THE MISSISSAUGA NEWS
July 19, 2000
Victor Deschenes, a street-wise kid from a working class family in Toronto, began selling newspapers on the corner near his home at age 7.
It was his first taste of entrepreneurialism.
Since then, he’s been a hotel doorman, a cab driver and a dispatcher. He made at least one fortune – and saw it evaporate in the recession of the late 1980s.
Deschenes, 48, started Expedite Plus almost a decade ago when he realized there was a need for a courier service where speed was more important than cost.
“If someone in New York needs an item from Korea, I’ll send a guy to go get the part and take it direct to New York,” Deschenes says matter-of-factly.
“They know it’s going to cost a premium, but when millions are at stake, cost becomes secondary.”
That attitude made Expedite Plus $8.5 million last year.
But what Deschenes’ business associates may not know about is his wildly philanthropic bent. More successful than he ever thought possible, Deschenes finds giving back to his community immensely satisfying.
“I don’t keep any real tabs on where I give money. If I think a group could use help, I just give it,” he says.
Deschenes’ list of beneficiaries in Mississauga includes hospitals, the Harbourside Theatre and The Mississauga News Christmas Bureau Fund – to name but a few. His charitable work started in Toronto, where he donated as much as $250,000 a year to causes such as lunch programs for students and providing underprivileged children with tickets to Blue Jay baseball games.
Now, Deschenes will combine his love of horses – he owns almost two dozen thoroughbreds – with his penchant for supporting his community. He also feels it’s time to recognize the undervalued work of jockeys.
“What people don’t realize is that if these guys don’t win the race, they get $85,” he said. “Now they start at 5 a.m. exercising the horses and they don’t get paid for that. That is free.
“And despite all this, there is no guarantee that an owner is going to let a jockey ride his horse that day.”
Deschenes began his involvement in racing only a few years ago, but it hasn’t taken long for this entrepreneur to climb up to the top of the racing game.
At the Expedite Plus Stakes race slated for the Fort Erie track Monday, Aug. 7, Mississauga News readers will have an opportunity to split a $10,000 purse, with the top prize an impressive $6,000.
No knowledge of horse racing is required and no bets have to be made.
In a precedent-setting move, Deschenes has also set aside $15,000 for the winning jockeys of the Expedite Plus Stakes race.
According to Deschenes, “it’s never been done before where the jockeys split the winnings like the owners.”
Jockey Ray Sabourin says, “Victor is a very special guy, no doubt about it. A lot of people say they want to get into horses, but when they find out how much is involved, they shy away.
“But Victor has made quite a splash in the horse business. He’s well liked and he treats people very fairly. He’s getting a lot of respect for that.”
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