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JOOST PELT CEO BLACK TULIP INC. "An Entrepreneur's Entrepreneur"


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, 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

of directors.

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.



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