Thompson Rivers University

MBA takes alum to the top

March 5, 2024

Alum Chris Maydaniuk with his wife, Obe, and sons Maxwell and Rurik during a visit with Santa.

Several years ago, Kamloops-born company NRI 3PL went international. Shortly after, so did TRU alum Chris Maydaniuk (Hon BSc ’06, MBA ’07), who moved to Los Angeles from Kamloops in 2015.

“I started at NRI in customer service, which is an entrylevel position, and then I was fortunate to get a sales job pretty early on,” says Maydaniuk, who was recently named CEO, taking over for co-founder and long-time Kamloops community leader Peter McKenna, who transitioned to the role of executive chair.

Maydaniuk joined NRI — which he describes as a pick and pack operation — after receiving his MBA from TRU in what was the second cohort of the young program. He credits faculty members Paul Clark and Bernie Warren with having a positive influence on him during his MBA.

During his undergrad, it was Dr. Jonathan Van Hamme who sparked Maydaniuk to keep going through his studies in microbiology. While he excelled academically, Maydaniuk decided he wanted a career beyond the lab.

“I did a couple summers in the lab and realized it wasn’t where I saw myself, so I immediately thought, ‘Maybe I can apply this learning to get into the business side of things,’” he says.

After obtaining his MBA, Maydaniuk started a multimedia business covering motorsports events, a complete departure from everything covered in his undergrad. For several years, he worked to build his digital presence but eventually pivoted, starting his career at NRI in 2009.

While the entrepreneurial endeavour wasn’t as successful as he’d hoped, it did provide a learning experience that allowed him to travel extensively, opening his eyes to the world beyond British Columbia. That knowledge, along with his ambition and the right credentials behind his name, helped Maydaniuk earn a seat at the table among NRI’s leadership.

“I was able to engage with the owners of the company and have meaningful contributing conversations. If I didn’t have that TRU MBA, I probably wouldn’t have gotten as much attention from them as I did,” he says. “Not to say I was the only source of influence to get them to want to expand beyond Kamloops, but maybe I was that sort of young, educated resource that they could lean on to help make it happen.”

Growth leads to international opportunity

By 2011, the third-party logistics company was expanding outside Kamloops to the Lower Mainland and, within a year, NRI opened an L.A. operation. They soon realized they needed someone in place to lead their U.S. operations. Maydaniuk put his hand up to volunteer — with his wife Obe and infant son Maxwell joining the adventure.

The Maydaniuk family in sunny California.

The Maydaniuk family in sunny California.

Since then, the company has grown exponentially, expanding to multiple locations in the US and Canada. Maydaniuk’s family has also grown. Maxwell is now 10 and son Rurik is three. The family returns to Kamloops for visits, but after nearly a decade in the City of Angels, L.A. has become home. Maydaniuk admits building the company has been all consuming. NRI is now planning to expand to Europe and Mexico.

“It took us a lot of energy for a lot of years to get us to where we are. It’s been a whirlwind,” he says.

“It’s a pretty simple service in a lot of ways. But it becomes a lot less simple when we talk about the fact that it requires a lot of human effort.”

Luckily for NRI, people building is a specialty of Maydaniuk’s.

“The most rewarding part about what we’ve done, I think, is seeing that we have a couple thousand employees,” he says. “And that’s 2,000 folks that have families that are now supported under NRI’s business growth, and that’s exciting.”

Strong connection to TRU

Despite the incredible growth of the company stateside, much of the leadership team retains a Kamloops thread — and several of those count themselves as proud TRU alumni, including NRI’s vice-presidnet of sales Ryan Dale-Johnson, vice-president technology Sunny Bagri, client project specialist Angela Roe and systems integration manager Tess Meegan.

“It was founded in Kamloops and still has the original ownership. And 80 per cent of our executive team are OG Canadian, which is really cool,” says Maydaniuk.

He’s grateful for the chance to lead the team.

“They’ve allowed me to be the builder. I like to be on the people side, so I’ve been building the leadership team up for the last five years already. And this year is just sort of the nod that, ‘Hey, you’re doing a good job. So here you go. You can be CEO.’”

Related Posts