Vision Extrusion Group
Vic De Zen introduced the vinyl window industry to the Canadian market back in the late ‘60s. Today, Vic De Zen has multiple state of the art facilities serving the North American market with PVC extrusions and building products such as column, fencing, railing, patio doors, decking and many more. Today, these businesses are located at the center of the Vaughan West Business Park, developed by ZZEN Group, which oversees De Zen’s real estate development.
“I landed in Canada on November 2, 1962 at 5pm, started working the same day and have not stopped working since,” remarks De Zen. At the age of 75, De Zen still oversees the business, and his son Sergio and grandson Colby are with him involved in the daily operations.
Vic invited us on a quick tour of Vision Extrusion’s plant, the crown jewel of the Vision Group. He walks swiftly through the front door and is quickly acknowledged by his team exchanging “hellos”, smiles, handshakes and even embraces. De Zen smiles enthusiastically, inquires about employee projects and converses about designs. He has developed a strong entrepreneurial culture as a core value of the company; the plant executives are equity shareholders and all employees are part of the company’s profit sharing programs. Employees move around with ease, they smile and wave at Vic as he enters the manufacturing plant. In this state of the art facility everything runs smoothly, is well organized and highly automated.
“Vic is a master tool and die maker who later became involved in PVC extrusion, so he has very strong capabilities within PVC extrusion space,” adds business partner Lu Galasso, “and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association recently recognized him for that with a Lifetime Achievement Award.”
As a trained tool and die maker, the Research and Development, and Quality Control departments are Vic’s favourite places. In the Quality Control room Vic points at the poster of a golden elephant with a raised trunk (the core logo of the Vision Group) and also a symbol of good luck (it must face east). Only the tip of elephant’s trunk is red, the print states 1/2 of 1% defect rate.
“It is all about the precision, quality, and customer service; no one can beat us at that,” states De Zen. “When a customer comes to us, we design the die and extrude a sample per their specifications, for free! Whatever the customer can imagine we can design. At Vision we produce our own raw materials, and manufacture all our equipment; it is all about the vertical integration, and we keep all the technology in-house, which gives us a tremendous edge.”
As we continue on the tour, we walk through rows of customized material handling systems where millions of pounds of bar-coded finished goods are stored. We step out of the rear door of the factory and face rows of 100-foot-tall galvanized steel silos shining in sunlight against the blue sky. Titanium Transport trucks, an affiliated company of the Vision Group, are lined up at the shipping area, where 70% of the products are exported to the United States.
ZZEN Group and Real Estate
But building an industrial empire was not enough. Starting in the late 1970s, De Zen acquired land across Vaughan, farm by farm, with an extraordinary vision for commercial and residential real estate development, and his success here has also been stellar. “Vic was certainly a catalyst for the transformation of the Township of Vaughan into the City of Vaughan, which today is a vibrant and prosperous city that enjoys status as one of the Top 10 cities in Canada in population, employment and per capita income growth,” says Joseph Sgro, general manager and partner.
De Zen’s real estate properties and projects are managed and operated by ZZEN Group. ZZEN Group, launched in 2001, was organized to provide planning, engineering, development, design-build, and property management services to De Zen’s significant land and building portfolio.
ZZEN is now one of the largest and most innovative land developer/design builders in Vaughan, having developed several hundreds of acres of land and having design-built over 15 million square feet of building space in Vaughan. “Vic’s vision for real estate and his uncanny ability to execute has set the frame work for ZZEN and its team of professionals to be creative and to be innovative in design and construction to attract leading corporate tenants and users looking to locate or relocate to and within the GTA. The Vaughan West Business Park, our feature business park, is the fastest growing business park in the GTA, home to over 1,000 companies employing over 25,000 people – we’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished under Vic’s leadership. The Vaughan West Business Park includes a great balance of corporate, industrial and commercial companies, including Adidas Canada, Conair-Cuisinart Canada, Vision Group, Sobeys DC, Intercontinental and Starwood Hotels, Anatolia Tile, Burnac Corporation, Universal EventSpace, and many more,” says Sgro.
ZZEN develops De Zen’s residential lands in partnership with top builders in the GTA and has built over 3,000 homes in many award-winning residential communities in Vaughan and the surrounding area. De Zen prides himself on strong, cooperative and respectful partnerships – with other developers, builders and with all levels of government. He continues to search out land opportunities and to grow his real estate portfolio with the same drive and passion he had when he acquired his first parcel of land over 40 years ago.
The De Zen family also has a significant presence within the community of Vaughan. Most recently, the family donated $10 million toward the new Mackenzie Health in Vaughan. The donation will be recognized with the naming of the hospital’s lobby the Vic De Zen Family Welcome Centre.
The family is also a major supporter of Meta Foundation, a charity devoted to individuals with special needs. The new Vaughan facility will be named The James De Zen Center of Abilities, in honour of De Zen’s late son who passed away in 2015.
As an energetic entrepreneur, De Zen and his sweeping vision have been widely recognized, and it’s no surprise that his vast contribution to Canada earned him the Order of Canada in 2002. “Canada is a great country, says De Zen. “I don’t think I would have been able to achieve what I did anywhere else. This is the land of opportunity, and I was very fortunate to be able to build what I did here. This is my home.”