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Eric Chouinard
Eric Chouinard

Eric Chouinard, 38, QUEBEC Add to ...

Eric Chouinard regularly arrives at work before 5 a.m. Those quiet hours of the morning give his mind time to wander into big-idea territory. He knows that once people start arriving in the office, fires need to be put out, decisions need to be made and creative thinking has less room in his schedule.



A little Zen time is in order. His company, iWeb Technologies, has been expanding at break-neck speed. More than 20,000 businesses around the world are clients, and iWeb provides them with off-site IT support and reams of technical infrastructure. Many of its clients are defined by their on-line activities and depend on powerful and reliable servers and knowledgeable 24-hour support in English, French and Spanish.



In 2009, iWeb earned $27.1-million in revenues, nearly doubling its gross take each year since 2004. That five-year growth was pretty well planned out. Mr. Chouinard is a big believer in having a long-term strategy and sharing it with his employees. And he draws out a lot of those plans during his quiet time.



It could come early morning in his office or on the grounds of his country home in the Laurentian mountains, north of the city, or even on a jaunt around the area around his office on Montreal's Nuns' Island. "All of my big decisions have been made during those times," he said. One of them had been the idea to take the company public in 2004, something that seemed to spur on the expansion.



He and partner Martin Leclair started the company in 1996 and have been able to regularly expand their business, even through the tech bust at the beginning of the decade, to the economic crisis of 2008.



Married with three children, Mr. Chouinard credits his wife, whom he started dating at 18, for turning around his life from one where he was failing in school to eventually running a company that is making important inroads in Brazil, Russia, India and China, among the 145 countries it serves.



But no matter what delegation he may be a part of or new data centre he is building, Mr. Chouinard finds his quiet moments out of the office so that he can help deliver better things inside his workplace. "When I'm outside, I'm inspired. I look at things in a different way."



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Editor's note: This is a corrected version of the story. A previous version had an extra unrelated line at the end of the story.

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