With his education in chemical engineering, Stephen Kitras had not expected a path which led him to building a successful international glass blowing business here in Southern Ontario. The owner of Kitras Glass and a local councillor, recently met with the PoliTalk group in Fergus to share his business story and his views on growth in our region.
Kitras described how his start as a one man glass blowing studio some 25 years ago grew to a multi million dollar family business employing more than forty people. And although his story seems unique, the elements of creativity, willingness to take risks and a lot of relentless hard work were obvious and likely shared by most successful entrepreneurs.
And Stephen provided insight into other ingredients in his business success. A Federal start up loan helped with initial capital requirements. Skilled labour, including master glass blowers from overseas, continues to be critical. And
export markets, especially in the US, dramatically increased growth opportunities. With that growth came the need for more industrial space, not an easy challenge. Recent involvement of Steven’s son and daughter in the business have created new excitement and opportunities for Kitras Glass.
Asked what would bring industrial growth and high quality tech jobs to our region, Stephen reiterated the above ingredients which helped him. He also emphasized the need for more industrial land, more equitable commercial taxes and an industrial hub able to mentor start ups and actively attract high tech businesses to our communities.
At times passionate, emotional and always community oriented, Stephen’s story and insights generated much thought and many questions from those attending. But the question of whether our region will succeed in cultivating high quality industrial growth and jobs remained unanswered for now.
PoliTalk is a progressive monthly discussion forum sponsored by Liberals and friends in Centre Wellington.