This is the latest entry in a series called Who Owns That. We've asked readers on our LinkedIn group to identify their favourite small businesses from across Canada, and we track down the owners so they can tell us their stories. Their answers are edited.
Introducing Carlo Parentela, president and general manager of Le Jardin Conference & Event Venue, based in Woodbridge, Ont.
1. Can you briefly describe your business, including when it was founded, what it does, how many employees you have, and how you chose your location?
My business is a catering company and banquet hall that was started by my parents in 1984, though they had been in the business since 1965 in Toronto. My parents sold their other banquet hall in 1980, and in 1984 they were driving on Highway 27 north of Highway 7 (outside Toronto) – farm country in those days – and saw a For Rent sign. They thought they might want to get back into the banquet hall business, so they stopped in, peeked through the windows, called the owner and made an offer to buy the empty building. We now have more than 100 employees.
2. What inspired you to be an entrepreneur and to start Le Jardin?
My father inspired me to be an entrepreneur, seeing him make business deals and contracting with people seemed very exciting to me, and I wanted to do the same thing but on a bigger scale. I joined the business as president in 1984. I started when my father was still in charge, but I took control on my own in 1987, and I grew it from an 8,000-square-foot facility to a 74,000-square-foot facility with plans to build a 250-room hotel (Hyatt or Radisson Blu) in the next two years.
3. Who are your typical customers, and how do they find you?
My typical customer is an engaged couple looking for a wedding venue. They usually find us by word of mouth or on the Internet.
4. What is your role in the business, day-to-day and in terms of forward planning?
I'm the president and general manager. I set policy and I oversee the day-to-day sales and operations.
5. You've been identified by one of our readers as a standout business. What do you consider the key element of your success?
I believe we're successful because of our attention to detail. Everyone can see the big picture but it's those that look into the small details that always win because people notice that.
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