Born in the Greek port of Kalamata, Apostolopoulos immigrated to Canada in 1969 with a suitcase, $50, and very little English. His first job was cutting up chickens in the back of a Toronto KFC. After a stint as a janitor, his entrepreneurial nature kicked in and he began soliciting his own janitorial clients, hiring former co-workers to help with the abundance of work. In 1978 he founded Olympic Plastics, a small factory making plastic bags, and soon was dallying in real estate; one of his first deals was the purchase of an empty parcel beside a General Motors plant that seemed poised to expand. He bought it with a partner for $1 million in 1988—and sold it to GM within a year for $3 million. His worldwide empire is now worth $800 million.
That is what the American Dream is: making it based on sheer determination. The enormous wealth at the end of the rainbow is not requisite, but providing for one’s self and family is beautiful. Excerpted from “Dome Sweet Dome” in BusinessWeek (Aug 2-8, 2010).