Local entrepreneurs inspire the next generation at “Driving Your Future at Mercedes-Benz Kitchener-Waterloo”

  • Driving Your Future is a Mercedes-Benz Canada initiative, which aims to empower the next generation of Canadians through a national partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS).
  • Young people from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region were invited to an empowering, motorsport-themed evening featuring an inspirational talk from Marc Lafleur, a Kitchener-Waterloo based entrepreneur, race-car driver, and former BBBS mentee ("Little").

Local entrepreneur and race-car driver, Marc Lafleur, recently spoke to a group of young people from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region. As part of "Driving Your Future at Mercedes-Benz Kitchener-Waterloo", he offered inspiration and encouragement to young people to identify their passion, set goals, lay out a route, and steer the direction of their lives. As a former mentee ("Little") in Big Brothers Big Sisters programming, the event was a full-circle moment for Lafleur.

Lafleur comes from very humble beginnings. He remembers attending high school with holes in his shoes. He was not particularly motivated academically, until he discovered a passion for football. His ambition to play at the university level propelled him to academic success and he graduated high school as an Ontario scholar.

During university, Lafleur found his niche in entrepreneurship. In 2016, he founded truLOCAL, an online marketplace for consumers to connect with local farmers and producers. In five years, he successfully built the company into a team of more than 60 people, expanding across Canada and the U.S. Then in 2021, he sold the business for $16.7 million. A motorsport enthusiast from a young age, the sale of truLOCAL put Lafleur in the financial position to fulfil a lifelong dream of buying a car and racing. In 2022, he became the CASC Pirelli Sprint GT3 Champion and Rookie of the Year.

Lafleur is passionate about sharing his story as an example that anyone, from any background, can find success. At the event in Kitchener-Waterloo, he encouraged young people to set positive goals for themselves. He was joined by a group of local entrepreneurs and business leaders including Nick Spina, founder and CEO of LiveFit Foods, ethey, and Denovia Labs; Devon Galloway, co-founder and CTO at Vidyard; Omar Khan, co-founder at Theta Trading Corporation; and Lindsay Mustard, osteopathic practitioner and firefighter.

The event at Mercedes-Benz Kitchener-Waterloo is an extension of Mercedes-Benz Canada's "Driving Your Future" initiative, which aims to empower the next generation of Canadians through a national partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters. As part of this national partnership, Mercedes-Benz is the presenting partner of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada's (BBBSC) National Youth Mentoring Advisory Council (NYMAC). NYMAC is a nationwide consortium of youth experts (aged 17-28) who help shape the future of mentorship across the country. NYMAC provides consultation, undertakes projects, and takes a leadership role in supporting BBBSC on issues related to youth mentoring, ensuring the voice of Canadian youth authentically informs the organization's work.

The co-chair of NYMAC, David Awosoga, is a master's student at the University of Waterloo, studying mathematics and data science. He collaborated with Mercedes-Benz on "Driving Your Future at Kitchener-Waterloo", participating as the emcee of the event.

In addition to the motivational talks, Bigs and Littles also got exclusive tours of the Mercedes-Benz Kitchener-Waterloo showroom, and the chance to ask questions and explore potential careers in automotive – from sales to customer service to service technicians.

The next "Driving Your Future" event will take place at Mercedes-Benz Toronto Queensway as a celebration of the new facility, which features the first AMG Brand Centre in North America.


"Driving Your Future is an extension of how Mercedes-Benz leads and accelerates change. We are proud to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters to ignite the potential of young people across Canada. Our approach is to think globally and act locally, and it's wonderful to see the team at Mercedes-Benz Kitchener-Waterloo extending our national partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters at the local level by connecting with their local chapter and creating a meaningful experience for kids in their community," said Andreas Tetzloff, CEO, Mercedes-Benz Canada.

"As a member of the Tri-Cities business community, we want to give back and make a positive impact in the area. We are thrilled to bring this national partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters to life at the local level by welcoming young people from our community to our facility for such a unique and exciting event. The goal was to encourage young people to identify their passions and set positive goals for themselves. Perhaps for some the experience will inspire them to explore careers in automotive," said Brian Lowes, Dealer Principal at Mercedes-Benz Kitchener-Waterloo.

"Our partnership with Mercedes-Benz is amplifying the value we deliver to children and families. By pairing dealerships and our agencies in the communities they serve like here in Kitchener-Waterloo, we're strengthening relationships between mentors and mentees. Together, we are building capacity, connection, and hope for a brighter future," said Jill Zelmanovits, President and CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada.

"I was a Little with Big Brothers Big Sisters so it is really 'full circle' for me to be involved in this initiative. It's a privilege to be involved with Mercedes-Benz and its "Driving Your Future" initiative. I hope my story will be inspiration to the young people in attendance to set positive goals for themselves, take the driver's seat, and steer the direction of their lives," said Marc Lafleur, Kitchener-based entrepreneur, and racecar driver.

"I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to emcee this event and to hear the inspiring messages from Marc Lafleur. As a member of NYMAC, being able to champion youth engagement for the ninety Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the country, is a core component of our mission and vision. Having the support of Mercedes-Benz Canada and their dealer network in this initiative is evidence of their commitment to meaningfully invest in young people," said David Awosoga, co-chair of NYMAC and Driving Your Future Kitchener-Waterloo emcee.

# # #

About Mercedes-Benz Canada
Mercedes-Benz Canada Inc. is responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service of Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-Maybach, and G-Class, including combustion, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric models, as well as Mercedes-Benz Vans. Headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Mercedes-Benz Canada employs approximately 250 people across Canada. Through a nationwide network of 59 authorized dealerships, Mercedes-Benz Canada sold 35,949 vehicles in 2023.

For more information, please contact: Sinead Brown sinead.brown@mercedes-benz.ca or Garry Ho garry.ho@porternovelli.com.

Further information from Mercedes-Benz Canada is available at media.mercedes-benz.ca.