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

Just Posted

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

The Princeton Food Bank will eventually be located on First Street in the former United Church 
building. (Spotlight photo)
Princeton’s food bank to get new downtown home

Baptist church acquires former United church building

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Vernon’s Tanya Wick, human resources VP at Tolko Industries Ltd., has been named the 2021 HR Professional of the Year by the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon. (CPHR BC & Yukon photo)
Okanagan resident gets top provincial award for HR excellence

Tolko’s Tanya Wick has earned the title of 2021 HR Professional of the Year

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

The City of Vernon is taking a close look at six high-priority Okanagan Lake access points, including three sites along Tronson Road (pictured above) in May 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon council looking closely at Okanagan Lake access points

Six access points have been identified as ideal for recreation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Police working to identify the two bodies found in South Okanagan

The area will see higher police presence ahead of a forensic examination

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
More than 40% of Central Okanagan residents have received 1st vaccine dose

Local clinics have administered 81,247 first doses to Central Okanagan residents

Most Read