Weather High -4°C Low -10°C A Chance of Flurries Entertainment Hot Gossip Sports Olympics: How will Canada do? THE MALLORY REVIEW NIAGARA’S MUNICIPAL NEWSPAPER • MALLORYREVIEW.COM • MONDAYFEBRUARY 13, 2006 Collee Automotive: Still In Full Drive By Mallory Hamilton, Niagara Falls You can easily say that Matt Collee has it all. He is a loving husband, a father to two teenage girls and a great hockey player and coach. But while Collee has all that going on in his life, he is also running a successful business and it all began with an idea. Outside Collee Automotive with owner Matthew Collee Pursuing a career as a cook, something he always wanted to do. He met his wife there and eventually decided that he no longer wanted to be in that field. Eventually he landed a job at Davey Automotive, a store that sells auto parts. He worked as a driver for three years before eventually being promoted to manager. After nine years at Davey Automotive, Collee decided he needed a change. Not a change of field, but a change in position. Collee wanted to be his own boss, at his own auto parts store. Collee had always wanted to run his own business, and in May of 1993 his dreams started to become a reality. Three months prior to the opening, he and his wife leased a space in a plaza right around the corner from their house to start their own auto parts store. The space was not finished so they had to complete many of the renovations themselves in addition to the actual setup of the store. In order to pay for the space and the products, they had to get an Ontario Government Grant, then called a Small Venture Loan. There was a long application process, but the loan was interest free, and they would match the amount of money you put in. The loan took a long time, and quite a bit of paper work, but they eventually received it. This was the beginning of Collee Automotive.
What was most appealing to Collee and owning his business was that there was no one to tell him what to do. From that point forward he was in charge, so every decision he made was crucial to the success of the business. The first year was tough like every other business, but what made things harder for the store was that they started in a recession. But they stuck to their plan to try to win over customers and they got past their first year. They hit their five year mark, then their ten year mark, and now into their thirteenth year they are still standing tall. A day in the life of Collee is busy and tiring. He wakes up early to be at work for seven, an hour before the store actually opens. He starts to get things set up for the day along with a morning coffee and newspaper. His employees arrive just before eight just in time for the store to open. The stock order is the first item that needs to be taken care of. Once that is completed the day consists of phone orders, deliveries and the walk in customers. When five-thirty comes around, the store is ready to be shut down, but there is still closing paperwork that needs to be done. End of the day ring off, closing cash and credit accounts, counting the till and making the bank deposit need to be taken care of every day the store is open. Collee is finally ready to go home after a hard day’s work, but it isn’t all resting from there. He still enjoys cooking, so he makes dinner every night for his family. And since him and his two daughters all play hockey, you will most likely find Collee at the arena late into the evening. Finally it is time to go to bed, just to wake up and do it all over again. Collee sums it up well, “You just got to like what you do”. Collee with wife Donna holding the first dollar they made There are many advantages and disadvantages that come with owning a business. Collee feels that a big advantage is being able to come and go as you please. He has a busy life outside of work so flexible hours are very beneficial to him. Then of course there are the disadvantages such as bills that need to be paid, and your odd unsatisfied customer. There are also competitors that he needs to worry about such as Jack Dow Auto Supplies and the Automotive Warehouse. Collee feels that pricing is a big factor in being able to contend with other competitors. But the number one issue with being able to compete is service. He feels that if customers are not satisfied with the service then you have failed as a supplier. Collee highly encourages people to open their own business. From his experience he does not think that people need a post-secondary education to succeed. He feels that people with college or university experience tend to shoot for higher standards. As long as they have the willpower and drive anything can be accomplished. Collee has had many proud accomplishments in the last thirteen years. He has hit his ten year mark and he has been able to give three people full time work. In addition he is able to sponsor many sports teams, and provide co-operative education to students who wish to get in the field. You can easily say that Matthew Collee is a successful entrepreneur. He has done what many people have not been able to do. And where does he see his business in ten years? “Hopefully hiring more staff, and more vacation for me”
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