What’s better than owning and operating a business that you love? How about operating two of them! That is the story of Erik and Jody Derkzen who brought their unique business Derkzen Motorsports from London to Sarnia in 2013. Originally operating out of London since 2006, they have been offering the ‘Arrive and Drive Racing’ experience for driving enthusiasts out of the Grand Bend Motorplex and Toronto Motorsports Park, since 2010.
When the Derkzen’s relocated to Sarnia to be closer to family, they decided to do a few things differently. The key to successful entrepreneurship is learning from your successes and obstacles and they knew that purchasing a building in their new Sarnia location made more sense than renting. In order to do so, they approached the traditional lenders for financing. Unfortunately, when your business is as unique as theirs, there’s not a lot for banks to compare with in terms of predicting your success rate. Derkzen Motorsports are the only ones in Ontario who do what they do, with clientele across the province from Ottawa to Sarnia. The statistical information needed to back up their plan simply didn’t exist. Like smart business people, they didn’t let that deter them from their dream and they found themselves engaged with the Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation to discuss the future of their business. Erik was thrilled to find support, where in their previous location they had no knowledge of such services and had struggled to find answers alone. Despite that, Erik advises aspiring entrepreneurs “Don’t hesitate, Just do it!” particularly with such helpful aid on hand.
The great thing about a non-traditional lender is that they can look at your business and see vision and possibility where others see only risk. They are more receptive to unique concepts and innovation. Jody and Erik had several things going for them. They were passionate about their business; they had already been successfully running it from another location; and Erik had extensive mechanical knowledge. The duo created a business plan and could not have been more pleased with the process. “We learned a lot about our own business while creating the business plan for SLBDC”. During that process, one of their advisors questioned Erik about his superior mechanical knowledge – particularly as it relates to Transmissions. He had worked for several dealerships specializing in the area of highly-tech Transmissions and realized that he still had expertise to offer in that field.
From the new location of Derkzen Motorsports on Palmerston Street S came their newest business venture – Sarnia Transmission Services. Transmission mechanics are often hard to come by, mostly because people often discard a vehicle rather than fix the transmission. “People often think, well if a new transmission is $5000, then I may as well get rid of the vehicle and buy a new one” Erik says, “In reality, it may only cost a small fraction of that price to actually repair the transmission. Sometimes, it’s as simple as one small part.” And for that reason, Erik hopes people will bring their vehicles to him when they get the dreaded diagnosis. He will offer an honest assessment of what’s needed and most times, it’s not a death sentence for the vehicle. Erik is particularly skilled at working with high-tech repairs and highly-specialized transmission services. Between both businesses they employ a team of six people, which is great news for Sarnia-Lambton. The strength of their model lies in the diversity of their product. From making race car driving dreams coming true, to encouraging a ‘repair rather than discard’ mindset around transmissions, Derkzen Motorsports and Sarnia Transmissions Services have got all your bases covered!
To learn more about Derkzen Motorsports you can find them on their Facebook page, or on their website www.derkzenmotorsports.com. Sarnia Transmission Services also has a Facebook page. Both businesses are located at 439 Palmerston St S. Derkzen Motorsports(519) 451-0404 Sarnia Transmission Service 519-337-7678 .