If there's someone in Nanaimo who does more or works harder than Donna Hais, then I haven't met them yet.
Donna is a partner and General Manager of R. W. (Bob) Wall Ltd., as well as General Manager of Canadian Cache Development Corporation. She runs 10 companies, is a past president of the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and the Nanaimo Executive Association (NEA).
She's been a friend for many years and we've worked on several projects together. Donna was the main driver behind the Chamber building, and largely because of her hard work and contacts they burned their mortgage recently after just 10 years. While doing this, she's raised her family and fervently served her community, church, and the private school her children attend - all with a big smile on her face. She was also named to the list of Nanaimo's Most Powerful People in 2013.
Like most successful people, there have been a number of people who have helped her along the way, and I asked Donna about the people who have been a big influence in
her life. I'm never disappointed to hear whom people point to when asked, as their answers are always inspiring.
First, she pointed to her father, Bob Wall, who took her into the family business at age 20.
"He offered me a career change, and it changed everything," she says. "He taught me business ethics, how to do business, and he has always been someone to talk to if I got frustrated about something.
"He taught me that everything boils down to relationships, and he's so right," she says. "Sometimes you have to step back from something in order to preserve the relationship. That has really helped me grow.
"Working with my father has turned out to be a wonderful blessing. When I started working with the company, up to that point, we had a child/parent relationship," she notes. "Family works you harder than anyone else, because the expectations are so much higher. Everyone else goes home at 4:30, but you're expected to stay.
"Today, (my husband) Robert and I are best friends with my mom and dad."
There have been three groups that have been a key part of her success. The first was the NEA, a long-time business networking group that has met weekly for decades. Next was the Chamber, and she singled out a group of four past presidents whom she talked to frequently about Chamber matters, Charlie Parker, Russ Burke, Rick Thurmeier and myself.
"I can't tell you how many times I called them and asked questions," she said.
She also joined what some refer to as the "old boys club," Nanaimo Rotary that meets downtown, 12 years ago.
"I wanted to meet people that had something to teach me, and they have," she notes. "I went there to be a sponge and absorb information from them. It's been a great group to belong to."
Yet more examples of people helping people become their best.
Contact managing editor Mark A. MacDonald at 250-729-4224 or email: MaMacDonald @nanaimodailynews.com
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