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

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
Saanich teen ‘locked inside,’ regaining speech after severe brain hemorrhage

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

North Saanich is giving local businesses a break by waving renewal fees for 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)
North Saanich waives business renewal fees for 2021

The municipality raised $48,000 from businesses licences in 2020

The Sooke school district has filled all spots for their French immersion and nature kinderagarten programs in 2021-2022 school year. Regular kindergarten registration is still open and available. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke school district gets surplus of nature, French immersion kindergarten applications

Not enough room for almost half of nature kindergarten applicants

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Most Read