FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Wes Lenci
May 14, 2013
His self-description: “an extremist, ‘it’s got to go fast’, and I try to get the most out of my situation – I have a switch with only one position, ON. In golf I swing as hard as I can. There is a passion to everything I do. I am a mix of brain, heart and wisdom. I hate wasting time. I hold people accountable. I like to show my people a path to achieving what they want.”
I first met Wes Lenci shortly after he joined Regus (Oct. 16, 2000 he recalled without looking it up!), we worked together on securing office space for the G8 Summit that was held in Kananaskis, June 2002 – 1 ½ floors of Bankers Hall for 9 months – to house DFAIT staff supporting that event. Our paths have crossed a number of times since but we’ve never sat down for an in-depth chat before. Last week we sat down in his Calgary office . . .
Super-charged might describe him. Wes Lenci, raised in NE Calgary grew up looking out over the old GeneralHospital where he was born – gazing at all those office towers downtown – wondering where and how he would find his career there. The route to his career with Regus Business Centres, starting when they had only three centres in Canada to his role today as country manager – at the helm for Canada (52 centres now with plans to reach 68 by end of 2013, 100 by end of 2014) is a story of influences and teaching worth recognizing. His early career, fixing used cars and selling them at a profit, in high school placed him in the enviable position of arriving at SAIT (marketing program) in his own Corvette. He dropped out to sell cars full time. Youthful focuses on work and cars were re-directed by a move to Vancouver (seems there was a girl involved) where he began a career in the Future Shop organization which took him around western Canada, several years living in the United States and then back to Calgary taking on increasing responsibilities until his exit – a happy-package, when Future Shop sold out to Best Buy. His rest-year saw him, once again, turn his thoughts to the office towers of downtown Calgary, wondering “what can I do?”. In the midst of exploring jobs in the building industry – and seeking Mon-Fri work, he says he “stumbled upon” an opportunity to be Regional General Manager working from Regus facilities in Bankers Hall was appealing. How he got the job – “Selling is selling”, he says.
What would your staff, your direct reports, describe you, what would they say of your leadership style?
… tough, demanding, caring about us as people . . .
I asked Wes how he sees business over the next 90 days?
… fantastic. Our business office-ing model fits the needs of so many people. New companies coming to Calgary, coming to Canada, are with us until they outgrow us. That’s great.
. . . and over the next 5 years?
… our model is adaptable – more people need mobile services for short-term use; we are developing new kiosk models to serve our member/customers who can access a Regus facility anywhere. We’ve been pioneering kiosks in business lounges at airports, mini-centres at highway rest stops and gas-stations in Europe with considerable success and these are already rolling out in Canada through partnerships we are developing.
What do you worry about, what keeps you up at night?
… I worry about my kids – they are all doing fine – but they are so caught up in things on-line, I want them to spend more time enjoying the outdoors. I don’t want them to be social ingrates, I urge them to develop people skills, to be focused, organized . . . like me
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life?
… my dad (long time sales executive with Metro Ford) fostered my interest in cars, my mom’s hair salon business fostered my interest in business – left me wanting to either own or run a business. Mechanics in high school. But most of all, 10 of my 12 years with Future Shop – training I got along with other members of the management team, all day, every Tuesday, from Mr. K and other members of the ownership group there, was intense and fantastic grounding in business.
What do you do for fun?
. . weekends and vacations at our family’s place in Sicamous – boating, water skiing, quading on weekends with my brother – high performance quads, high speed! (of course)
What are you reading?
. . online mostly – business stories, articles, publications. I don’t have time to read fiction.
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