Arash Vahdaty

Top 40 Under 40 2014

Photography Curtis Comeau

Age: 38

Job Title: Owner/President, Modern Kitchens and Closets, Tristate Homes and NAVA Cabinet Solutions

Why He’s Top 40: He strives to show Edmonton just how generous the construction business can be.

How I Relax: “Golf. I just love shutting down and being out there on the course. But I do feel guilty when I take a few hours off, because I’m such a bad golfer.”

It was a few days before Christmas in 2013 and Arash Vahdaty had just completed a home for Habitat for Humanity. After meeting the needy family at the new digs, he was taken by the sights and sounds of the kids running through the hallway, exclaiming, “That’s my room!” and “I’m taking that one!” Overwhelmed by that moment, Vahdaty basked in the feeling as a reminder that building houses can create experiences a lot more rewarding than revenue streams.

“I just kind of melted away,” said Vahdaty, who’s married with a 16-month-old son. “My son is fortunate to have what he needs and I’m
so happy to be able to give something like this back to the community and see these kids have a home of their own.”

That moment was an emotional payback, for Vahdaty, who left his lucrative engineering job at LaFarge Construction to become an entrepreneur in 2007. After starting a cement-mixing company, which he sold two years later for a tidy profit, he founded Tristate Homes at a time when the global economy was in a tailspin.

“It does seem scary at times,” admits Vahdaty. “I’ve grown up with the notion that an entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.”

Even during the downturn, Tristate did well, having since doubling its output of homes every year since 2011. He’s since added Modern Kitchens and Closets and NAVA Kitchen Solutions to the list of businesses he owns. His schedule is also replete with community responsibilities involving Habitat, Hope Mission and CASA – a foundation that focuses on child and adolescent mental health.

Vahdaty believes there’s a strong connection between his industry and the need to support his community, especially young people. “Kids are our foundation. It’s like building a home. If you don’t have a strong foundation right from the ground up, the house is going to fall apart.”

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