Elroy Gust of Newlook Capital. Photo, Lia Crowe.

Elroy Gust of Newlook Capital. Photo, Lia Crowe.

Boulevard: Newlook life

Elroy Gust finds the perfect work-life balance

  • Oct. 15, 2020 9:41 a.m.

~Toby Tannas~

Photos by Lia Crowe

From his home tucked in Kelowna’s south slopes, overlooking Okanagan Lake, Elroy Gust lives and works with gratitude for the life he’s crafted. Getting to where he is today did not happen by accident. From the very early days of his career, this CEO had a clear vision of where his path would lead.

“This is just where I always saw myself,” says Elroy, referring to his drive for success—something cultivated in his humble Manitoba farming family roots.

Happily married with three grown children, he’s founder, president and CEO of Newlook Capital. The private equity firm is based in Ontario but now more than ever, Elroy manages Newlook from his home office three time zones away.

“I don’t mind the schedule, a lot of people in Kelowna have this schedule. You roll out of bed and by 6 am you’re on your first call. Then by about 1:30 to 2:00 pm your phone stops ringing because the work day is over back east. I really like the lifestyle.”

Elroy’s home office didn’t always boast lake and mountain views. For more than 30 years, he enjoyed the hustle and bustle of city life. From his start in the commercial lending department of a Lower Mainland bank, to buying and selling multiple companies, to founding Newlook Capital, Elroy has learned important lessons every step of the way.

“With my first job as a commercial lender, I started to understand how things work from a lending perspective,” he explains. “When I worked with my dad and my brother, we had a warehousing-logistics business in Toronto. I grew it, became president at 29 and then, when I turned 30, I decided it was time to sell and I made my first million.”

That taste of success—of building something with your own grit, determination and wherewithal—ultimately spurred Elroy to form Newlook Capital. Over the course of a decade, the company has grown to more than 700 employees in both Canada and the United States. Newlook owns more than a dozen companies and continues to have very active and strategic acquisition plans.

“This year we will buy another four businesses and I would say we’re talking to about 15 in total right now.”

Elroy has removed himself from daily operations, by design, working on select projects and dealing directly with the executive management team.

“The business will continue to grow,” he says. “We’ve really built the fly wheel, we’ve built the culture, we’ve built the machine. Now it keeps going, keeps growing whether I’m involved more or less.”

Elroy is always ready and willing to fly back east if needed (he spends at least a few days a month in the Burlington office), but his days of being a regular, weekly commuter are done. COVID-19 played a hand in that.

“I had already become intentional with my travel, but when COVID happened, I stopped travelling back and forth altogether. I got rid of the condo in Burlington and set up in Kelowna full time. So far it’s worked out well using Zoom.”

COVID-19 hasn’t had a huge economic impact on Newlook Capital’s business holdings, as all were deemed essential services. In the early days of uncertainty, though, Elroy found himself in a new role—that of mentor. His knowledge and experience allowed him to guide and support operating partners who were nervous and overwhelmed with the rapidly changing business climate.

“The biggest thing for me was changing their mindset from being defensive to offensive. For me to get engaged with the people who are at the ground level running the businesses and get their mentality to shift, that I could have that impact on someone, that was really cool for me.”

It also allowed Elroy to look at what’s made him successful over the years and what advice he would give to young people working in any career field.

“Recognize what you are good at. Really understand that and quantify it,” he says emphatically. “I recognize what I am not good at and then I partner with people who are good at those things to make sure that I’m just working on my strengths.”

With four years of Okanagan living under his belt, Elroy is pretty comfortable in his new schedule and laid-back surroundings. He says the most notable difference between Burlington and Kelowna is how he answers the question, “What do you do?”

“When people in Kelowna ask you what you do, I had to recognize they’re not asking you what you do for a living, they don’t care. They’re asking, ‘do you snowboard, do you ski?’ That’s the focus here,” he chuckles.

Elroy has become an avid skier (even though he almost threw in the towel during his first week of lessons). He spends summer afternoons on the lake and ample time socializing with friends.

“I joined a business leaders’ group and have met a lot of great people, many who are in similar situations, working remotely.”

Elroy seems to have achieved the perfect balance between work and lifestyle. It makes a final question about retirement almost unnecessary.

“I don’t think I’ll ever retire. I can manage how many days I’m working and how much effort I’m putting in.”

That is a privilege that’s earned through years of commitment and, in the case of Elroy Gust, one that will be savoured for years to come.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Lifestyle

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(File)
British Columbians want more parks, even if it means less mining and logging: survey

Scientists say 30 per cent of land and water in Canada should be protected

File photo
EDITORIAL: The power of a single vote

In the Oct. 24 British Columbia election, every vote is important

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Kelowna RCMP investigating unexplained death of cattle

Cattle found dead near gravel road, east of the Kelowna Airport

The Alchemy Studio is hosting a dance church event on Halloween. (File Photo)
The Alchemy Studio hosting Halloween Dance Church

Spaces are limited and an RSVP is required

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

(Kelowna Capital News)
B.C. Labour Board orders Peachland cannabis company to reinstate laid-off employees

The B.C. Labour Relations Board determined the employees were laid off due to their plan to unionize

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Curtis Sagmoen
Public warning issued to North Okanagan sex trade workers

RCMP warns workers to stay away from Salmon River Road area

Two pigs roam the Salmon Arm Walmart parking lot during a prior visit photographed by Danielle Burgi. (Danielle Burgi photo)
Pigs trot over for a visit at Salmon Arm shopping centre

Employees say this was the second drop-in from the temporarily free-range porkers

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Penticton law courts. (Black Press file)
Osoyoos man in court for alleged shooting

The Oct. 11 shooting left a man with non-life threatening injuries

Most Read