Victor Agapov, Gvardia, LLC and Wallo Brands
IB's Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet the state's professionals. This week features Victor Agapov, owner of Gvardia, LLC and Wallo Brands.
Business Address: 9430 Lost Meadow Road, Middleton, WI 53562
Birthplace: Minsk, Belarus
Spouse/Partner’s Name: Julia Agapov, M.D. D.O.
Board Membership: MCSE
Victor, you started two businesses in 2011, one a wholesale importer of distilled spirits and then a contract manufacturing and distribution project featuring your own invention, Wallo round access panels. Today, what is your day-to-day role?
My current role is owner and chief executive officer for both of the companies. I am also a part-time systems administrator at ScheduleSoft.
How did you fund your businesses?
Are they gaining traction?
Wallo Brands will manufacture private-label access panels for Arzel Zoning, based in Cleveland. And Gvardia has announced a strategic partnership with Olympusat, Inc., the largest owner and distributor of Spanish-language pay television networks.
Great news! Who outside the firms has influenced your career the most, and in what way?
My family. I can’t pick just one person. I have to give that to all of the people around me as this is where I get all my much-needed support and inspiration.
You’re an independent person, starting businesses here with no prior business experience and coming from outside the business community. What is a long-range goal that you’d like to achieve before leaving your businesses?
Create nationally recognized brands with great customer appreciation for them. I’d like to use my career growth as an opportunity to learn more and share my achievements with the people around me.
When you were in high school, what were your career aspirations?
I wanted to be an architect.
Your very first paycheck: From where, how much?
I was about 13 years old when I got my first paycheck for 29 rubles from working for a month at a local dairy processing plant in the summer.
What did you do with it?
I gave it all to my parents.
Victor, you’re a long way from your home country. What brought you to the United States?
I came to the U.S. in 1996 as I was one of the recipients of Diversity Visa Program in 1995.
And how did you come to settle in Middleton?
My wife and I chose to come to Madison so she could join UW Health as an ophthalmologist.
Now that you’re here, what do you do “beyond the office” that brings you happiness or relaxation?
Actually accomplishing all the stuff on the day’s to-do list brings me satisfaction and relaxation. Spending time with my wife and kids brings me happiness, and cooking food and socializing with friends does the rest. And I like to collect different things.
What’s in your collection?
I collect coins, stamps, historic memorabilia, old transit tickets, and a few other things.
What is your favorite place to travel to and why?
I am a foodie, so I like going to new places, finding and exploring more less-known places to eat.
Do you read for pleasure? If so, what is a recent title that might give us the flavor of what you like to read?
I love reading, but lately have less and less time for real books. I consider myself a news junkie as I have to be on the top of everything that is going on in the world. The last book I read was 11/22/63 by Stephen King, and I like different genres depending on what mood I’m in.
Anything you’d be willing to share about your family life/partner/children/enjoyments/activities?
I am married and have two beautiful daughters; they both go to West Middleton Elementary and have pretty tight schedules playing competitive tennis, piano, and attending Madison Russian School on weekends.
What character in any sport, book, movie, or play would you most like to be identified with, and why?
I think that might be Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get,” and I love every piece of it!
List three words you think best describe you.
Patience, persistence, friendship.
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