CEO – Benjamin Moore Kelowna
“How awesome would it be if someone would give me the opportunity to run a company?”
After graduating from the University of Virginia with a degree in Finance and Marketing, Dwayne Luquetta worked at two large and established professional services firms before ultimately realizing that eventually he wanted the responsibility, autonomy, and entrepreneurial challenge that comes with being the leader of a small business. While pursuing his MBA at the Yale School of Management, he met two of Chenmark’s partners and learned more about Chenmark’s focus on owning, operating, and growing small businesses over multiple decades. This long-term approach, as well as the nature of the businesses that they acquire and operate, piqued his interest. So, after graduation, he joined Chenmark as a Vice President of Finance and Operations, a precursor to Chenmark’s current Generalist Vice President (GVP) program.
Dwayne was able to jump in right away on a variety of projects ranging from evaluating new potential acquisitions to tackling corporate-wide insurance programs to providing Chenmark’s operating companies with financial and operational analysis. After a few months of mostly project-based advisory work, an opening came up for a CFO at one of Chenmark’s operating companies, Mainely Grass. Dwayne leapt at the chance to get direct operating experience and to take on a role with real skin in the game.
“You want to be in entrepreneurial spaces because you want the challenge. One common theme that we talk about amongst the GVPs is that although the businesses we’re in may be considered ‘boring’ by many at a superficial glance, the operations and people that drive these businesses are anything but that.”
In this role, Dwayne managed a small team, spearheaded an initiative to improve the accuracy and timeliness of financial reporting, and has implemented processes for better sales and inventory tracking. As a member of Mainely Grass’ senior leadership team, he was also involved in the day-to-day decision-making processes driving the success or failure of the business.
“I love it. It’s much more dynamic than anything I have ever done. Every day you come in, there’s a new challenge and opportunity and there’s rarely a clear answer to a problem. But you make an educated decision, move forward, see how things play out, and then re-evaluate when you have more information. There’s more excitement because I’m actually doing things that matter, and it’s gratifying. There’s a level of risk each day. If I don’t do my job, things will go poorly, and the business might not do that well.”
Later that year, Chenmark entered into an agreement to purchase a Benjamin Moore paint dealer with two locations in Kelowna, British Columbia, and Dwayne was first to put his hand up for the CEO role. So, he packed up his wife and infant son and moved 3,000 miles west to jump headlong into his next adventure. Today, Dwayne is feeling inspired by the work he’s doing, while at the same time learning what being CEO really means. His former classmates are still wondering at times why he passed on opportunities to work with startups that are making headlines across the country to instead sell paint in British Columbia, but for Dwayne, it’s exactly what he’d been looking for, the chance to run his own company.
When asked what advice he has for young professionals looking for more out of their careers, Dwayne offers the following: “If you’re looking for a unique opportunity to take on responsibility that you would almost certainly not get this early in your career, that is the reason to go down the small business path: because you want to be a CEO. You want to run and build a company. You want the challenge and autonomy and are comfortable with true ownership and responsibility. And that’s exactly what you’ll get with the GVP program at Chenmark.”