A love of boating and a desire to share his passion brought Mike Holmes to his work as a charity poker run organizer and participant. He supports the Nipissing Association for Disabled Youth (NADY) – a local charity in North Bay which enhances the lives of children and young adults living with special needs. In addition, as a member of the Performance Boat Club of Canada, Holmes participates in charity poker run events across the province to benefit a variety of worthy causes. He spearheaded the “Blast for NADY,’ which is a charity poker run hosted each year on Lake Nipissing. The event has raised more than $50,000 for NADY since its inception in 2009. The poker run, which is not a race, brings in boaters from across the province for a one-day event where they complete about 90 miles to collect five cards at five planned stops, to earn in a plaque for first, second and third best hands. A fundraising element is built in through registration fees, a dinner and a live auction.
A closer look at Mike Holmes reveals a man who has followed his dreams. His highly-successful career began when he took to real estate after earning his BA University of Western Ontario. He quickly became a top producer, working for his father’s real estate firm in North Bay. In 1986, Holmes and his business partner Norm Pellerin bought the business and ran Holmes and Pellerin successfully for 26 years before joining Royal LePage North Bay Real Estate Services in 2012. Throughout his career, Holmes has participated in organized real estate and has served on several committees with the Ontario Real Estate Association.
The dream of owning a boat began early in his youth. “I think my love of boating was developed by spending weekends touring the Lake Nipissing and Trout Lake on our family houseboat along with my siblings and parents.” Then, it was a trip to Miami, Florida at age 15 that sparked a Holmes keen interest in what are known as performance boats. “We arrived to see beautiful boats moored along the docks. I spent hours walking up and down looking at those vessels and dreaming about some day owning one.”
While out of reach at the time, the desire to have a fast boat never faded for Mike Holmes’ view. He bought a v-hull Checkmate boat after moving into his first home, which was a waterfront property. “The house was so small that I had to go outside just to change my mind, but that boat gave us the open space we needed and a means to get up and down the lake.” Later, Holmes was tipped to a boat auction and ended up putting in a tender on a boat that was repossessed by the bank and was successful in acquiring his first speed boat at a bargain price. “That first speed boat would run at about 50 to 60 mph, and it was the beginning of my passion for performance boating.”
A chance meeting in Toronto at an on-water boat show, after signing a membership card for the Performance Boat Club of Canada further facilitated his dream. The former vice president of JJ Barnicke, Chris Ridabock, greeted the new member and invited Holmes and his wife Michelle out for a ride on his boat for the afternoon. “The boat was named Hot Dam. It was a memorable day and one of the nicest things anyone had ever done for us,” says Holmes. “Chris’s generosity has always stuck with me and as a result, I’ll often pay it forward and invite onlookers and enthusiasts to share a boat ride with me. That way, I get to enjoy their excitement and see ear-to-ear smiles.”
Today, Holmes’ current boat ‘Keep ‘N Busy’ runs at 110 to 120 mph. He thinks back to that memorable day for him in Toronto and says it’s a thrill for him to take kids from NADY out in his boat when the organization hosts their summer party each year. “The eyes of these kids are as big as saucers and their smiles so bright – it’s a thrill for me too to glance back and see their enjoyment.” Holmes says he has grown with the opportunity to raise funds for NADY and to help the families who benefit from the charity. He puts his heart and soul into it and says the charity poker run event challenges him to do better, improve on his efforts, and to share his passion for boating with many people.
What advice does he have for other REALTORS® who may have a passion for something? “I don’t think I ever got into boating or helping NADY as a way to boost my business, but it has helped in indirect ways. My involvement in boating is simply a great way to connect with people,” says Holmes. He advises other REALTORS® to take people along for a ‘ride’ with a passion, whatever that may be. While not everyone’s hobby or passion would equate to inviting people to ride in a boat, he offers sage advice in saying that sharing personal interests, whatever they may be, is likely to be contagious. If you have a passion for something, others will likely be interested or ready to enjoy it too, he says.
Holmes says that any branding that has come out of his involvement with performance boating has come naturally. “My brand is simply an extension of who I am and how I relate to people. That’s why I say, if you can take someone along for the ride, do it!”