Photography by Daniel Alexander

David Aucoin says passion is the key to success in the hospitality industry. At only 19, Aucoin kick-started his career, allowing him to develop personally and professionally in a wide range of roles. He began working as a reservation agent at Sheraton Parkway and Best Western Parkway Toronto North Hotel & Suites. Three years later, he became sales co-ordinator. For most of his 20s, Aucoin assumed sales roles at Westmont Hospitality Group, JM Hospitality Inc. and Extended Stay Deluxe Toronto (now Staybridge Suites by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)), bringing in more than $5 million in sales. With strong intentions of climbing the hotel-management ladder, Aucoin became vice-president and managing director of the Hampton Inn by Hilton in Brampton, Ont., where he formed an unbreakable bond with the hotel owner, Mandeep Sahi. With shared visions, missions and goals, the duo joined forces to launch DM Hospitality Inc. in 2016.

“Manny is the best partner I could’ve asked for. It was an instant friendship,” says Aucoin. “If you don’t have a business partner that shares the same vision as you, then you have nothing. He’s truly a mentor to me.”

For the last five years, DM Hospitality has been gaining momentum in acquiring hotel assets. Aucoin and Sahi acquired two Comfort Inns by Choice Hotels in Owen Sound, Ont. and Huntsville, Ont. Then, in 2019, they purchased the largest Motel 6 property in Canada, located in Niagara Falls, Ont. Because they took an immediate liking to the Comfort Inn brand, Aucoin and Sahi had aspirations of re-positioning the Niagara Falls asset while embarking on a major renovation project during an extended period of uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our plan was to focus on suburban markets and move market share to our hotels,” says Aucoin. Aucoin has a clear vision of what he wants to accomplish and works tirelessly to make it happen. He says being an entrepreneur is more than being a business owner — it’s a lifestyle. In fact, since Nov. 4, 2020, the hotelier has been living at the hotel in Niagara Falls with a rice cooker and two mini refrigerators.

“We started our own contracting company so we could have full control of the people we hired and provide employment opportunities to those living in Niagara Falls to complete our renovations,” says Aucoin. “We controlled our costs and purchased all the materials directly for this six-storey property. It took longer to complete, but we saved incremental amounts of money this way.”
Unfortunately, at the height of the pandemic, Aucoin and Sahi had to lay off all staff and the hotel was closed for 90 days. While the effects of COVID-19 were devastating, the hotel’s closure provided Aucoin and Sahi with a unique opportunity to upgrade and re-think their business models. After roughly 10 months of renovations, the 132-room hotel now features zero carpet, a breakfast buffet, a full-size gym and more.

“We got rid of all the carpeting throughout the hotel and replaced it with flooring, including the guestrooms” says Aucoin. “It makes it a lot cleaner than most places, especially during COVID-19.”

Although Aucoin’s ability to set his own goals and control his own progress is a marker of his freedom, his entrepreneurial journey isn’t always glamorous. One of the biggest challenges for Aucoin has been balancing his business and family life. Despite the hardships, Aucoin says his wife, Kimmy and their children, Landon, Avery and stepson Jonathan, will always be his number-1 priority.

“It’s difficult for me as a father because I haven’t been around my family much in two years,” says Aucoin. “There are many sleepless nights, but I need to finish what I started. I try to remind myself that this is a short-term sacrifice in exchange for a long-term gain.”
After two years of negotiations, DM Hospitality recently signed the franchise agreement with Choice Hotels, announcing its hotel property officially became Comfort Hotel Niagara Falls early this month.

“Because we own two Comfort Inns, we know the brand inside and out,” says Aucoin. “Our goal was to go for Comfort Hotel Niagara Falls and we finally reached that goal. Choice Hotels has been a great franchisor to us.”

At 39, Aucoin has many accomplishments under his belt, but he’s just getting started. Together, Aucoin and Sahi are guided by a like-minded commitment to continue on this trajectory post-pandemic and actively expand DM Hospitality’s portfolio.

“If you have a dream or an idea, act on it. Don’t hesitate and don’t second guess yourself,” says Aucoin. “Surround yourself with positive people that believe your vision can come to life. Without Manny, this couldn’t have been achieved. My wife has also been instrumental in keeping me focused. It hasn’t been easy with a young, growing family, but I value the hardships and sacrifices I had to make to get to where I am today.”

Written By Nicole Di Tomasso  


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