Business Vancouver Island: Podcast #2 Vancouver Island Market

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Kael: Welcome to the Business Vancouver Island Podcast, I’m Kael Campbell.

John: And I’m John Keirstead.

Kael: Today we’re going to touch on the wear of doing business on Vancouver Island, it’s one of the largest islands in the world, Vancouver Island and I’ve been fortunate enough to play hockey or do business in almost every single town and John.

John: Well, I’ve now just opening my third store on the Island here, the hot tubs are pretty popular on the Island here and we’ve got one in Parksville, one in Duncan and now one opening up in Victoria, and we deliver them all over the Island so we’ve seen lots of those same communities as well and one of the things that’s really, you really realize how big it is when you’re delivering products all over the island.

I couldn’t believe how far port McNeill is from here for instance, right? But yeah, it’s a big island with lots of small, very cool communities. Tofino is a great community that we go to all the time. The other thing I didn’t realized is the mountain, I had no idea there were ski hills or anything like that being from Edmonton, and it’s amazing, you know we’ve done a few things with EO up there, and you’re from Courtney so you’re like right there, Mt. Washington is your backyard right?

Kael: Yeah, Mt. Washington is definitely a bit of a jewel and we also have a smaller mountain, Mt. Cain, and yeah, when you.

John: (cross talked) know that, there you go.

Kael: When you’re either an employer trying to attract people to Vancouver Island or looking at new markets or even hiring somebody, you know you’ve got to think the whole Island because there’s definitely opportunities that you really need to tap into, you know you touched on Tofino, they’ve got 6,000 tourist every year and about 2,000 residents, so it’s a very interesting spot, very close to Ucluelet in Port Alberni, you know, maybe a difficult town to have employees in, you know it’s one of their biggest issue is employee accommodation but like yourself, being able to service Tofino from a centralized location such as.

John: Yeah, we do everything pretty much, as far as delivering and servicing customers is all done out of our Duncan store which is fairly central and then, but we get calls from all over, even the gulf islands, even the Sunshine coast we get calls from there as well. So it is unique that the thing I really like about Tofino is it is really its own kind of feel and culture, very artsy, lot of artisans, excellent restaurants and stuff, it’s a lot higher end than I would have expected but you’ve also got the, you know the surfer mentality and stuff like that too, which I think is just a really cool unique place. In Edmonton the only place that I can think of that’s even close to this is White Avenue, you know it’s sort of the same sort of feel but it’s definitely not Tofino, you know it’s an amazing place.

Kael: Yeah, Tofino is really unique. I was just there with my family and I actually drove by the Tofino resort in Marina, which Dan Hamhuis and Willie Mitchell, you know, former Canucks, but NHL’ers, but Andrew Purdy, another entrepreneur have purchased and redeveloped. A good friend of mine has a painting business here in Victoria and he went up to Tofino and repainted the whole resort.

John: Oh wow.

Kael: And you know it’s amazing how it’s a smaller, under populated as far as residence, but a lot of people who have businesses or doing business there or benefiting from the tourism, you know whether it’s Harbour Air or Air Canada.

John: Well, a lot of people are moving here too, like I mean I’m one of them. You know we’re figuring out the other day, it’s 6 years that I’ve been on the island now, and it’s just amazing the number of people that we see because we sell hot tubs, right? So people are buying homes and then like ‘I want a hot tub for the house.’ You know, it’s like ‘oh, where are you from?’ ‘Saskatoon. Winnipeg. Edmonton. Calgary.’ Pretty much cold places, lots of people have tied that I guess (inaudible) the snow. But yeah, they’re from all over, setting up in very different areas. So where do you see, like in our business we see like Comox Valley has just been exploding like you said Langford co-ed, like I remember when I was first year at Roads, Roads is right in Colwood and it’s totally different now, that whole area is totally changed. What other areas do you think are growth areas?

Kael: Yeah, definitely Sooke as well, I mean you’re looking at almost double in population over a period of about 20 years, and that Colwood, Langford, Sooke corridor, and that’s huge because they’ve got some developable land and some densification opportunities, right? And here in Victoria we’re really struggling to find more housing, to develop more housing so, you know those bedroom communities  are huge because there’s implement opportunities for spouses that you know, if somebody’s coming in to work for the government, you know there’s lots of stuff going on right there. Also you know, you’d mentioned Port McNeill.

John: Yeah.

Kael: I’ve played quite a bit of hockey and actually flown in there and out of there on float plains as a commercial fish man when I was paying my way through a university, so you know the northern tip of the island, Port Alice is going through a bit challenging times with the continued closure of their port out there but there’s tourism opportunities, there’s residence who buy there for the lower cost of housing, and Port Hardy which is really the gateway to the Great Bear Rainforest, which has been featured in the most recent Imax film, so definitely the north island which is a jumping off point from Campbell river. You know it’s a bit of a stretch to do business in those northern spots but it’s easier for somebody in Campbell to do business up there than it is somebody from Duncan, Nanaimo, Victoria.

John: Absolutely, yeah.

Kael: Definitely Campbell river’s got some amazing recreation and you know, they’ve got a fairly nice airport, you can easily get in and out, and it’s got a beautiful boating, you know, number of things that make it a special town and Rob Brydon, the former NHL’er I believe helped with the Ice rink there. So it’s got some major plusses and still can service Courtney, Comox, and Nanaimo (that’s crazy?)

John: Yeah it’s close, I was surpriced, like that whole Comox Valley, I include Campbell river in that, I don’t know if they’ll like it if we did that, but I included in there because it’s really all within about a half an hour, you know you see lots of people from Courtney going to Campbell river and from Campbell river going to Courtney and you know, that’s where our next store is going to go for sure because there’s just so much growth up in that area in general, it’s arguably as big of a market as the Victoria market.

Kael: Great, great, yeah that’s you know, the island highway you know, when I grew up it was couple of hours to get from you know Nanaimo to Courtney but now with what it is now, a 25 year old high way, it’s great, you know they’ve been adjusting the speed limits and stuff, but you know you can still safely get up in island in most days as long as there’s not a snow storm, and you can get to Campbell river quite quickly, you know get back to Duncan, south island really quickly, so that’s been a huge advantage because you know, people feel we’re a little bit stock on island as far as transportation options but it’s seems like we’re getting new options all the time.

John: Yeah, absolutely. It’s actually not as much of a comute, I mean everywhere in Alberta is a long way away, you know I was surprised, from my Duncan store to Parksville, it’s an hour. You know, almost to maybe a little past an hour, maybe I speed a little bit, and then down here from Duncan to Victoria is about the same depending on traffic, but for the most part, it’s not that bad. They’ve expanded quite a bit, I have to see the Malahat better, I don’t know if it’s the best that it can be but it’s certainly better, so.

Kael: Great.

John: Cool.

Kael: Well and finally, we can’t forget Victoria and the surrounding municipalities, you know Oak bay, Saanich, Sidney. Sidney’s doing some great work on expanding the airport in their municipal structure there. So yeah, the south island is a beautiful spot to do business as well, so.

John: Well and lots of people. I mean you know it’s like a little Vancouver in a way you know, you get all the plusses of Vancouver without the larger city (huddled?) and stuff I’d just, I don’t know, it’s perfect size as far as I’m concerned.

Kael: Great. Alright, well that does it for this episode of the Business Vancouver Island podcast, I’d like to thank my co-host John.

John: Yeah thanks, thanks for having me.

Kael: Dennis and also Kevin who’s responsible for theme music and finally EO Vancouver Island, great group of entrepreneurs, and we’ll talk to you next week about the ‘what of doing business on Vancouver Island’ ‘what type of business could you do on Vancouver Island’

John: Looking forward to it.

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