The remarkable story of entrepreneur and builder Ches Penney is one of the brightest to come from Newfoundland & Labrador. The eldest of twleve children, Chesley Penney was born in Carbonear in 1932. Throughout his childhood he had much exposure from his father – a self taught auto mechanice. Young Chesley grew up learning from his father and was instilled many traits that served him well throughout his life.
At age 16, Ches moved to St. John’s to start a position as a teller with the Bank of Commerce. He quickly progressed in this position, becoming a bank manager only 7 years later in Grand Falls. Only three years later however, he took on a new endeavor and invested in an auto parts store. Meeting with demand, he was ready to expand. He went to open a highly successful grocery store followed by a car dealership, road and home construction companies and a bowling alley.
His life was filled with years of hard work and a dedication to entrepreneurism. Ches Penney married and welcomed a growing family. He also continued to further his education. Missteps happened when his construction company, Lincoln Construction, faced bankruptcy. Despite this, he made the most of the assets he had left and rebuilt the construction company. Notably he would wake up at 3:30 in the morning and make sure he was ahead of the day.
From then on, he grew the Penney Group of companies into a diverse portfolio of successful businesses. Today, the Penney Group of Companies has evolved into a holding group of over 60 companies including 13 car dealerships, off-shore oil and gas services, ship repair, steel fabrication, marine terminal services, real estate and seafood processing, in all employing over 3,000 people. Mr. Chesley Penney has been an inspiration to entrepeneurs in Newfoundland & Labrador and beyond.
Sadly in 2017, Ches Penny passed at the age of 84.