Pat Dubreuil launches each new business venture with his eventual departure in mind.
The Sudbury and Dubreuilville entrepreneur concedes he prefers to build rather than operate.
“That’s what I do with every business: I start with the exit strategy.”
With an admitted hectic lifestyle in juggling multiple business interests combined with travel, his brain is constantly percolating with new ideas, almost on a daily basis.
“I love building,” said Dubreuil, a junior mining company president, consultant, tourism operator and developer. “I’m the guy who likes to solve problems.”
Entrepreneurship runs in the family bloodlines.
In the early 1960s, Dubreuil’s grandfather and his three uncles carved out the northeastern Ontario sawmilling town of Dubreuilville from the bush.
The mill closed in 2008, but the entrepreneurial spirit behind the creation of the French Canadian company town is chronicled in a recently published book commissioned by Dubreuil.
“Being around business people all the time, you see it, live it, breathe it.”
His own foray into business came when he was fresh out of the University of Ottawa, partnering with his father in running the Motel Bienvenue and Pat’s Resto, which they built into a humming business, catering to snowmobilers.
They sold the business to Vancouver interests after six years, but Dubreuil re-entered the picture after the establishment went bust within a few years.
His brother-in-law runs the operation today with Dubreuil handling the administrative chores and promotional work from his home in Sudbury.
“I went into this – again – with a five-year plan and my five years are coming up at the end of next year.”
Despite his many pursuits, Dubreuil’s priorities always lead him back to Dubreuilville.
“It’s near and dear to my heart,” he said.
As a stalwart champion of the community, Dubreuil sits on various local committees seeking to promote the town and help grow it organically.
“Everything that I do, all the investments that I put back into there, is basically to help the town grow.”
In its heyday, Dubreuilville was home to 1,300 residents. Its population is now hovering in the 700 to 750 range.
With gold mining and exploration booming in the area, Dubreuilville is experiencing something of a resurgence.
“It’s history repeating itself,” explained Dubreuil.
With the nearby Island Gold Mine employing more than 500, available housing in town is at a premium.
Yet there remain challenges to convince transient miners to settle in town rather than fly in for work.
“I’m trying to find ways to provide affordable housing so we can get the town going like it once was.”
In a three-way partnership with a Sudbury partner and the Missanabie Cree First Nation, they operate a gas station, bunkhouse, and hold a substantial land position in town for future housing development.
Dubreuil’s interests also extend east of town where his company, Manitou Gold, is exploring for gold near the former Edwards and Cline Mines.
Though not a trained geologist, his segue into gold exploration came through his industry connections in working the supply and business development side for 15 years.
He was able to convince Manitou Gold CEO Richard Murphy on the mineral prospects that were up for grabs, enabling the company to secure a large land position in the area.
Despite his affinity for all things high tech and cutting edge, Dubreuil still adheres to time-honoured, old-fashioned values as his way to do business.
During an Indigenous business procurement conference in Sudbury last January, Dubreuil spoke about Manitou Gold’s unique duty-to-consult approach with First Nations.
The message conveyed was to conduct oneself as if “there are no rules, and basically deal out of respect.”
Those foundational principles go back to his family’s roots, beginning with his grandfather and uncles.
“They used to hire people on a handshake, give them a pair of boots, and a place to stay.”
Loyalty is built through honesty and transparency.
“That’s always been my philosophy. It works with any business.”