2017 IW Winners

Entrepreneur of the Year - Sudbury

Tracy Nutt

Tracy Nutt

From renovations for friends on the weekends to owning three businesses employing around 100 people on any given pay day, Tracy Nutt has come a long way since 1985.

Nutt and her husband, Tony, founded Sudbury’s Build North Construction after an unexpectedly successful foray into home renovation.

Before long, they found they couldn’t keep up with the side jobs and so after much soul-searching they made the decision to leave their two full-time jobs, as a carpenter and in a bank, that provided benefits and regular paycheques.

“It evolved from us doing small home renovations to building multi-million-dollar schools and right now, a state-of-the-art research lab,” said Nutt. “It just slowly grew: the size of the projects grew, the size of our staff grew, and the dollar value of the work grew. Fast-forward to 32 years later, and we’ve acquired a couple more businesses.”

Build North was followed by their purchase of a ServiceMaster insurance restoration franchise in 1987. And in 1992, they purchased another Service- Master franchise which allowed them to do janitorial cleaning.

These were Nutt’s “babies,” and she worked aggressively to grow their operations.

“I stopped working out in the field and happened to wander organically into the financial and bookkeeping end of things,” said Nutt, who completed an accounting diploma at Cambrian College to learn more and better prepare to manage the growth.

Now, she’s stepped back from the finances and allowed someone else to handle them while she deals with the bigger picture. It has allowed Nutt to focus on another business, flipping houses. She said it’s another chance for her to learn.

“Although it sounds like it’s still construction, I’ve taken less of a role in the finance part of that and a larger role in design and décor,” said Nutt. “We’ve got the expertise and the manpower, and we’re used to getting into homes, tearing them up and refurbishing them.”

Nutt’s entrepreneurial spirit is almost biological. She can’t remember a time her entrepreneur parents didn’t own businesses, and she grew up hearing business discussed around the table every night.

Still, the reality of life as an entrepreneur wasn’t entirely what Nutt expected.

“If somebody had asked me when we started our business what we thought the benefits would be, I would have said the ability to work your own hours, the ability to take vacation when you want it,” said Nutt. “But we were wrong… when you’re first starting to build your business, you can’t afford to take a minute away from it.”

Her view of what it means to be an entrepreneur has evolved.

“Being an entrepreneur means we’ve provided jobs and security for the people that have worked with us, and as builders, we’ve provided beautiful buildings in the City of Greater Sudbury,” said Nutt.

“It may have started out being about what was best for Tony and Tracy Nutt, but wound up including what’s best for our team members and the community of Sudbury.”

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