Shiraz Balolia, owner of Grizzly Imports, Woodstock, Shop Fox and countless other companies finally relieved!

Mr. Shiraz Balolia is one of my business heroes, along with Ron Popeil, Paul Akers of Fastcap, "Papa" John Schnatter, and several others. (Yes, I have business heroes, and it's perfectly normal.) What impresses me most about these men is that they not only started and operate successful businesses, but their unique approach changed their respective markets.

As for the title of this post, no, this isn't something salacious; it's just that if you've been a Grizzly Industrial, Inc. fan for any length of time you may have noticed that they have gone to great pains to conceal the likeness of the owner, Mr. Balolia. The photo at right is from the 2009 Grizzly catalog, and every time I see it I laugh. Another way that Grizzly plays "Hide the Founder" is that he is most often referred as S. Balolia.

Mr. Balolia's story is interesting in that he was born and raised in Kenya, moved to Canada, then later to the USA in Bellingham Washington. According to the Grizzly web site:

"In order to support his hobby of metalworking, in 1976, Shiraz Balolia began buying used metal lathes, rebuilding them and reselling them for a modest profit. Soon, customers began asking for other equipment including woodworking equipment. Since Mr. Balolia had never used any woodworking machines, he went to night school to learn woodworking only to realize that woodworking machines were a lot less complex than metalworking machines. When he contacted manufacturers of locally made machines, he was bluntly told that they were "not taking any new dealers". Thus, began the machinery importation business. What began as a hobby has grown into a "hobby" of mammoth proportions with Grizzly being one of the most sought after brands in the marketplace. Although totally immersed in running the company, Mr. Balolia still finds time to do metalworking and woodworking projects in the evenings that include some very intensely inlaid guitars (see them on this web site). He has a complete woodworking and machine shop in his home that includes CNC equipment and, essentially, his dream shop!

With over a million square feet of space at our three large distribution centers and showrooms, today Grizzly Industrial® is one of the largest woodworking and metalworking machinery companies in the world. Employing over 350 people nationwide and headquartered in Bellingham, Washington, Grizzly also has offices in Taiwan and China with our own engineering staff overseas."

One of the things that impresses me about Mr. Balolia is that he not only wanted to market to the Woodworker, but while he is at it he wants to sell to all the other folks who sell to woodworkers. This is why he founded Woodstock International to market small woodworking accessories, and later he launched the Shop Fox brand of stationary power tools. The Shop Fox tools were redesigned with advanced features, and are sold only through resellers.

Well, tonight it finally happened. While searching for new Grizzly news for this blog I stumbled across an article about the 2009 United States F-Class Open Rifle team and low and behold who happens to be the Vice Captain? That's right, it's our buddy Mr. Balolia! So ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly present the man, the legend, and my hero...

Mr. Shiraz Balolia!

He is the current Washington State Champion and holds several national records in F-Class shooting!

His other hobbies include saltwater fishing for salmon and halibut, crabbing, building guitars, metalworking and playing racquet sports, all of which take a back seat to shooting!

Nice to meet you Mr. Balolia.


  1. This man has given us great quality products for a reasonable price. He has also provided the same quality support. Many of the products are innovative and surpass what other companies make or import. Now if I only had a workshop like his!

  2. I bought a Hattori design junglee baby fighter and wrote there that handle design by Mr. Balolia. Probably he that Balolia. baz, Vancouver.Ca