Ryan Aberin owns Red Line Contracting & Consulting Ltd. He works with Toronto brands to bring their visions to life. He’s also a traveller, yogi and storyteller.
I met Ryan at a networking event in late 2016. There were a lot of people around, trying to pass their business card out to make a quick buck. Ryan was different. We had an actual conversation, about what we did for work and why. Today, we continue that conversation in the interview outlined below:
- Ryan, you are a contractor, consultant, traveller, yogi, photographer, blogger and entrepreneur. How on earth do you find time to do all these things?
My cell phone is pretty much my lifeline, without it I can’t run my business, answer emails, talk to clients and check my schedule. I use Microsoft Office 365 to manage pretty much everything. I spend Sunday nights planning my week and I do a lot of multi tasking. Some of my projects take place hours away from where I live, so I make use of the time making calls, ordering materials, talking to clients and such. On average, I only sleep four to five hours per day. It helps in trying to fit everything in!
- When we met at a networking event in mid December 2016, you told me that you were working in a corporate job before you realized that working for someone else in an office space was not for you. What lead you to this realization?
I realized what my potential was, and the power of freedom. I started my first business when I was in elementary school; it was just a side gig, helping with odd jobs around my neighbourhood to make extra money. Over the years, the projects I took on became more complex. It was in college when I realized that I wanted my own company.
As I got older, I began to run my business while working for someone else. I knew if focused on my business and applied what I learned in school, while also working with others, I could take my own projects to the next level. The challenge, however was in finding the time to do it all, while working for someone else.
In terms of freedom, I love being able to do what I want to do and when I want to do it. Being able to board a plane at anytime to take a vacation, being able to pop into a random coffee shop to get my work one and making my own schedule are all examples.
- You mentioned you quit your job and started travelling – where’s the coolest place you’ve ever been? Why do you think this place resonated with you?
The first solo trip that I ever took after leaving my corporate job. I went to Ireland!
- Quitting a job with steady income can be quite terrifying (though of course liberating). What steps did you take to ensure you would be somewhat stable once you left your place of work?
To be honest, I left my job at the worst time. I had just bought a house five months before leaving. It was not a good decision at the time. When I left my job, I hopped on a plane the next day and backpacked through Ireland for three weeks. I left everything behind and told myself that I’d figure it all out when I get back. I spent three weeks in Ireland sleeping in a car, driving around the country. The trip made me realize that living a simpler life was a lot easier and less expensive. When I got back to Canada, I sold bunch of stuff I didn’t need and cancelled subscriptions I had signed up for, but never used.
- How did you ensure you wouldn’t burn bridges with the company with which you worked?
The company I worked for understood what I wanted to do. A lot of the older employees told me that travelling at my age was the best time to do it and that they wished they had taken the opportunity, too. I was very close to the people I worked with and I keep in contact with them often, visiting them at work when I am in the area.
- Do you come from a family of ambitious creators and travellers? Where do you think your travelling and creating bug came from?
I have always been a creative person. I was that kid that played with LEGO every day. I enjoy working a lot with my hands, building, designing, taking stuff apart to see how it works, etc. I got it from my father who taught me everything I know about construction.
In terms of travelling, the bug kicked in while having lunch with a good friend. He told me about all these cool places he had been to and the wonderful experiences he had endured. I asked him if I could come with him someday. A couple of hours after eating, he found a deal for flights to South America, and we booked a trip.
- What was the first trip you ever took? Is there a certain memory that comes to mind when you think of this excursion?
The first trip I ever took was in November 2015. It was with a group of experienced travellers. We spent a month backpacking through Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. We spent five days camping and trekking through Patagonia, Chile. This experience made me realize what freedom really meant to me, and it led me to leaving my corporate job to see the world and focus on my business!
- When you’re not travelling, you are the owner and operator of Red Line Contracting & Consulting Ltd. When we met, you mentioned you work for a lot of really cool places in Toronto, helping them make their businesses paces of love! Please tell our readers which brands and companies you work for on the regular.
I work with Yoga Tree Studios, Afterburn Fitness and Rorschach Brewing Co. I help maintain their facilities and I also work with other organizations, providing them consulting to help get their projects off the ground. I also work with homeowners looking to complete renovations, repairs and additions. On top of all this, I work closely with other general contracting companies and assist them, where I can.
- Contracting work can be hard, especially when the winter comes and it’s slower. What do you do to fill the time, gain experience and motivate yourself?
When construction becomes slow, I take on maintenance work, like snow removal, and I do more consulting. I also tend to book travel during the winter months, while taking up various courses and training.
- What has been the most rewarding part about being an entrepreneur?
It’s just telling people that I am an entrepreneur. Also, when my parents tell their friends about me, they are happy to say that their son owns his own business.
- What tools or methods do you use to tell people and companies about the services you offer and how they can hire you?
I am the next generation of contractors, as a lot of the older contractors are retiring. I am also more high tech then the older generation. I use a lot of newer tools to get projects done faster and with a higher quality. I am able to provide my clients with models and drawings, so they know what they’re getting.
- Who, or what, has been your biggest motivation throughout this journey?
The biggest motivation throughout this journey has been the sense of accomplishment. I work 15 to 18 hours a day. I wake up every morning with a smile and go to bed just the same, looking forward to the next day. When I see a sign on one of my projects with my company logo and name on it, I am motivated to go further. Telling people about the projects I have worked on, and hearing them say, “I been there,” is such a good feeling.
- Is there someone who has been your biggest support since you ventured out onto your own path?
My parents have been the biggest support. They let me take over the garage and the backyard of their house when I first started out. My dad helped me to keep all of my tools and materials organized and my mom was there to ensure I was keeping myself fed and hydrated, especially on days when I worked from 6am to 10pm.
- Of course, as noted above, you also practice yoga. What about yoga do you love so much?
I started practicing yoga in 2014. There was new yoga studio that opened near my house, so I tried the place out and loved it. Construction takes a toll on your body and my back used to hurt all the time. After practicing yoga, I found that it benefited me both physically and mentally. I have also met amazing people from doing yoga, some of whom have become my best clients.
- Where do you practice, today?
I usually practice at Yoga Tree Studios throughout the GTA. In the summer, I do yoga in parks, with a group of friends
- What do you think is one of the most common misconceptions of the practice? Why do you think that’s so?
Social media shows all yogis to be super fit, but at the studio, there are people of all shapes and sizes.
- What exciting travel plans are in your near future?
I am going to Iceland for 14 days in September 2017. Here, I’ll be renting a car and driving and camping throughout the entire country. Then, in January 2018, I am heading to Singapore and Vietnam.
- What do you hope the future of Red Line Contracting & Consulting Ltd.?
I want to work with businesses and people who help run Toronto’s lifestyle scene, those who keep the people in that city active, fit and well fed.
- Is there anything else that you would like to share?
Never stop learning and invest in yourself. You won’t know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Ryan! Wishing you safe travels in all your upcoming adventures.