Tell us about your business and how it was started:
partner (Kevin Houben) and I started Universitybrand in my basement in March
2010. We began with a little truck and trailer in the junk removal sector
hauling junk in London for the first summer. We expanded into Moving in London Ontario shortly
after, and today we have a fleet of 12 vehicles, 4 full time salaried employees
with benefits, and a team of over 35 employees in our peak time periods. We
have grown organically to offer a complete suite of residential and commercial
full scale moving, junk removal, and cleaning services, and have recently
launched another home services division for concrete and asphalt driveway
sealing. We are awaiting our registered trademarks in both the US and Canada
and are gearing up for a Canada-wide expansion via franchising.
What drew you to becoming an entrepreneur?
from a family background of hard working middle class laborers. When you are
young you don't really see this until you start to want things. I was fortunate
at a very young age to move 800 km away from home into a strict environment
surrounded by extremely wealthy people. At this stage I knew there was
something more than working in a factory and sitting behind a desk. I remember
one trip to my friend's house on a long weekend getaway in grade 10. His house
took 3 years to build, and on the Sunday—with no one around—we were there
joyriding his father's farm combines (in his dealership), and racing golf carts
through the factory in which they had been made. It was my first taste of
financial freedom and I wanted the same. After that I took the usual path of
jobs—swinging right back into the status quo of things—first at Dairy Queen,
and then selling knives. But along these paths I was led to my first real
epiphany for entrepreneurship and the Canadian Dream. While visiting Grand
Bend, I bumped into my old Dairy Queen owner who was restocking his ATM machine
outside of his store. He told me he was easily making a killing there. One year
later, using unsecured lines of credit and spare pocket change, I owned my
first business: three machines in the Grand Bend and London area. There's
nothing more exhilarating than walking around Grand Bend during the May 2-4
weekend with $40,000 in twenty dollar bills in your pocket when you are 21
What business resources (book, blog, website) have
you been influenced by?
two resources I would recommend prior to getting into business or even thinking
of entrepreneurship that could be paramount to one's success. The first is
Michael Gerber's book E-Myth Mastery: it truly explains everything
you need to know. The second is an audio session called Mind and Emotions
by George Zalucki. I see both of these as a must, and the ideas I got from
these resources are a huge part of my life.
What advice would you give to someone starting a
small business today?
at first is not easy; nor is it pretty. Entrepreneurship is lonely, and
sometimes you will wonder if it's still worth it. Be prepared to miss
birthdays, Sunday picnics, and celebrations. Be prepared to be distant from
your normalized social sphere while you go and build your dream. 120 hour weeks
are normal, vacations are non-existent. Most businesses fail because they don't
stay at things long enough to succeed. For people to be truly happy, what they
CAN become, they MUST become – be sure you are becoming what you must become.
What is in the future for Universitybrand?
is always seeking talented individuals to enable us to keep a stride ahead of the
competition. We are expanding our London business while getting the necessary
processes ready for a North America-wide expansion. We may be piloting a
project territory in the Toronto area this coming summer in order to gather
more data for our upcoming full blown expansion. Universitybrand is driven by
its people, culture, and customer service, and we hope to become Canada's and
eventually North America's largest home services provider.