At first, he wasn’t all that keen to do the story. “It shouldn’t be about me,” countered Andy Szocs, when I suggested he’d make an ideal candidate for an Alta States profile. And when I insisted, he just laughed. “There are far more interesting people in this valley to present to Pique readers,” he said. “Besides, who wants to read about some old guy promoting the benefits of giving?”
But the youthful 67 year old finally relented when I reminded him that if he didn’t speak out publicly, who would? “So — if I do this,” he said, “I want to make sure we don’t lose track of the message. OK?” Another self-deprecating chuckle. “After all, we all get taught in Grade 1 that ‘it’s better to give than to receive’. But some of us don’t realize just how powerful a message that is until we reach our 60s…”
Andy Szocs is a highly successful businessman from West Vancouver. Now retired, and living full-time in Whistler, Andy rose from humble roots in Flin Flon, Manitoba to become the founder and president of Norpac Controls Ltd., a process control firm that virtually dominates its sector of the business world. How dominant? When Szocs sold the company to his employees seven years ago, Norpac held a 70 per cent market share of its core business in B.C. and had annual gross revenues of $30 million. The company has also been included a number of times among the “50 Best Managed Private Companies in Canada” — one of the most prestigious business awards in the country.
“Retiring wasn’t easy for me,” he says. “I had to work hard at it. I still miss my people. Still miss the challenges. But life goes on.” This from a guy who admits he was a bit of a micromanaging boss. “I knew where every paper clip was in the office,” he says with an embarrassed smile.
But this was also a guy who planned his every move with meticulous care. “Back in 1990,” he tells me, “I told my people I was going off to Tofino for a month — and that I would be totally out of touch during that time.” He smiles. “While this was partly to start training my staff to take charge, it was really about training me to let go….” He says he must have dialled the office number dozens of time during his month away. “But I managed to put down the phone before hitting the final digit,” he says proudly.