only has a high reputation for quality and innovation, it is the only freight car company in North America certified ISO 9001:2008. And it has held that honor for the past 18 years.