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Kenmac Energy owner named Entrepreneur of the Year at Charlottetown chamber awards

Dan MacIsaac, owner and president of Kenmac Energy, is this year’s Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce’s Entrepreneur of the Year.
Dan MacIsaac, owner and president of Kenmac Energy, is this year’s Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce’s Entrepreneur of the Year. - Tony Davis

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - It may have been a risky proposition in 1986 when Dan MacIssac bought a majority interest in Petro-Canada’s P.E.I. operations and launched Kenmac Energy.

But, MacIsaac knew the business and knew the Island, and he and his wife were looking for an opportunity to come back to “paradise”.

“Was it risky? For sure it was,” said MacIsaac, this year’s Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce’s Entrepreneur of the Year. 

“It’s no different than anybody else that’s trying to start a business. You put everything you have in and work pretty hard for quite a period of time, and hopefully it comes together.”

MacIsasc, 68, owner and president of Kenmac Energy, received the award at Wednesday night’s 2018 President’s Excellence Awards ceremony at the Delta Prince Edward hotel.

Born in Sherwood, MacIsaac graduated in 1974 from UPEI with a B.A. in history (minor in economics). He was recruited to work in P.E.I for Petrofina, a Belgian-owned oil company, and then for Petro-Canada after it bought out Petrofina.

MacIsaac was working in Halifax in 1986 for Petro-Canada as the Atlantic manager for wholesale industrial when the opportunity to come back to the Island and buy a majority interest in the company became available.

It was then he formed Kenmac Energy, which was the majority shareholder, and Petro-Canada remained a minority shareholder. MacIsaac explained the rationale behind the arrangement was Petro-Canada’s interest in having local ownership and local decision making.

“A lot of the competitors didn’t go that route. And, Petro-Canada has continued to thrive in that kind of concept.”

“It was everybody that works with me and been around me for a few decades. I might be accepting the award but it’s on behalf of a whole bunch of people.”
-Dan MacIssac

That local focus has allowed Kenmac Energy to “hug our customers” rather than work with them from a distance, he said.

“We want to see them face-to-face.”

MacIsaac has grown the business with acquisitions, such as Souris Petroleum, C&C Fuels and Noonan Petroleum (49 per cent), as well as operating as a distributor for Petro-Canada in P.E.I and New Brunswick.

“There’s no question the oil and propane business is tough. No question about that, it’s very tough. But there isn’t any business out there, really, that doesn’t have a lot of good competition,” he said.

MacIsaac also owns a total of 10 Mel’s gas stations and convenience stores in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia. Overall, he has around 300 employees.

When chamber president Jennifer Evans called him about being selected for the award, he said he felt honoured and happy. But he realized the award was also recognition for his employees. 

“It was everybody that works with me and been around me for a few decades. I might be accepting the award but it’s on behalf of a whole bunch of people.”

MacIsaac said his approach to business is to provide a good product in a clean and safe environment with competitive prices and with good people and good service.

“Then you’ll get your share,” he said.

Twitter.com/terry_mcn

Related: Charlottetown business community celebrates entrepreneurship at President’s Excellence Awards

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