Dr. Steve Gupta Easton’s Group of Hotels
Dr. Steve Gupta
President and CEO, Easton’s Group of Hotels.
We sat down with Dr. Steve Gupta for a quick cup of coffee in the lobby of one of his many hotels. A self-proclaimed entrepreneur with the businesses and buildings to back it up, we want to know how he took a truck stop on the corner of the 401 and turned it into a multidisciplinary real estate company, Easton’s Group of Hotels.
Dr. Gupta laughs and promises to try to condense a 36-year timespan into a few minutes, starting with: “I believe that entrepreneurs are born, not made. And I am a true entrepreneur.” Dr. Gupta states that he always knew that he wanted to have his own business and work for himself, not “someone else.” What started as a visit to England and Canada turned into the decision to stay in Canada and start his own business venture, despite discouragement from friends and family (which included warnings that he’d most likely get frostbite in the freezing Canadian winters). Undeterred, Dr. Gupta made his way over and went immediately for his real estate licence. He was denied due to not having resided in Canada for long enough, but his entrepreneur mindset did not let that be an obstacle and he immediately went for an insurance sales licence, passing all the required IQ and other testing. But then what? He was brand new to the country and didn’t know anyone. “Who do you sell insurance to when you don’t know anyone?” Dr. Gupta muses. It was a slow process of knocking on doors and even having a few doors slammed in his face. But he trudged onward with a goal in mind and after a year, he became the top salesman for the branch and had “won” a first-class ticket to San Diego for a conference. In this instance, Dr. Gupta shows that he’s not just an astute business man but quite possibly the ideal husband as well, sharing that he traded that first-class ticket in for two economy-class tickets instead, just to make sure he could have his wife by his side.
“It’s about building relationships and the mark you leave on people. They need to feel touched and to remember you”
While becoming the top insurance salesperson, Dr. Gupta always kept his eyes open for real estate and property that he could afford to get his hands on and in ’79, he closed the deal and opened up the gas station that started it all for this real estate conglomerate. This wasn’t just a cut-and-dry and impersonal business deal, however. In fact, Dr. Gupta purchased it from two brothers who had done a superb job with running the gas station. The two brothers, named Easton, stayed on after the change of ownership to continue running the gas station and became good friends with Dr. Gupta — with their name being the inspiration behind the Easton’s Group of Hotels.
During the interview, Dr. Gupta’s pride in his children and family are evident. His children began working with him while they were in junior high. “They were on payroll when they were young,” Dr. Gupta explains. “Everybody must feel rewarded for what they’re doing.”
Dr. Steve Gupta’s philosophy on treating business relationships like friends and family undoubtedly applies to his actual family as well, and he speaks on the importance of listening and giving unconditionally rather than denying or attaching conditions. “When you start putting conditions, ‘I did this for you, you do this for me,’ where is the love? Where is the sacrifice? Where is the unity? Where’s the affection? It’s not there. If you feel money is important, you’ll fight for money; if you feel our unity and relationship is important, you’ll say the money doesn’t matter.”
As a young immigrant with no more than just his dreams and a disciplined ability to self-motivate, no connections or resources, and yet the only Canadian to launch three new hotels during the recession, there’s got to be a secret to what seems to be Dr. Gupta’s Midas Touch. But while luck and timing may play a small part in the larger sequence of events, instead it’s Dr. Gupta’s extremely simple and relatable approach to people and sincere interactions that is the true reason he’s been able to build a successful empire. On his philosophy on owning businesses, general interactions and why he’s been successful, “It’s about building relationships and the mark you leave on people. They need to feel touched and to remember you. That’s the key. The people I work with, that work for me … there needs to be a chemistry. If there isn’t, then we may do the one deal but then afterwards, I walk away.” And with every working relationship being treated as a personal one, Easton’s Group of Hotels has grown to the point that Canada can look forward at having its own Marriott or Hilton hotel dynasty. And much like the Hilton and Marriott groups, it truly is a family affair.
Photo By Geoff Fitzgerald