A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Pete Peuquet
Back in 1964, Pete Peuquet had worked for Orville Redenbacher and Charlie Bowman while simultaneously going through college and pursuing a degree in economics and finance. Peuquet had worked with Chester, Inc., as a client with a previous job, and eventually was offered a position with Chester full-time. Today, he’s the CEO, and he has paved his career path by staying true to his mentor teachings and becoming a mentor himself. After 45 years of service at Chester, Inc., Peuquet has never lost sight of his roots.
“I knew [back then] that this was a great opportunity and that I would be with Chester long-term. I liked the business and being outside,” Peuquet said.
As CEO of Chester, Inc., Peuquet is active in the company’s sales and marketing operations. Chester, Inc., is a Region leader in architectural and construction services, information technology services, and agricultural services. Reflecting on the business’ growth, Peuquet explained that about 65% of current business is repeat business, which reflects the strong relationships Chester Inc shares with clients.
“We’ve done an excellent job making our clients feel comfortable with us building for them. We’re very proud of the relationships we’ve made over the years with our long-term clients and it’s great being able to see them expand and grow. We’re happy to have the opportunity to build for them time and time again,” he said.
Peuquet also has been actively involved in the community for several decades. He has been a board or committee member for many non-profits and other organizations such as the Regional Development Company (RDC), and many others. Peuquet’s passion for getting involved and giving back to the community also reflects and sets the standard for Chester, Inc.’s culture.
“We welcome our employees to take the time needed to get involved in organizations and non-profits in the community. This has been the nature and mission of Chester for many years.”
Chester employees are involved in organizations such as the VNA, United Way, and Opportunity Enterprises. Their work has not gone unnoticed.
“Being recognized and giving back to our community is a great satisfaction for us, and our employees really enjoy volunteering within the community,” Peuquet said.
One of Peuquet’s fondest moments as a business man was when he was recognized by the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC) with the Lifetime Achievement Award. During the 22nd annual Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards luncheon, also known as E-Day, small business success was celebrated in the Region. The award shed light on his passion for community involvement
“I was very surprised and pleased when I was chosen for this award. I just thought of these activities as being part of the business and definitely did not expect to get recognition,” he said.
Chester, Inc. co-founder Charlie Bowman had received this same award several years before Peuquet, making the award even more special and close to his heart.
Peuquet has paid close attention to the entrepreneurial spirit of the Region, leading Chester to develop several businesses and industrial parks in the Valparaiso, Portage, and Chesterton areas.
“We’ve brought many business and job opportunities to these areas and we are very proud to be a part of this growth. We hope to continue this type of work for years to come,” he said.
Chester, Inc. also has worked with many mom-and-pop businesses and has had the pleasure of watching them grow while working alongside them every step of the way.
Some other notable successes, of course, are the Orville Redenbacher brand development, hybrid seed development, and working to create a liquid fertilizer including for Eli Lilly.
“We’re an idea company. We come up with ideas long before competitors and this has brought Chester major success. Today, you never know what the next big thing will be, but I have confidence that my employees will be there with ideas and thoughts on it,” Peuquet said.
Chester focuses on having the right personnel in place and efficient operations to achieve their goals.
When he retires, Peuquet hopes to leave a strong legacy that sets the company up for maintaining solid relationships with their clients and continuing to be active in the community.
In his free time, Peuquet enjoys spending time with his grandchildren and golfing. From time to time, he enjoys boating. Since the 1930s, Peuquet’s family has been passionate about the sport, and Peuquet has even boated competitively at numerous competitions on the Great Lakes, including the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac.
“Boating is competitive, similar to business, but different in its own way. I still have a boat, but I would like to get back into sailing and maybe teach my grandkids,” he said.
Although Peuquet is in a high pressure and demanding position, he still considers himself to be free-spirited and calm.
“I’ve had a great life, family, employees, clients, and I just don’t know what else I could wish for. I’m glad for all of the opportunities I’ve had throughout my life. I’ve been very fortunate.”
Peuquet would like to thank his father and Chester Inc founding fathers, Orville Redenbacher and Charlie Bowman for being great mentors throughout his career and personal life. He has strived to carry out their teachings every day and continues to focus on one particular personal trait: integrity.
“I think there’s so much going on in society today that people don’t recognize the things that are important in their lives and values. Integrity is one of the most important traits a person can have,” Peuquet said.
Looking forward, Peuquet says he is thankful that his sons will continue the family legacy and continue the Chester Inc name.