In my biweekly column in The Times I examine entrepreneurship in rural Prince Edward County, Ontario. However, I believe many of the stories I plan to uncover can happen in many rural community’s across the globe. Here is my latest.
Why Prince Edward County? Why here and why now? We are going to keep coming back to this question. I believe there are going to be different answers for different people and I also believe there are going to be some common themes.
If a community, any community is going to be successful in retaining young families and people in general and attract new investment it has to answer the fundamental question why here? Not only does it have to answer this question but it has to know who might be asking it and building a case to rise to the occasion. But I digress, for now we are going to focus on one family where the answer is quite clear and the story is a wonderful one. Kyle and Christine DenOuden are an under the radar power couple who are classic entrepreneurs and are making things happen. They are young and driven and taking calculated risks. That’s what any community likes to see from its business people.
Christine grew up in Wellington and has a background in interior design. She also spent many summers cleaning summer cottages for rent. Kyle’s family is from Frankford and he grew up in a construction family. His father Eric builds homes in the area under the banner of Hilden Homes. His grandfather was also in the trade. Kyle grew up working in the building trades, working after school and for summer jobs.
Like most young people from rural areas Kyle and Christine ventured off to Toronto to start their careers but home beckoned and Prince Edward County was growing, people were moving to the county and there were opportunities. Christine wanted to settle in Wellington, her home and Kyle was just fine with that after all it was a great place to grow up and bring up a young family. They have three young children all under 10. Kyle took a job with a construction company and after hours, he and Christine built their first house, they then sold it made a profit and built another one.
Before they knew it they had launched their own custom home building company. They are a modest builder building a handful of homes per year – this is quite admirable for a 30 something couple with a young family. If that wasn’t enough they recently scooped up a large in distress house in Bloomfield and being builders naturally used their construction savvy to bring the building back to life. With Christine’s interior design and summer jobs background, overnight accommodations and weekly rentals was a natural fit. The 6 bedroom, 4 bathroom home with a pool is rented out most of the time all year around. It takes an enterprising team to see opportunity where others see ruin. It’s wonderful to see success happen when hard work, good planning and strategy ,build and rent out homes where there is strong market demand, comes together.
Did I mention they barely market – they don’t have to, other than a humble website, quality and word of mouth is their marketing strategy.
If that wasn’t enough they have taken on partners who are in the hospitality industry to approach their next challenge, the Duke of Wellington property at the eastern edge of town. Their short term vision is to more or less keep things the same. They see immediate opportunity to turn the upstairs of the restaurant into overnight accommodations which is one of the next projects on their list. Once they settle into the property they will sort through what’s next.
This entrepreneurial couple sees themselves as keeping their family and business centred in Wellington, focused on real estate and hospitality, but if you ask me I think they could conquer the world. Wellington and Prince Edward County are lucky to have such an enterprising young family.
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