An existing business is the answer for a local family

Brian Tkachuk and Renee Gaudreault moved to Medicine Hat from Edmonton in 2016.

Brian worked in the oil and gas industry which meant long periods of time away from home.   

After commuting to work in the oil and gas industry for 12 plus years, Brian decided it was time for a change.  Although the industry paid very well, it would never replace the precious time he was losing with his young family because of the long commutes to and from work.  Brian and Renee have 3 children aged 6, 3 and 7 months old.

Brian started a search and found a local established sandblasting shop that was for sale in Medicine Hat.  The owner presented an offer to Brian to purchase the shop.   

The timing of the offer was perfect. As they assessed their situation, they both realized that purchasing the shop might be exactly what they needed to help them achieve greater balance in their family life.   Going into business together also made sense in other ways.   Brian had the skills and technical background to run the shop.  Renee had the tools to run the administrative side of the business (she obtained a certificate in entrepreneurial studies from Mount Royal University in Calgary).

After securing a small business loan from Community Futures Entre-Corp, Brian and Renee had the money they needed to buy the business.  Purchasing an established business with a client base meant Brian was able to start work almost immediately.

By April 2018, Brian and Renee were the new owners of Sandstorm Coating Industries in Medicine Hat. 

The sandblasting process has been around for a very long time.   It was discovered around 150 years ago, by Benjamin Chew Tilghman. It was formally patented in 1870.   The sandblasting process has been refined over the years and further patents and developments have since evolved.

Sandstorm Coating Industries in Medicine Hat works with many industries and projects.  Their portable sandblasting unit has opened more doors allowing Brian to travel directly to the customer.   It is one of the reasons this particular business caught their eye.  It is the only portable sandblasting unit in town.  That extra advantage has allowed them to expand their work to locations outside of the shop. 

Some examples of sandblasting and coating work that Brian has completed include work on Grain Bins, Trailers, Dump Trucks, Equipment, Rims & Tractor Rims, Guardrails / Handrails, Pipe Racks, hitches as well as residential projects.  Sandblasting can strip paint, rust and even remove certain imperfections from various materials.  Sandblasting is most often used as a preparation process to clean and prepare a surface prior to applying a protective coating. 

Renee described Brian’s incredible dedication to the business. “He works 6 days a week, and 12 hours per day”.   Even though being self-employed has meant long hours for Brian he can go home to his family at the end of each work day.

When I asked Renee to describe what the most important goal is for the business, she replied “We want to make customer service our main priority because we know that happy customers are loyal and this will grow our business.”

Here are two pieces of advice that Renee and Brian would give to entrepreneurs starting out today:

1.Take the leap, but look where you are jumping and have your jumping gear on!

2.Things happen, keep cool, and plan for it.

To learn more about Sandstorm Coating Industries, you can visit their website at sandstormcoatingindustries.ca

This story was written by Elizabeth Blair. Elizabeth is the regional innovation network (RIN) coordinator at Community Futures Entre-Corp and works to oversee activities with APEX. APEX is a Regional Innovation Network that supports the growth of innovative and technologically-oriented businesses in Southeast Alberta.

APEX is a collaborative initiative between three core service providers: Community Futures Entre-Corp Business Development, Medicine Hat College; and Alberta Innovates. APEX strives to support local entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized enterprises to develop and adopt new technologies, commercialize innovative new products, improve productivity, and get connected to Alberta’s Innovation System.