By Nick Daw
Cars have always been one of my life’s great passions. Growing up, I’d only seen the Meineke franchise system on U.S. television, but on a trip to Calgary in 2010, I learned it had expanded into Canada. Today, I am Meineke’s only franchisee in Edmonton and the experience has made me an even bigger fan of the system than I already was.
A love of cars
I was born in Nazareth, Israel, and grew up in a small town a short distance away from the Sea of Galilee. It was a safe area and, like many boys my age, I spent my days outside playing soccer and dreaming about the cars I would drive once I was old enough.
When I was 10 years old, my family decided to relocate to Canada. At the time, my father had relatives in Edmonton, so we moved and have lived here ever since.
As I got older and had to start thinking about what I wanted to do as an adult, I never let go of my love for cars. Although I had originally wanted to be a racecar driver, my parents weren’t able to afford supporting the hobby, so I went to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) and studied to become a mechanic. I thought it would be a good idea to have training in multiple automotive fields, so I took courses in heavy equipment, small car engines and diesel engines, in addition to regular automotive mechanics. After graduating, I worked with my dad in construction and would go on to spend nearly 15 years on the floor as a mechanic. I ended up working as a foreman running a United Parcel Service (UPS) fleet for four years. Eventually, I decided it was time to open my own business.
Seeing a market opening
With plenty of experience, I knew the automotive industry and, more specifically, the Edmonton market. I’d seen Meineke advertised on U.S. television channels for years, but never saw the actual business until I was in Calgary for a week of training with UPS. I happened to be driving downtown and saw a Meineke franchise. It donned on me there were no franchised locations in Edmonton. This seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Once I did research and connected with the right people at Meineke, I was interviewed to see if I would be a good fit. As I was a licensed technician, I found it easy to interact with customers and discuss all things automotive, had also successfully run a fleet of 150 vehicles for UPS and had business management experience. I was clearly a good fit for the franchise.
Meineke is a large system with a vast presence across North America. It has a great reputation and, after talking to other franchisees and doing more research, I figured joining was a risk worth taking. I could bring the brand to Edmonton and think about expanding if things went well.
At the end of 2012, I bought my franchise. The team at the head office in Charlotte, NC was extremely helpful and walked me through all of the paperwork. As I was a first-time business owner, it was an intimidating experience, but the franchisor made it easy.
During my two-week training program, I learned more about Meineke and was given management skill training. As I already had many years’ experience, the technical skill training was more of refresher, but it was great to see how thorough the franchisor is with its franchisees. They want us to be succeed.
The only difficulty I had getting started was finding the perfect location. At the time, there were many options available, but I was not going to jump into anything immediately. I needed to love the property. It took six to nine months to find the right location and get my business up and running.
I wanted to be strategic with where I set up shop. I chose a property at one of Edmonton’s busiest intersections, at 75 Street and Wayne Gretzky Drive. Funnily enough, I ended up finding the spot through a friend.
This longtime friend from NAIT was a franchisee for another system and was selling his business. I didn’t know this at the time, as we’d fallen out of touch, but the realtor I hired to help find a location had been in contact with my friend. When the realtor proposed the property, I knew it was the perfect place.
After many months of search, the deal was made within a week. I opened for business on Sept. 10, 2013. From the first meeting with the franchisor to my grand opening, the process took a year.