Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Bill Lewington, Owner of CASCADIA INDUSTRIAL TIRE LTD., located in Burnaby, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
As a wholesaler, we partner with many resellers, such as equipment service companies, equipment rental companies, etc. We become their tire experts providing industrial tires, installation, and repair services. As a retailer, we provide industrial tire products directly to commercial business customers such as freight forwarding (shipping), manufacturers, distributors, and construction companies throughout Canada and the United States.
Our typical retail customer would operate 6-25 forklifts; however, we have many customers with a single forklift, telehandler, loader (OTR), or specialized port equipment. We are considered a nationwide distributor because we can provide an unparalleled line of quality products, as well as extensive industrial tire expertise; we can quickly supply products from 15+ warehouse locations to our customer location and minimize equipment downtime. From our Vancouver, BC base, we also offer mobile installation and repair services to many local customers in the Vancouver, BC, area.
Tell us about yourself
I was asked by a friend to help him expand his small industrial tire business division in early 2002. The goal was to expand beyond its British Columbia, Canada focus and leverage the internet to reach a wider customer base. My BSc in Computer Studies and extensive sales and web application development expertise became critical. Although internet marketing in many industries was growing exponentially, internet marketing of industrial tires was uncommon in those early years. Over the next 13 years, the highly-ranked online store I built specifically for industrial tires became very successful and grew the business significantly. They became an industry leader throughout Canada and USA, and any searches for industrial tire keywords resulted in Page #1 listings.
The industrial tire business was sold in 2018, and the new owner decided to reduce their industrial tire focus in early 2020. As a result, I created CASCADIA INDUSTRIAL TIRE LTD in April 2020 in response to their exit from the industry and the continued demand for industrial tire sales and services from an industrial tire expert. Initially, the focus was a drop-ship model where we supplied products directly from the manufacturer's warehouse to the customer's location, leveraging our industry connections and industrial tire expertise. Many of my old BC customers began reaching out looking for proper customer service, and we added local installation and repair services to the Vancouver, BC, area. In my formative years as a technology consultant, I learned the reward of helping customers grow their businesses and become more successful. Unhampered by others placing limitations on my vision, my business has continued to grow as I provide industrial tire expertise to my growing customer base.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our biggest accomplishment is when a customer recognizes the value we add to their business and refer their friends and colleagues to us; we know we have done our job better than our competitor.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Managing all aspects of a business is complex. When you work for someone else, others always help you run the business. As a business owner, you need to have an expert level of all parts of the business to help guide and set expectations for your team.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Mentors and partnerships are so important when starting a business. You can't run a business all by yourself, and there is no way you can think of all the options to consider with making decisions beyond a sole proprietorship model.
- Understanding your goals and strengths and be willing to adapt to changes quickly and plan for current and future changes as the market changes.
- Start with the basics and build on the core once it works. If you try and do everything from the beginning, you will end up with mediocre service and unhappy customers. Create procedures so you can replicate and improve the process and force yourself to evaluate the changes you add.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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