Brian Bonney has worn many hats both in the corporate and political realms.
Now, he is returning to his first love - heading a non-profit that supports small business.
"It's allowing me to get back to my roots," said Bonney, who begins his new position as CEO of the Canadian Homebuilders' Association of B.C. on Feb. 25. "I think this is the job I'll retire in."
The $15-billion industry employs about 193,000 people, he said.
The association doesn't just represent homebuilders, Bonney explained, but also businesses in the sub-trades such as developers, manufacturers, suppliers, landscapers, realty firms, painters and more. The B.C. association has about 1,700 members, he said, while the national association has more than 6,800.
The self-made businessman started his first business when he was 14, he said, and understood from an early age the struggles and challenges small businesses face.
"I then realized what entrepreneurs go through," he said.
The new role is not the first time Bonney has represented small businesses in B.C. - he was the director of provincial affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for three years.
"I really regretted leaving the CFIB," Bonney said, adding it was the right choice at the time, and that he went on to a good opportunity. "I loved working for small businesses."
Bonney then worked for Uniserve Communications for about a year before taking a position as the director of communications for multiculturalism for the provincial government for a year and four months.
He has spent much of his lifetime moving between the worlds of business and politics, working as the director of operations for the B.C. Liberal Party for four years prior to his position with the federation.
But eventually he discovered he was happiest representing small businesses, he said.
"That's the one thing I realized I was always doing, helping small businesses grow or prosper," he said.
In his new role, Bonney plans to continue the training and education initiatives started by his predecessor, M. J. Whitemarsh, he said.
"She's recognized for having built some of the best training programs in Canada," Bonney said.
The association recently signed an agreement with the Ontario Homebuilders' Association, offering the industry certified training programs, he added, and may look at offering the programs across Canada.
Bonney also intends to speak with the 10 regional locals, to learn what their challenges are and to grow the membership, he said.
And finally, Bonney plans to take time to survey the members.
"I'd like to implement a more formal process," he said, adding he would then present the results to the government to illustrate the industry's needs.
While he has big plans for the association, Bonney is beginning his new career with a celebration.
He plans to attend the association's 21st annual Georgie Awards on Feb. 23, before his first official day in the office.
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