By Patti and Mike McMillan
We’re a perfect team of planner and helper for our new Driverseat franchise in Burlington, Ont., providing designated driver (DD), airport chauffeur, assisted transport and related services, using our customers’ own vehicles. We have been able to leverage our extensive experience in transportation and information technology (IT) based marketing, respectively, to increase the public’s awareness of our services and build a successful business.
I grew up in Clarkson Village, a southern neighbourhood of Mississauga, Ont. I was one of six children, with four brothers and one sister, and we were very sports-minded. Lacrosse, especially, was big for us. We would play for hours in our backyard. In fact, I played the sport competitively and coached at various levels for five decades and was inducted into the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2014.
As a child, I enjoyed math and gym classes at school and thought I might become a teacher one day. I would have been good at it.
I studied at the University of Western Ontario in London and took courses in economics and business. After two years, though, I realized that stream wasn’t right for me.
I worked with the provincial ministry of transportation for a couple of years in Toronto before taking a job as a Young Drivers (YD) of Canada instructor in Mississauga. Initially, I taught new drivers, but my responsibilities quickly increased and I moved on from in-class and in-car instruction to train-the-trainer sessions to eventually opening my own YD franchise in Owen Sound, Ont., in the late 1980s. I enjoyed the franchise experience of having the opportunity to run my own business with the ongoing support of a franchise system behind me.
After returning to the ministry of transportation in Mississauga and spending another three years there, I joined my brother at his request at Peter Hodge Transport, a family-owned and operated trucking company in Milton, Ont., that was successful and respected in the industry. I started in 1995 and spent 21 years with them as the tank division manager. The owners were salt-of-the-earth people who genuinely cared about their employees and that was reflected in the culture of the organization. They became close friends and I learned a lot from them about what it takes to run a great business. My entrepreneurial passion remained, however, and I continued to hold a desire to work for myself again in the future.
I was born and raised in Owen Sound, the youngest of four siblings; I have two sisters and one brother. My family still lives there today.
My father worked at a factory and my mother was a secretary at a public school. We spent our summers at Sauble Beach, Ont., a resort community in the town of South Bruce Peninsula.
Academically, I was in the advance levels at school. While French and chemistry were my best subjects and art was always a passion of mine, I chose a computer analyst/programmer program at Conestoga College’s campus in Kitchener, Ont., for my post-secondary education.