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Former Saskatchewan sailor getting prepped to take different kinds of orders

Thursday, August 25, 2016
Regina Leader Post: Retirement does not always mean a life of leisure, and for many former members of Canada’s Armed Forces and the Royal Canadian Navy it means the start of a new line of work.

As a way to assist those transitioning from that life, the Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur program was created to provide former military members the tools they need to start their own businesses.

It was launched in 2012, in Quebec at the Universite Laval, and was so popular that it quickly expanded to the Paul J. Hill School of Business at the University of Regina. Since 2012, 0f the 250 business boot camp graduates, 160 have gone on to launch their own businesses. The seven-day bootcamp kicked off Sunday and this year’s 20 participants will graduate Saturday. 

This year, Dean Lehnert from Biggar decided to give the camp a try because he heard it was a good program.

He was not disappointed.

Lehnert said the days were packed with useful information about all the things he really needed to know; he would like to start his own catering company for special events.

A chef by trade, he has spent the past 32 years in the navy as a petty officer 1st class.

“I was the head cook for many vessels,” said Lehnert. 

He enlisted at the tender age of 19 and spent four years with the regular forces and the rest of his 32 years with the navy reserves all as a cook.

“I joined to be part of the armed forces, for a bit, to see what it was like. Then I went to the Middle East when they were doing peacekeeping over there. Then I came back and I basically took a contract with the reserves for government research as a cook on a ship.”

Lehnert said being with the navy provided him with an opportunity to travel around the world.

However, as the head cook, his job was always to establish and manage the kitchen and oversee the cooking in a constantly changing environment. 

“It was a whirlwind,” said Lehnert. “It was always an adventure, which is why I loved working for the armed forces.”

He retired in February and moved back to his home community of Biggar.

Lehnert knew he was not quite ready to hang up his apron for good and once he moved home, he realized the town was lacking food services.

However, he had no idea about how to start his own business, so that’s why he decided to head back to the classroom for a crash course in business.

Lehnert said he knows the basics of business, but also that there are no guarantees of success. He believes his business idea will be a success because the province has grown and changed.

He said one of the best parts was speed networking and learning how to connect with the business community. 

Lehnert said he would recommend the program to anyone retiring from the armed forces.

kbenjoe@postmedia.com

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