FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Vincent Fung
January 22, 2019
Who says business is tough in Calgary right now? It seems, not so for everyone. Let me tell you about Vince Fung and his company …
The business started and grew, then did a sideways shift/shuffle into new ownership structure - the Debian Information Technology firm came to fruition in 2000. “Business grew by word of mouth, building vendor relationships with Dell, HP and Lenovus – from me and one employee in 1997, to our staff currently 38 staff – Calgary, Sydney and Toronto.”
He describes his clients as ‘small to medium sized’ businesses though he admits to some ‘large ones too’ but he wouldn’t tell me who. He’s obviously proud and a bold marketer, but he isn’t a name-dropper. I liked that. The firm provides comprehensive services and lifecycle technology services, tech support including sales of computers and all related gear – with expectations of substantial growth across Canada with a view to U.S. expansion.
Toronto is his new frontier and growth there is commanding about 50% of Vince’s time these days. While reluctant to make predictions, his hope is to have a staff of 500 within the next 5 years.
His parents were born in China, lived in Hong Kong, worked in their own injection molding business – then immigrated to Canada, coming to Calgary in 1972. Vincent was born here in 1973. Schooled in Chestermere and Conrich, he describes himself as an average student with interests in badminton …
At the University of Calgary he obtained his B.Sc. in 1996, majoring in Electrical Engineering with a Minor in Computer Science ~ with distraction into car stereos and real-life jobs. His work, while in university, involved working in graphics software for seismic data – support and development of software for UNIX. Thus began a whirl of CAD video, cyberware, Windows NT, Windows XP and work with Microsoft which Vince describes as “luck, right place, right time”.
Along this business path Vince met Irina Selina (she’s in the posture, pain, fitness biz.) at his ballroom dance class – and from his description it is hard to separate his fascination with the ballroom dancing and Selina; they married in 2016 and have a son from her previous marriage.
Why are you successful? “I’ve always had a hunger for learning and pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I love making a positive impact on people. We help people use technology innovatively.”
What has held you back? “Trying to do too many things on my own. I’ve learned to not to be afraid to ask for help. For the past 15 years grown better by engaging and using outside help.”
How do you see your business – technology service for business – going forward over the next quarter?
… it is VERY good, but it could be better. We’re growing 45% a year for the past four years. We’ve found a way to make the downturn work for us – we’ve found new opportunities within this downturn.
And over the next five years?
… I see a big shift. Every business is going to be a technology business. Facilitating A.I. – creating more entrepreneurs everywhere …
What qualities distinguish your preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
… everybody likes to do business with people you like and trust – first, that is key. We rarely buy the ‘lowest price’. We look for companies we can grow and work with together – people we can stand with and stand behind each other.
What distinguishes you that causes people to choose Vince Fung/Debian, and why do they do business with you, why have they hired you, over your competitors?
… because they know Vince and his team are going to do everything to make it work …
How would you describe your leadership/management style?
… We want our people to fell we’re like a family – and we used to be very loose. I expect people to take risks, and to make mistakes within our culture of planning and strategic processes – we have an E.O.S. (employee operating system) that is serving our growth well. We have fun. Nerf wars sometimes erupt – we don’t want tension in the workplace. We do off-site retreats to pursue team growth and learning …
… I don’t believe in it. I believe in work/life harmony, and I believe I have it …
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
… the financial side of the business – it becomes a bigger and bigger risk to manage the more you grow. And cyber-security …
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… when I was 10 my Aunt Esther gave us a Commodore 64 as a Christmas Present and she was a mentor to me. [Debiant have funded the Esther K.Y. Chan Memorial Scholarship in her memory] and my dad and working with him, tagging along on his jobs; Robin Robins – an inspirational leader in our industry. His webinar taught me ‘you need to be more than tech – you need to learn how to sell’. Being a member of TEC Canada – Ken Larson and Todd Millar have made a huge impact on me. Jack Daly, a CEO coach. And Darren Hardy’s Hi Performance Forum and Insane Productivity Program.
… travel – we love cruises, especially if there is dancing! We represented Canada at the world championships in 2012 ~ we finished 26th out of 65 competitors.
What do you read?
… mostly business books. My ‘recommend’ is The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha. [ and Vince has also written a book – ‘Computers Should Just Plain Work – a guide for owners and executives’ – I don’t think you can buy it in a store, but Debian customers and interviewers can get a copy]
… 2018 BMW 540 – I took delivery in Europe; we put 4,000 km on the Autoban in 11 days …
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