Tahir Zarif, aged 31, fled the UK on February 8, 2016 – five days after he and three other men raided the Direct Source 3 warehouse on Rea Street in Digbeth.
He stood trial last year, and was convicted of murder.
Birmingham Crown Court earlier heard how the raid went wrong as the gang threatened manager Akhtar Javeed, 56, ordering him to give up the company’s takings.
While staff were held hostage at gunpoint, Zarif led Mr Javeed from the office into the reception where he shot him in the leg as a violent warning to open the safe.
Mr Javeed tried to escape but was shot twice more at point-blank range.
He had managed to escape before stumbling across the car park to the pavement where he collapsed and died in a pool of his own blood.
The gang fled, but detectives painstakingly trawled CCTV to trace their movements in the hours before and after the robbery, corroborating the images with mobile phone data and ANPR captures.
Zarif will have to serve a minimum of 30 years in prison, the judge ruled on Thursday.
A jury heard in 2016 how one of the gang - a former disgruntled employee at Direct Source 3 - drew a plan of the warehouse so the robbers knew exactly where to go once inside.
Suraj Misty, 26, was handed a 23-year sentence for manslaughter.
Lamar Wali and Sander van Aalten, who was a former employee at the business, were both imprisoned for seven years and six years eight months, respectively, for conspiracy to commit robbery.
They were jailed for a combined total of nearly 40 years.
"You're a coward who has cruelly taken away my dad"
Speaking directly to Zarif the son of Akhtar Javeed said: "You’re a coward who has cruelly taken away my dad.
"My father was kind and genuine, all he thought about was caring and proving for his family, never about himself.
"I hope a day doesn’t go by that you don’t feel guilty about what you’ve done."
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