Greg Malpass grew up in Nelson, British Columbia, where his father worked as the town’s doctor. It was a great childhood, he remembers. His father had a great job.
So great, he thought, that when Malpass left Nelson after high school, bound for Vancouver and studies at Simon Fraser University, he planned to become a doctor.
“I was going to follow in my dad’s footsteps,” he said.
But things didn’t work out as planned.
Malpass was studying science but struggled in his first semester, finishing with a 1.54 GPA. He wanted to change to the business faculty, but his grades prevented him from making a simple switch. He needed the blessing of the dean.
After a meeting with the dean, Malpass was allowed to take select business courses, but only those that had space or in which the professor had granted him a seat.
The move, enrolment difficulties notwithstanding, proved to be the right decision for Malpass. He was active in the school’s business community – he was president of the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs – and has held a number of high-profile sales positions in Vancouver and Toronto since graduation.
But it has been his role as founder and CEO of Traction on Demand, a technology company that implements and coordinates cloud-based marketing strategies for its clients, that Malpass has found the most rewarding.
Malpass launched Traction on Demand in 2006 and was the company’s only employee for the first four years.
Since then, Traction on Demand has grown rapidly – the company now employs 75 people and lists large-scale firms such as Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers and Bombardier as clients. To make room for its expanding workforce, the company recently moved into a new, 22,000-square-foot office.
In addition to its list of high-profile clients, Traction on Demand also works regularly with non-profits such as the Vancouver Police Foundation and Take a Hike Youth at Risk Foundation, providing various technology services for free.
All in a day’s work, said Malpass.
Birthplace: New Westminster
Where do you live now: Anmore
Highest level of education: BBA, SFU
Currently reading: Awesomely Simple by John Spence
First CD bought or music downloaded: Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi (cassette)
When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: A sports medicine doctor
Profession you would most like to try: Welder or woodworker
Toughest business or professional decision: To grow. Starting Traction as a one-man show was low risk. I committed to growing the company “for real” at five people. Now, three years later, we are 75. We’ve done this entirely off our own capital. No investors. Bootstrapped – fast growth is intense
Advice you would give the younger you: Don’t second-guess yourself. Action always beats indecision, even if it’s wrong. Fail fast. Recover faster. Keep nimble so you can course-correct. Don’t hesitate to help people out. Good things come to those who are the first to help others
What’s left to do: A third child is likely. Ironman. BC Bike Race next summer. Learn to invert on the wakeboard before I turn 40. On the business front, I’d like to launch a software company under the Traction family and start investing in my staff’s incredible ideas. Continue to scale Traction and make it a top contender for Vancouver’s Best Company. Grow internationally. Would love to tackle welding at some point