The largest independent tire dealer on Vancouver Island
A discussion with Nick Lansdorp & Ron Vissers, Co-owners
Why did you choose Sidney as the location for your business?
“At the time that the shop was opened there was no tire service in Sidney and I know Hank [the founder of Sidney Tire] had managed a store in Victoria and was looking at the peninsula. There was an opportunity in Sidney to buy a piece of property off the main street in a great community equipped with many amenities close to the water. It was a great opportunity for him and the timing was perfect. There was a house on the corner of the lot and Hank moved in there with his family. He saw a need in the community and he filled it.”
How would you describe your experience in the Sidney community?
“Since day one it’s been good and the fact that we’ve been here for almost fifty years says a lot about the community that our business is in. As Hank would say, ‘if you look after your customers they will look after you’. The fact that we are here speaks to this symbiotic relationship. We have looked after the community and the community has looked after us. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the Sidney community supporting us and you can’t take that for granted. It’s something you have to work at every single day.”
What has been the most rewarding aspect of running your business so far?
“The fact that we can say fifty years later we are still here and have some of the same customers. We deal generationally; there have been grandfathers, fathers and sons. We have been dealing with members of the community for a long time. Relationships are the essence of business. We have people that work here who volunteer and are a part of the community. Being able to provide opportunities for people who live in Sidney and raise their families here is great.”
If you could give one piece of advice to a new entrepreneur what would it be?
“Go for it and give it your all. It is hard work and it takes a long time to become an overnight success. This is a relationship business and if you are providing a service or product, you have to be aware of your customers and look after them. You must have customers that are willing to engage with you again, a repeat customer is priceless. Especially in a small community where people have lived here for generations and word travels fast. It goes back to the customers and you need to look after them.”
What are the core values of your business?
“It is essentially honesty and integrity. It comes down to being honest with the customers. In our business we tell our staff that we are not going to sell a tire, we are going to help you buy one. We take the approach of educating by answering customers’ questions and helping them. We are human, we all make mistakes but it’s important to own up to your mistakes and make them right, that is honesty and integrity. We stand behind the products that we are selling. In this industry, it is common for workplaces to try and get customers in for as much as you can and this puts a strain on the industry. At Sidney Tire, we would rather have someone come in various times throughout the year with smaller bills than once with a larger bill. We choose to work with our customers to meet their budget.”
“Additionally, safety is first and foremost, we consider what must be done to ensure safety. We also value the environment in all that we do as we have always recycled the tires and gotten rid of any waste products in a sound manner. On the West Coast, we are so close to pristine environments that we must do our part to protect them. We have been very cognisant of this from the beginning so when the green business push came about it wasn’t a change for us, outside sources just made it easier for us by providing more resources.”
What are your short term and long term goals as a business owner?
“Long term is continued growth. We now have the electric vehicle coming on board so we have to look at those changes in our industry regarding how cars will be repaired and what is required in our business to make that happen. With electrical vehicles comes a new set of challenges. They don’t wear out parts as quickly and they don’t have oil changes like standard vehicles do. As we get further into electrification that part of the business will decline, so as business owners we need to and determine how we can adapt. This will also influence our short term goals by impacting the decisions we make. The automotive industry is constantly evolving. Changes are being made in automotive personnel requirements and there are many things to consider and shuffle around. It’s fun and always an adventure.”