Photo Credits: Cylla Von Tiedemann
Black Tulip CEO Joost Pelt originally trained
as a professional ballet dancer in Europe. He
and his equally talented dancer wife Marilyn,
joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB), a
company known for its versatility and technical
excellence, when they moved to Canada in 1977.
After retiring from the RWB, Joost and Marilyn
continued their respective careers in the “arts biz,” as
choreographers, producers, arts administrators, and later,
as owners of a small dance school and company. In the
late eighties, the family moved to Toronto where Joost
was hired as the Producer of Harbourfront’s contemporary
dance series at the Premiere Dance Theatre.
In 1994, following Joost’s final job in the arts, as
General Manager of Theatre Passe Muraille, he was ready
for a career change. He was confident that the discipline,
passion, adaptability, and creativity that he used so
successfully in his arts career would transfer easily and
effectively to his new role as a business owner.
Within a year, Black Tulip served its first bookkeeping
client from its home office, located in the basement of the
Pelt’s home. As Black Tulip grew and took on additional
clients, more services were added and more specialist
resources were hired to deliver them. It was only a matter
of time before the basement could no longer comfortably
house them all. Currently, twelve people (and one dog) are
able to take away clients’ administrative headaches, from
the comfort of their 3,000 square foot office in mid-town
Like the entrepreneurs that they are, Joost and Marilyn
Pelt identified a niche – small and medium business owners
that wanted to delegate the administrative tasks that they
didn’t have the time or the interest in doing themselves.
They observed that the administrative side of their
businesses often frustrated entrepreneurs, especially having
to deal with tasks like reporting, invoicing, payroll, hiring,
firing, and the like.
Today, with technology, it is possible and even more functions. That’s where Black Tulip can help. The company’s one-stop, online business model saves entrepreneurs and business owners time, money and aggravation and the team just adores completing all of the administrative tasks that their clients would rather not do.
Currently, Black Tulip provides the administrative services required to ensure its clients’ back offices run smoothly and effectively, even when the clients are away from their offices or are focused on other aspects of their businesses. By delegating the administrative tasks to Black Tulip, clients get the benefit of a team of external experts, on a pay-as-you-go, part time basis, and are not required to fund one, full-time, internal resource that may not have the full skill set. Moreover, clients do not have to purchase more services than they actually need.
Black Tulip has consistently proven its ability to dig clients out of their administrative messes. There are three reasons the company is so successful at sorting out the chaos - the team asks a lot of questions, sets up proper systems and, inserts discipline.The result: an administrative infrastructure that actually works.
Carl Messenger-Lehmann, President of Hyperweb.ca, one
of Black Tulip’s clients (Hyperweb also developed Black Tulip’s
website) agrees, “We were never very good at paperwork. I
view it as a necessary evil. Over the years, we’ve gone through
numerous bookkeepers. The one common challenge among them
all was their attention to detail, reliability and unforeseen gaps
in knowledge. When our business started to grow, these gaps
turned into craters. This dramatically affected our cash fl ow and
performance and jeopardized our business. By moving to Black
Tulip, we solved the reliability issues, the knowledge gaps, and
the attention to detail. And, Black Tulip was able to scale with us
as our business has grown more than 100%. None of this would
have been possible without the diverse team of experts at Black
Tulip. We now rely on them to handle the ever-increasing fl ow of
paperwork - from payroll to invoicing and HST fi lings, to monthly
A/R and P&L reports and the monthly budget.”
Joost attributes Black Tulip’s consistent growth to the
company’s customer-focused approach. Even when they didn’t
know how to do something, Joost and Marilyn said “Yes” first
and figured out “How” to deliver later. The company’s marketing
promise, “Just ask and consider it done,” is both the impetus and
the inspiration behind every one of Black Tulip’s services.
The company now offers a wide range of business consulting
and management services in four core areas - financial
administration (bookkeeping), payroll and HR administration, and
back office services. Clients span many different sectors and niche
markets. For example, a local private school needed assistance with
their start-up. Black Tulip helped with the necessary paperwork,
set up the books and the payroll, completed the school’s cash fl ow
projections, and provided specialized budget reports for its board
In another example, an overseas client wanted to open a
business in Canada. In addition to the client, there were a number of
private investors that needed to be reassured that things were under
control. Black Tulip did everything for this client including finding
office space and negotiating the lease. The team also sourced all
of the client’s vendors, from IT services to telecommunications
and even found them an insurance company. In other words,
Black Tulip looked after all of the little administrative details that
are needed to own and operate a compliant business in Canada.
Everyone, especially the investors, was very happy with the end
Black Tulip also delivers a wide range of personal assistant
and business administration services required by high net worth
individuals. For example, since the fall of 2000, the team has
provided Joseph Mimran with personal and business services,
including those required to support his role as a Dragon on the
CBC reality show, Dragons’ Den.
Joost attributes his success at reinventing himself to having
an open mind, to trying new things in new ways, and to nurturing
an entrepreneurial culture. If he does not have the skills to do the
work himself, he hires smart and finds the people that are best at
what they do. He then trusts them to go above and beyond for
Black Tulip clients.
Everyone on the Black Tulip team is just as passionate,
versatile and committed to delivering extraordinary value, as are
the two founders. They love what they do and it shows in the
many repeat and referral clients. At least in part, Joost and Marilyn
believe that the company is as successful as it is because they,
and everyone else on the Black Tulip team, continue to reinvent
Black Tulip is a family run business. The Pelt’s daughter
Jessica continues to rejoin the company after spending time
in progressively responsible external positions. The Pelt’s fur
daughter/office mascot Libby, a retired greyhound, ensures Joost
and Marilyn and the rest of the Black Tulip team stay focused on
what’s important – working and playing hard and having a healthy,
active lifestyle that includes extra walks and lots of tasty treats.
Suzen Fromstein is the author of Suits and Ladders, Ten Proven Ways to Keep Your Job Safe - with a few jokes thrown in. Suits and Ladders was an Amazon Best Selling Book in the Career Guides Category.
KARA McCOURT - OPERATIONAL MANAGER