Former Sinclair Supply president led with a generous heart

Former Sinclair Supply president led with a generous heart

Dan Sorochan’s belief in people underpin his business and support for community

It was a bittersweet moment when, Dan Sorochan retired in 2016. After all, for 70 years, he dedicated his life to building Sinclair Supply Ltd., a company that distributes equipment and products across Western Canada to the heating, ventilating, air-conditioning (HVAC) and refrigeration industries.

When Sorochan, now 90 years old, first started with the company in 1947, he was just 19. The Edmonton company had modest operations based in the two-car garage of then-owner Walter Sinclair.

As Sinclair Supply grew, so did Sorochan’s appetite for the business.  The company moved into a new warehouse where over the years he took on various positions in sales, warehousing, delivering products and accounting. Not surprisingly, he was promoted to lead the company as general manager in 1953.   

When Walter’s son Bill Sinclair retired in 1972, Sorochan was quick to purchase the company. He spent the next 45 years transforming the business. Today, Sinclair Supply sells its products in 17 locations, spanning Winnipeg to Vancouver Island. The company has grown to 185 employees, and has expanded to include 2 sheet metal shops which manufacture custom work.

“Dan had an uncanny ability to open his new shops in locations that were ideally situated to meet the market’s needs,” says Paul K. Lachambre (pictured second from left below), current president and CEO.

Adding to that, Sorochan’s people-centred approach served as the driving force behind the company’s success by building strong relationships with employees, customers and suppliers alike.

Sinclair owner proud of his employees

Daughter Cindy Sorochan (pictured third from left below) says her father’s management of the company was characterized by the high value he put on others and their input. She recalls when he would come home after work and bounce ideas off family members, adding that he wasn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves or pick up a broom to get a job done.

"His door was always open and he was very generous with his time.”

Sorochan, seldom seen without a shirt and tie, was well known for his ability to hire good people, many of whom have been with the company for 30 or 40 years.

“He was always genuinely interested in people,” says Cindy Sorochan.

Daughter Kim Sorochan Jones (pictured first from left)  adds her father was proud of his staff.  “He cared for everyone. His door was always open and he was very generous with his time,” she says.

It’s no wonder that many of Sinclair Supply’s employees – and long-time customers – still ask about Sorochan. And many are quick to share stories of how their father helped them or gave them a job at a critical moment, showcasing his belief in giving people a leg up in life and the chance to learn.

Every year, Sorochan opened Sinclair Supply’s doors to provide Christmas dinner to customers and others who were hungry.

“Dan fed everybody,” says chief operating officer Ed Gugenheimer. “He just felt strongly about supporting the local community.”

Sorochan appreciated NAIT’s educational role

To say Sinclair Supply steadily supports education, food banks, hospitals and local causes would be an understatement. The company’s long list of donations all point back to Sorochan’s respect for people and the industry upon which he built his career.

Over the years, Sorochan has played a key role in HVAC education by supporting the HVAC Institute of Canada, the RAPP program and Careers: The Next Generation. He also supported polytechnics SAIT and NAIT to support the educational opportunities for students and apprentices in HVAC and sheet metal.

“I don’t know of a finer place than NAIT to educate and maintain the workforce in our industry.”

Celebrating 60 years of business, Sinclair Supply contributed one of the company’s largest donations to NAIT since its first gift in 1989. That support has nearly doubled to more than $240,000 towards scholarships, gifts-in-kind and facilities, including building environment systems technology related programs.

NAIT’s ability to educate HVAC and sheet metal students has grown two-fold, thanks in part to Sinclair Supply. When Sorochan presented the NAIT with the cheque back in 2006 with a donation celebrating Sinclair Supply’s 60th anniversary, he says his reason for supporting was simple.

“I don’t know of a finer place than NAIT to educate and maintain the workforce in our industry.”

NAIT is proud to celebrate the success of Essential: The NAIT Campaign. Thanks to thousands of donors, we raised more than $100 million for student success, applied research and campus development. In appreciation, NAIT is sharing 100 reasons how donors are having an essential effect on our campus and the community. nait.ca/EssentialEffect.