The interview is hosted by Jason Boudreau and published in Iconic Concierge, Summer 2023
Welcome to the summer edition of Creating Impact, it’s great to be back and I hope this finds you and yours doing well and excited for the season we wait all year for! In preparation for this edition, I had the pleasure of spending some time in conversation with visionary entrepreneur and philanthropist, Amar Doman, President & CEO of The Futura Corporation. I first met Amar a couple of years ago on the football field, as our boys are teammates on a spring flag team. Through our conversations over time, I’ve learned more and more about his journey, and I am grateful he was willing to take time from his packed schedule to share his story for this edition. I am excited to share this candid conversation about Amar’s journey and the transformative impact he has in both business and the community.
The Doman family’s journey can be traced back to the early 1900s when his grandparents embarked on a voyage from India to the UK. However, destiny had a different plan for them, and they eventually found themselves in Canada, first landing in New Westminster and finally settling on Vancouver Island. Amar’s grandfather, Doman Singh, worked as a logger, enduring the challenges of manual labour to provide for his family. Despite the hardships, they persevered, and the family grew, with Amar’s father and uncles shouldering the responsibility of supporting their loved ones.
Education was a luxury, and Amar’s father became the first member of the family to graduate high school. He joined the family business, which began as a humble trucking venture collecting wood scraps for firewood. As the business expanded, the three brothers invested their hard-earned money to acquire a sawmill, steadily building an enterprise that would thrive for years to come. The Doman family became an integral part of the forestry industry on Vancouver Island, contributing to its growth and development.
Amar, the youngest of two siblings, was born in Victoria, where his father had established a division of the lumber business. Growing up surrounded by the lumber mills and the family enterprise, Amar was introduced to the industry at a young age. Under his father’s guidance, he gained firsthand knowledge of the operations, working on machinery, stacking studs, and loading trucks. “We just hopped in the truck with Dad and off we went. It was awesome. I miss those days, and I certainly wouldn’t trade that sort of education for anything”.
Following his graduation from high school, Amar made a pivotal decision that would ultimately shape his destiny. Instead of pursuing post-secondary education, he chose to channel his entrepreneurial spirit, and at the age of 18, armed with a burning ambition, a clear vision, and a $10,000 loan from his mother, Amar started his own lumber remanufacturing company in Victoria.
With three employees by his side, Amar embarked on his entrepreneurial journey. He recalls the early days, juggling responsibilities, answering phone calls while working on the production line. The challenges were abundant, and so were the rewards. As the sole owner of his company, Amar experienced the thrill and satisfaction of owning a thriving small business at a young age. “I’ve always had that sort of independent streak in me that I just wanted to do it on my own.” It was a testament to his resilience and determination.
1990 became a pivotal year for Amar. Presented with an opportunity to acquire a struggling forestry company in Vancouver, he took the plunge and moved to the bustling city overnight. With focus and relentless effort, Amar turned the company around and soon expanded his business portfolio by purchasing a competing firm. Despite skeptics who doubted his ability to take on such challenges at a young age, Amar’s unyielding commitment and the values instilled in him by his father paved the way for success.
As the late 90s and early 2000s unfolded, Amar faced new milestones and opportunities. He acquired CanWel Building Materials, which was struggling at the time and presented significant challenges. However, with his trademark determination and the support of banking partners who believed in his vision, Amar successfully turned the company around and eventually took it public in 2004. This marked a turning point for him and his team, providing tangible equity ownership for employees and expanding the company’s horizons.
The significance of the “Futura” name, holds a special place in Amar’s heart. Inspired by his father’s small development company, Futura Developments, Amar adopted the name for his own company, The Futura Corporation. The sentimental value and connection to his father make it a cherished part of his entrepreneurial journey. The enterprise now spans North America, with over 4,000 employees and revenues that cleared $3 billion in 2022.
Amar’s family life started to evolve in his 30s when he met his now wife, Natallie. They married and had three children, which Amar considers true wealth. “It was the first time I felt fully wealthy,” shared Amar,” being wealthy in a bank account is one thing, but when you’ve got healthy children and a strong marriage – that’s all you can ask for”.
A strong family and its values play a crucial role in Amar’s life and vision for the future. He believes that parents should assist their children in navigating their starting point and determining their own path. Amar encourages his children to choose a vocation or profession they are passionate about and to start gaining practical experience early on. “One of my children is already working at a young age. And he’s doing well, and he seeks to work, which is great”. Through instilling strong values and work ethic in his children, Amar ensures that they are equipped to make their own mark in life while appreciating the family’s achievements and aspirations.
One of Amar’s proudest moments in his life was his introduction to the BC Lions football team after he acquired the team in 2021, from the late David Braley’s estate. “I was standing there and that was one of those moments I’ll never forget. They’d stopped the whole practice. It was one of those few moments in life that’s just etched in your mind”.
For Amar, owning the BC Lions is not just about growing the fan base or personal achievement, it is an opportunity to re-engage the entire football community. He believes in the power of sports, particularly football, in helping kids develop valuable skills and fostering their personal growth. Amar’s vision for the BC Lions extends beyond the boundaries of Vancouver. He is determined to make the BC Lions more than just a football team—it is a symbol of provincial pride, shared values, and the power of sports to bring people together.
Amar’s commitment to inclusivity and community involvement is evident in his efforts to make the BC Lions more accessible. He has worked closely with TSN and the CFL to schedule games at more convenient times, allowing fans from Vancouver Island and other regions to attend without the burden of expensive hotel stays or late-night travel.
Actively involved with his own children’s football teams, including coaching, Amar encourages young individuals to embrace empathy, kindness, and integrity as they navigate their journey through life. Through instilling these values at a young age, Amar believes that they can cultivate a future generation of compassionate and impactful citizens who strive to make a positive difference in the world.
Amar urges young minds to be independent thinkers and to stand up against peer pressure, even when it’s challenging. He emphasizes to his own kids, the importance of recognizing that not everyone is fortunate enough to have what they have. “If there’s a new kids in your class, reach out, put your hand out, welcome them. That’s the type of citizens I want our kids to be – to help others and just be that good person”.
With a big heart for the community, Amar and Natallie have been meaningfully contributing to causes such as the CKNW Kids’ fund and Heart and Stroke Foundation for many years. In the context of philanthropy, Amar shared that he believes the term “giving back” is often overused, and instead, he sees it simply as just giving, without expecting anything in return. Amar believes that when one has achieved a certain level of success, it is important to share that success with others. “There are so many different things we’ve been doing for years and to me it’s just an automatic thing to do. When you’ve done okay, and you can share, share”. Without anticipating any reciprocation, Amar finds fulfillment in witnessing the happiness of a child or the positive impact of a life-saving operation. For him, these acts of giving are intrinsic to his purpose, as he questions the true meaning and purpose behind all his accomplishments.
Looking ahead, Amar expresses his intention to continue building and pushing boundaries. Retirement is not on the horizon for Amar, and he plans to stay actively engaged in the business he loves. I’ll eagerly anticipate the future chapters in Amar’s story, knowing that his entrepreneurial endeavours and his passion for the BC Lions will continually intertwine and evolve, creating a legacy that leaves a lasting impression both in our beautiful province and well beyond.