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It Takes a Community to Grow a Business

Mister HQ Group president, David Burman, believes that to have a successful business, you need a successful community—and he’s found that in Windsor
Author: Matthew St. Amand
Photographer: Syx Langemann
1 year ago
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As long as David Burman can remember he has had a tendency toward transformation. Combining this with his innate sense of style—back when he counted his age in single digits—he flipped his bedroom and redesigned the family dining room on a regular basis.

“I think people are either born with a sense of style, or they are not,” says David, president of Mister HQ Group, one of Windsor’s most exciting and successful businesses.

It’s no wonder he is a two-time graduate of St. Clair College, excelling in their Hotel Management and Food and Beverage Services programs. Not only was David born with his own sense of style but has always possessed a desire to blaze his own trail.

“I come from a long line of entrepreneurs,” he explains. “My father’s mother founded one of Canada’s first beauty supply stores owned by a woman: Burman’s Beauty Supplies in London, Ontario. She and my grandfather owned a dry-cleaning store, and a nightclub, up until their retirement.”

David’s mother is descended from a longer line of American entrepreneurs.

“My great grandfather owned an amusement park,” David continues. “He also owned Darby’s Delicatessen, which had locations across Michigan and was nationally recognized as one of the best in the United States.”

Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1990, David moved to Windsor with his family in 1995. He retained strong roots with the American side of his family and maintains dual citizenship.

David attended Riverside Secondary School for two years, and then two years at Brennan. Following graduation, he attended St. Clair College.

“I was one of the first people from the college to do Disney’s International College Program,” David says.

He did private concierge and front desk at Disney, through Central Michigan University

“As a dual citizen,” he goes on, “I was given a lot of responsibility. I got to work with celebrities and take on unique tasks. The experience opened a lot of doors.”

During his time at Disney International College, and the jobs David subsequently worked, he learned that providing excellence in service was pivotal to success no matter the business.

“After high school, I worked for the Ambassador Bridge company, in maintenance, and in the toll booths,” he says. “I eventually went to work at Costco as a seasonal worker. I always had a hunger to learn and do more. I moved from being a seasonal to Costco’s Membership Department. Soon after, I moved up into the administration in charge of their financials. By the time I left Costco, I was a supervisor.”

It was in 2012, while working at Costco that David was approached to buy Mister Maid. He was twenty-two years of age. The company was struggling, but the opportunity came when David felt himself ready for a transition. On paper, the purchase might not have been the soundest business decision, but in his gut, David knew it was the right path.

“After buying Mister Maid, I went to each client and said: ‘Look, I know you’re not happy. Please give me the opportunity to regain your confidence,’” David recalls. “I remember getting a big boost when I went to see Greig Pedler, who was a customer. He listened to me and said: ‘OK, show us what you’ve got.’”

David did.

Reflecting on his slow, steady climb to success, David is quick to credit his friends, and particularly his family, his parents and aunt, for all they did to aid him.

“Where I am today is because of them,” he says simply. “My parents are the backbone of my success. They’re conservative people by nature, and sometimes felt I was moving too aggressively with my business. They often suggested that I take smaller steps, move with caution. My aunt, though, was my buffer with my parents. She would say to them: ‘Trust him.’ And they did. Even when we disagreed, I knew they had faith in me.”

Having his parents’ faith was important, but in those early days of Mister Maid, David also needed his parents’ hands. They lent their time and cleaning skills to David’s burgeoning business.

“My parents both had jobs—mom was in the medical field and my dad was a tech sales executive—but they also helped me. Now my aunt also works for the company. I’ll never forget that when I couldn’t afford employees, my family and friends helped me.”
Youthful enthusiasm may be part of the fuel cell propelling Mister Maid, but David’s entrepreneurial spirit came into full bloom interacting with residential and commercial clients. Everywhere he turned, he saw a niche to fill.

While working mainly with residential clients David saw that the local real estate market had a gaping need for staging and interior design services. And so, Mister Style was born in 2015.

“I’m proud to say that I pioneered the staging business in Windsor,” David says. “Within the last two years, my staging business has grown exponentially, while a dozen other staging companies have entered the Windsor market. Recently, I have worked remotely in Florida, completing four large projects. Locally, we have worked with multiple restaurants and commercial outfits. At our busiest, we completed eight hundred forty stages—averaging four to six a day!”

This audacious approach—that yielded solid results—has gained notice, leading to Mister Style taking on projects in London, Toronto, Vancouver, Detroit, Michigan and Naples, Florida (where Mister Style South is established).

In 2019, David’s experience with Mister Maid showed him there was also a need for in-home care. And so, Mister Care was born.

“We saw that there are people who are injured, or otherwise who need support in their homes,” David says. “We had some personal support workers already working in the cleaning department, so it wasn’t a huge leap to have them provide the care they were trained to provide.”

It was also in 2019 that the Mister HQ Group branding came into being.

“‘HQ’ stands for ‘High Quality,’” David explains. “People have told me over the years: ‘You’ve got such an attention to detail,’ and I genuinely believe that great customer service and an excellent eye for detail are crucial, no matter the business.”

With each new venture, people asked David: “How do you focus on so many businesses?”

“They’re intertwined,” he says. “They have all grown organically. When I see a need that I can fill, I fill it.”

It’s one thing to see a need, but quite another to have the business acumen and energy to fill it. David has both. There is, however, a cost of doing business that is not reflected on any balance sheet: the personal cost. Attempting to be “all things to all people” is a laudable goal but is never truly attainable. After years of personal and professional evolution, and with pleasing others being the cornerstone of his business, David’s mental health suffered.

“I came to a point where I had to create some boundaries between me and my work,” he recalls. “People lose themselves in their businesses. I think we need to focus on being ourselves and being an asset to the business. The desire to serve can sometimes have adverse effects. I was working sixteen-hour days, being overly communicative, and then during my downtime I isolated myself. As a consequence, I found it uncomfortable being around people.”

David now focuses on valuing quality over quantity. Still, he approaches his work with a high degree of sensitivity. Cleaning people’s homes, designing for people, staging their homes for sale, David treads in very sensitive areas of people’s lives and his success demonstrates that he navigates that terrain with skill and empathy.

This empathy carries over into David’s life beyond the business. One of his central beliefs is that in order to have a strong business, we need to have a strong community. David has used his position as a business owner to put his beliefs into practice, partnering with important programs, such as Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario (ALSO), Transition to Betterness, United Way, Women’s Enterprise Skills Training (WEST), House of Sophersyne, and Children’s Aid Society (CAS).

Currently, David sits on the foundation board of directors for CAS where he runs the “No Cold Child” program with the Fortis Group. This program ensures that hundreds of children will not be cold this winter. The campaign recently raised more than $30,000 providing holiday packages, which included new winter coats and accessories, along with hygiene products and gift cards.

With five growing businesses, deep roots in the community, David Burman and Mister HQ Group enter the new year on solid footing.

“We, as a community, are driven to support one another,” he says. “We need to be passionate about these small businesses. We become stronger when everyone is thriving. We have to learn not to live in fear, to take that risk, take that leap of faith!”

Learn more about the great things happening at Mister HQ Group by visiting them online at www.misterhqgroup.ca.

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