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 10:41 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

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

It costs as little as $7 to charge an EV at home. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Electric Vehicles a rare sight (in the Kootenays), but change on the way

Electric pickups will increase the appeal of zero-emission vehicles in years to come according to Blair Qualey of the New Car Dealers Association

Linda Krawczyk and her dad Doug Finney enjoyed a ride around beautiful Fernie on Friday thanks to Melanie Wrigglesworth and the local chapter of Cycling Without Age. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Cycling Without Age goes for its first spin

Doug Finney (86) got to enjoy a ride around Fernie

The Cranbrook Community Forest is good to go for mountain biking. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Snow’s done, time to hit the trails

South Country trails are good to go

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Most Read