— Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Ed Hardy doesn’t often watch “Dragon’s Den,” but a chance viewing recently has launched a new business career for him in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Hardy is the holder of the Avalon Peninsula rights for GoTire, a mobile tire shop franchise that was launched in Canada by two Red Deer businessmen two years ago.
Hardy saw the founders on CBC-TV’s “Dragons’ Den,” on which entrepreneurs pitch potential investors on their products or services.
“I just happened to catch it one night,” he said. “I don’t watch that show very often, but I just happened to be in front of the TV that night. I’ve always tried to brainstorm ideas for businesses because I think time is of the essence.”
Hardy is betting that customers in the St. John’s area will pay him to come to their homes and places of businesses so he can change their tires, fix their windshields, and detail their vehicles. It’s a business model introduced in the United Kingdom about a decade ago and has proliferated since.
Canada so far is an underserved market — Hardy says he’s the fourth GoTire franchisee in the country. He’s only been in operation a few weeks, but says he’s already seeing a decent volume of business, helped, in part, by the brand recognition from its appearance on “Dragons’ Den.”
“Most of my days, I start somewhere between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m.,” he said. “I’ve been busy with tire changes and interior detailing.”
Right now he’s a one-man operation, but he’s hoping business growth will warrant him hiring someone else.
Convenience a selling point
He’s confident that, as word spreads, business will grow because of peoples’ frustrations with the traditional way of getting one’s tires changed.
“I think mostly it’s because of the system of dropping your car off first thing in the morning at six o’clock and then getting a ride to work and having to wait around without your car all day, you get dropped back to the garage at five or whenever, it’s just not the most convenient,” said Hardy.
“A lot of times you can’t get in. You try to get there early, but it’s a first-come, first-served basis. The old way of doing it, which hasn’t changed, ever, it’s kind of crazy, especially now with more and more people in town.”
Being able to show up in parking lots when people are at work makes sense, he said. “They don’t have to lose their car for anything more than an hour and a half to two hours, and they don’t have the hassle of going back and forth to the garage.”
The Telegram called several tire shops in town, but all declined comment or didn’t return messages. Hardy said he thinks there’s enough business to go around and isn’t worried about rubbing the competition the wrong way.
“There’s so much business here, I put such a small dent in what they do,” he said. “But I do think they’ll consider having a vehicle of their own in a number of years.”
A marine engineer by trade, it’s Hardy’s first business venture.
“It’s really challenging. There’s a lot to it, but the guys up in Alberta, they did a really good job of giving (me) a lot of training. I’ve still got to learn the software for my accounting and all that,” he added, laughing. “I like it a lot. … It’s really interesting, and really fun. There’s a lot to it, but so far, so good.”
Not that he’s unaware that there’s a difference between changing tires outdoors in May and doing it in the middle of winter.
“You interview me then and see how my mood is,” he said, laughing. “The thing about is most people get their tires done November, December. And the weather hasn’t really gotten totally miserable by then. There’s a Norwegian expression that I like a lot that says there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing.”
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