By Allan Bain
Before buying into the Crackmasters Canada franchise program here in Sherwood Park, Alta., my wife Judy and I had been retired for three years from our previous professional careers. While we had driven and financed vehicles like everyone else, we never thought our next business would involve fixing, modifying and detailing them!
My earlier days
I was born in Vancouver at St. Vincent’s Hospital (which no longer exists). We moved two years later and my parents raised me in Edmonton.
My childhood interests included birdwatching and organized sports like hockey, which I refereed. I became a certified camp counsellor and spent four years teaching swimming and canoeing.
My best subjects in school were English, social studies, history and literature. Judy and I met as kids and were high school sweethearts, but then went our separate ways. It wasn’t until 30 years later that we would reconnect and get married.
As a typical teenager of the late 1960s, I did not know what field or industry I wanted to get into after graduating from high school, so I joined the oilfield industry at Zama Lake in Northern Alberta. Over the years, I moved through a number of industrial sales jobs. I sold valves, controls, instrumentation, packaged water and even entire wastewater plants. When I retired, I was a partner in a large firm.
While my career was very entrepreneurial, Judy’s was more corporate. She worked for HSBC Bank Canada for 15 years, eventually serving as assistant vice-president for the last four years before retiring.
After two years of personal projects and a lot of travel, we both became itchy to get into business again, for fear of getting bored. We began to search for a new business opportunity that interested us both and would be the right fit financially.
We began our due diligence. We carefully investigated the market, the growth potential and the competitors. Also, being an ex-banker, Judy made sure the business would bring a viable return on investment (ROI).
Next came a series of meetings with Ivan Mayer, president of Crackmasters, and his son Terry, vice-president of sales. We had to carefully examine and consider a lot of factors before developing a business plan and committing our hard-earned dollars toward what would be our last business venture.
For one thing, the brand appeared well-exposed, with more than 150 locations across Canada. In terms of customer satisfaction, it didn’t hurt that the franchise system’s credibility had been enhanced by winning consumers’ choice awards every year.
For another thing, the value for money seemed great. It was actually one of the lowest-cost programs we had researched, providing us with more than enough initial retail products and in-house services to recoup our original investment.