Skip to main content
master franchise

Master Franchise in Focus – Shafiq Mohamed and the Art of Working Smart…and Hard

It’s scary running your own business, but there’s something romantic about it, too. The late nights. The rush of adrenaline as you race the clock to nail down a deal and keep the cash flowing. Wondering if you’re going to be a big success or someday be full of regrets.

Having recently bought his own Stratus Building Solutions Master Franchise based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Shafiq Mohamed is going through all of that now.

“If you had asked me a month ago, if I was glad I had joined Stratus, I would have hesitated,” Shafiq admits, chuckling. “If you ask me today, yes, I’m very glad.   Things are picking up, and FAST! We literally brought on three new Unit Franchisees yesterday!”

It’s probably appropriate that Shafiq Mohamed became a Master Franchisee for Stratus Building Solutions. After all, for years, he has been building his career, slowly but surely, and he is a very solutions-oriented business person. As for the Stratus part… well, you can only take these analogies so far.

Shafiq, 52, got his start in the restaurant industry. He worked his way up to operations and area manager at Cara Operations (now Recipe Unlimited Corporation), which overseas several restaurant chains, including Swiss Chalet, which was where Shafiq was focused. He stayed with that for 12 years before taking on a couple jobs until he became a franchise owner with Fully Promoted, which used to be called EmbroidMe (nothing stays the same, does it?), which offers branded products and marketing services.

Shafiq ran the business with his wife, Monika Lapinski, and things were going well. But then one day, Shafiq was approached by Stuart Erskine.  Erskine, a former Canadian-based master franchisee for EmbroidMe, had taken over as the driving force behind Stratus Buildings Solutions Canadian expansion. Erskine wanted to know if Shafiq would be interested in becoming a Master Franchisee for Stratus Building Solutions territories throughout Ontario.

“I wasn’t that interested because EmbroidMe was doing well, and if it’s not broken, why fix it? So I left it at that,” Shafiq says.

But he started doing research on Stratus and discussed it more with Erskine and started rethinking his stance. “What I like about Stratus and being a Master Franchise is that I can help others grow their businesses. They can take the Unit Franchise opportunity and I can help them succeed. I’ve spent 30 years in the restaurant business, helping people become managers and managers become owners. It’s bred in me to help others.”

There were other elements that attracted Shafiq to Stratus Building Solutions, however. For one, he liked the idea of continuing to advance his own business and career and possibly – if they were interested – bringing in a second generation to the family business when his sons were older. (Justin Lapinski and Zachary Lapinski are ages 22 and 17, respectively.) Ultimately, for now, Shafiq and Lapinski decided that she would focus on running and growing Fully Promoted while he would throw his energies into launching/building Stratus Building Solutions.

So, Shafiq told Erskine that they were in, and Shafiq and Lapinski became the Master Franchisees for Hamilton and Burlington, Ontario. Shafiq hired four employees, including a sales manager, and for the last four months, there have been the aforementioned ups and downs – and in general, while he ramps up, the days are full.

Shafiq says that a typical day often starts with waking up early (very early) and heading to spin class at 5:30 a.m. Then, he generally will work on Fully Promoted from 7 to 9 a.m., and for the rest of the work day, be involved with Stratus – sometimes wrapping up his evenings by helping new Unit Franchisees tackle cleaning projects.

It obviously isn’t always a glamorous life, but Shafiq is excited about what’s ahead. “While I’m getting the business going, I’ve become the accountant, the lawyer, the sales person, the trainer – and the cleaner,” he says, laughing. “All of them. But I know that at the end of the day, this is the right path we’re on.”

He says that one thing he has loved has been the freedom Stratus has given him to grow his business with a work-life balance he’s always desired. Yes, he sounds crazy busy, but Shafiq says that unlike some of his previous occupations, such as when he was an operations manager for a Tim Hortons, he now gets to choose how he spends his time.

In fact, incredibly, he finds the time to be a Rotarian in Burlington, sit on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters in Hamilton, Ontario, as well be the chair of the new membership committee at the Burlington Chamber of Commerce.

Furthermore, as demanding as his schedule is, Shafiq says, “Thanks to Stratus, I’ve had far more time for family life, which is very important to me. When you’re the general manager of a 24-hour doughnut restaurant, you’re on call every minute.”

Now with weekends free, and his schedule fluid, but flexible, Shafiq may still occasionally wield a broom, but like all business owners working to improve their bottom line, he believes that before too long, he will really clean up!

Are you ready to take control of your future as a business owner, like Shafiq Mohamed?   Does the Stratus Building Solutions franchise opportunity sound like it could be for you?   If so, learn more at