Small Business Month – Client Success Stories: Grand River Heating and Cooling, Canfield Ontario
Grand River Heating and Cooling: Serving Rural Communities
There’s never an easy time to become an entrepreneur. It’s a tough decision to leave a guaranteed paycheque to start a business from scratch and work long hours with an unknown outcome. Despite this risk, with a strong business plan and enough support, the result can be incredibly rewarding. This experience rings true for Amanda Ibbott who started Grand River Heating and Cooling with her husband, Bill.
During his 20 years working for contractors in the heating and cooling business, Bill identified a need to have a reliable service provider in rural communities. This market was being overlooked as not many contractors were willing to go to these communities to provide service. Bill and Amanda decided to start Grand River Heating and Cooling to serve clients in these rural communities. “Bill began working in the company immediately, while I stayed at my job to minimize our financial risk through the start-up phase.” Soon after the new business was off the ground, Amanda realized that in order to provide great service to the local community, the business needed a dedicated person to manage customer relations, so she began working full-time for the business in 2012.
Initially, Grand River Heating and Cooling was being run out of the Ibbott’s home workshop with the administrative side of the business based in their home. While this created convenience for the Ibbotts, it also led to a lack of work-life balance for the couple. “Having part of the business in our home blurred the lines between our work and personal life. It felt like we weren’t able to relax in our home because we could never unplug.” They knew they needed to do some renovations to create a dedicated space for the business on their property. The extent of the renovations required proved to be too large for the couple to handle on their own and needed additional funding to make it happen.
They reached out to the Grand Erie Business Centre for support, which was a game-changing move for the business. They were able to secure an operating loan that was used for renovations to move all business-related activities out of their home. In addition to allowing Amanda and Bill to have better work-life balance, the Grand Erie Business Centre also helped them relaunch their website and refine their business plan. This support was instrumental in giving the Ibbotts the confidence they needed to grow their business. “They were great to work with and made everything easy. We’ve never borrowed money from outside of the Grand Erie Business Centre, and don’t intend to go anywhere else. Our only regret is that we didn’t contact them sooner.”
Looking back on their journey, Amanda gives a lot of credit to the guidance and support she received along the way. The Ibbotts took advantage of the many free resources the Grand Erie Business Centre offers entrepreneurs. It was a big leap of faith for the Ibbotts to start their business, but by taking measured, calculated steps, they were able to successfully navigate the business world. “Grand Erie Business Centre helped us to achieve our work-life balance and allowed us to take our business to the next level.”