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Century-old Trijan Industries continues to keep it all in the family

New owner just happens to be the fourth generation to run it
Doug Slipacoff at Trijan Industries.

One of Sarnia’s longest-running businesses has a new owner, and he just happens to be the fourth generation to run it. 

Doug Slipacoff closed the deal to own Trijan Industries Ltd, a scrap metal business, on a day he won’t ever forget, February 29th, 2024.  

“We looked at a couple of different options and decided the next best step was for me to purchase the business and carry the mantle forward,” says Slipacoff. 

With Slipacoff’s official first day as owner this past March, he’s actually been with the company in some capacity since he was 19.  

“Over the years I’ve bounced from role to role and moved up the ladder learning all of the ropes, the different parts of the business and the industry. And I would say when I was 35, about five years ago, I was running, for the most part, all the daily operations,” Slipacoff tells the Journal.  “Now with my father retiring I’ve assumed the lead role so I’m doing a lot more, but it’s all good.”

And while he was never pressured to take over the family business, it ended up working out that way. 

“I don’t know if we really had a plan,” laughs Slipacoff. After graduating from university in 2008 and with job prospects looking slim in a recession, Slipacoff's father, Lawrence, suggested he come home and work at Trijan until he figured out his next step. “In my mind, I was coming home for a year or two max to figure out what’s next for me and I just got involved in the business and obviously I’ve never left.” 

Slipacoff’s family immigrated to Canada and has been in the scrap metal business ever since. 

“Our family, when they immigrated here, came through Ellis Island and then to Ottawa and eventually came down to Southern Ontario for what I can only assume is the oil boom,” explains Slipacoff. “Whether it’s folklore or fact, he [my great-grandfather] started in 1917 going around to oil rigs and job sites picking up metal and from there, it has evolved into our family business and in 2024 here we are still operating.”

Sarnians are a testament to Trijan’s longevity for a particular reason, says Slipacoff. 

“I think Sarnia is a big enough city that you can sustain a business like ours, but it’s also a small enough city that reputation, word of mouth, and longevity matter. We’ve been around for so long, I get people in here saying I used to deal with your grandfather."

Having grown up in Sarnia, and now owning a business in Lambton County, it’s a community that has meant a lot to Slipacoff, who is now raising his four-year-old twin boys here alongside his wife, Christina. 

“I love Sarnia, it’s where my kids are growing up and going to school and I want them to have the opportunities that everyone else has had growing up here,” Slipacoff says. “I like to think we put our money where our mouth is and reinvested back into our community. And I think people hopefully recognize that or appreciate that and want to support local businesses that give back.” 

As for whether or not he wants his twins to be the fifth generation to run the business, Slipacoff has the same approach as his father before him. 

“Honestly I don't think my dad ever had any preconceived notions that I would be in the business. He certainly never pressured me to get involved -- it was always if I wanted it,” says Slipacoff. “I am certainly not going to push my kids to follow in my footsteps…who knows where we are going to be in 20 or 30 years by the time they might even be ready to think about it. If things worked out, I’m not against it, but I’m not going to push anything that’s not there.” 

For now, Slipacoff has a great team working with him, some of whom have been around since he was a boy. 

“We have some guys that have been working for our family for 30-plus years. I’m 40 so for a lot of these guys some of them remember when my mom was pregnant, or when my dad brought me here when I was a little boy,” says Slipacoff. “I know they appreciate we kept it in the family. And for me, I felt a responsibility to our staff, we know they depend on us for a job and we depend on them to help us keep our business running. So, another motivating factor for me to want to take over was to make sure our employees are going to get looked after the way we’ve always done it.” 

While a family-run business is becoming rarer and rarer, Slipacoff is optimistic for the future. He's taking things one day at a time and focusing on what Trijan does best -- all while remembering those that came before him.

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