Forty-seven gallons of yellow paint later, Steve Briscoe is determined to make a success of his newly opened quick oil-change business in Temiskaming Shores.
He moved from North Bay to the former New Liskeard and was surprised he had to wait a week to get the oil changed on his vehicle.
“I am used to getting it done in 15 minutes but there are no businesses like that here so I had to go through a car dealership,” he said. “That's how I came up with the idea for this one.”
After being opened a few weeks, cars were lining up during the lunch-hour rush.
He has hired five young employees, since they have to work in teams of two when working on a car, and Big B's Oil Change and Lubes is open seven days a week.
He found a space with two large bays that was once used by a courier and later used by truckers to work on their rigs.
“The walls were pretty stained from all those years of having vehicles in there and even after 15 gallons of paint, the soot still showed through,” Briscoe said. “But we used 47 gallons and now it is nice. It was a lot of work but we got it done.”
The yellow walls match the bee logo designed by a relative and he built an office to overlook the bays.
The business is warranty-approved through the Automobile Oil Change Association, which allows him to work on leases and government vehicles. He has some contracts and he is busy looking for more.
“In the future I might do undercoating and tires and maybe even have someone do car detailing,” he said. “But I am excited and it looks like it is going to work.”
Briscoe was a client of Enterprise Temiskaming, one of the small business enterprise centres across the province. Its region stretches from Latchford to Sesekinika and from Matachewan to the Quebec border.
“It's a fairly large region with a small population base spread across a few major centres,” said business consultant Evan Butler-Jones. “There is Temiskaming Shores and Kirkland Lake and then several smaller communities.”
Enterprise Temiskaming provides consulting, such as information services, and provides assistance with business plans and funding applications for existing and prospective entrepreneurs.
“It takes a lot of skills to run a business and very few get into their first business knowing all of these,” said Butler-Jones.
For Briscoe, Enterprise Temiskaming provided him with guidance, especially with municipal permits.
“(Butler-Jones) was definitely a key player,” he said. “He was very helpful.”
Service and retail make up the biggest number of businesses in the region, which often require less capital.
“The small population base for the size of the region makes certain types of business difficult,” Butler-Jones said. “Specialty retail is difficult since there are only so many to buy. Retail stores you see that are successful generally have something they did research on and know what people are looking to buy or they have a mix of products.”
The northern part of Temiskaming, around Kirkland Lake, is booming with mining so there are new opportunities for mining services. Also, an increase in disposable income, through the higher salaries offered by mines, means there is more money to spend.
In the southern part of the region, new agriculture businesses are springing up with new products that can be grown or supplying local food providers.
“There are a lot of opportunities now that weren't here before and some people are taking advantage of that,” Butler-Jones said.