In a world where we are constantly reminded that the majority of business owners are over the age of 35 and the only avenue to enter the corporate world is almost always through the bottom, it is refreshing to see young people who are motivated and actively chasing their dreams. This is where you meet Greg Wallis, a Vancouver Island native with a knack for attacking the backboard. Greg was a two time Canada West All-star while he attended Simon Fraser University (SFU). Though his basketball talents were great in their own right, his company Passion Sports (2005-present) is what Greg is most proud of. Passion Sports lives by the motto, “PS- I work harder” which gives a certain attitude to the company. This attitude of ambition and drive can be seen from the kids attending PS youth academies all the way up to the Director in Greg. We at CAVE want to celebrate young success, especially with those individuals who are goal orientated, and give back to the community. We contacted Greg because of this, and he let us in on a bit of his story and how Passion Sports came to be where it is today.
CAVE: PS was started in 2005, what inspired the creation of the company?
Greg: A Camosun teammate and I were hired in the summer to coach basketball camps for young kids at a Victoria Rec Centre. During one of the camps, after giving a speech on the benefits of Hard Work and following your Passion, we suddenly had the idea to turn that same message into a run of t-shirts! We were extremely ambitious and began taking pre-orders and collecting payment from our friends before the shirts were even finished. All in all, we only ordered and sold 25 shirts that summer (the summer before I came to SFU), but we felt like we were really on to something. Each summer we did larger and larger clothing orders and soon we were running our own basketball camps as well.
CAVE: The Slogan, “PS – I work harder” is something that can be carried away from sports and brought off the court into everyday life. Do you attribute Passion Sports success to the fact that you are working harder than your competition?
Greg: Great question. Even though I Work Harder originated from a sports background, it will always apply to everyday life for me. The work ethic that we learn as athletes can pay huge dividends within our professional lives as well because most of the time the guy that is willing to work the hardest for a given job, contract, or deal will be the one who gets it. I can definitely credit a good chunk of PS’s success to the work ethic that we bring to the office each day.
CAVE: You attended SFU, while competing on the Varsity Basketball team…How did you find time to build Passion Sports and what advice would you give to aspiring young entrepreneurs?
Greg: Because I didn’t have much time while going to school the majority of work was done in the summer. There would be the occasional thing that came up throughout the school year and most of the time I would put homework and studying on hold to get PS work done first. It wasn’t until I left SFU in 2009 and devoted my full energy to the company that things really started to take off.
My advice to aspiring young entrepreneurs would be for them to keep an open mind about opportunities and ideas, and trust their gut instinct.
CAVE: Not everyone is a College athlete, how does PS cater to the ‘everyday’ guy who works out 2-3x a week?
Greg: Our goal is to inspire everyone to become more ambitious. I think that everyone out there has something that they want to achieve, so if we can inspire the everyday guy to adopt an “I Work Harder” mentality then the brand has succeeded.