If you were to ask Canadians living outside British Columbia what comes to mind when asked about Vancouver Island, they would most likely mention coastal beauty, ancient rainforests, thrilling whale sightings, magnificent flower gardens and, of course, the capital of British Columbia, Victoria.
When asked about the residents? You’ll probably hear Islanders are a laid back sort, nature lovers who prefer mountain bikes to motor bikes, a slow pace to a fast one and granola to grease. If this stereotype is true, someone forgot to tell the people working in the automotive aftermarket. In direct contrast to stereotypes, the industry on the island is a pressure cooker, saturated with fiercely competitive jobbers, all of whom are scrapping and clawing to maintain, let alone grow market share.
So what was the Greenwood family thinking in 2010 when it bought controlling interest in Nanaimo-based Videl Auto Body Supplies and opened a jobber store in Victoria the following year? Bret Greenwood, Partner and current Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Rondex will tell you it was because they saw an opportunity to own an established, reputable business, anchored by a strong, diverse team.
Rondex services the Vancouver Island Region from two stores, one in Nanaimo and the other in Victoria. The Nanaimo location was originally a Bumper-to-Bumper store in the 70’s then became Videl Auto Body Supplies, specializing in automotive paint and associated products. Store ownership changed a few times until 2010 when the Greenwood family opened the purse strings.
While ownership has changed hands numerous times over the years, the business strategy has remained consistent—serving only body shops, collision centers, auto restoration specialists and DYI’ers. Focusing on these niche markets enabled the employees to understand the products inside and out. This product knowledge, combined with honesty and respect toward customers built a very loyal customer base, which the long-term employees will tell you have allowed the business to withstand the test of time. Through both good and poor economic times customers could always rely on the Nanaimo store for the best products at a fair price and the proper advice to get their job done.
Nanaimo store veterans Glenn Smith (Outside Sales) and Sandy Hampton (Inside Sales) are each over ten years in their current roles and both over 30 years in the trade. When it comes to body shops and body shop supply, Glenn Smith has done it all. He started off “on-the-bench” in the sixties, up until 1977 when he decided to try his hand at owning and running his own shop. He eventually closed up in 1981 to take a stab at working for a jobber when he took employment with Videl Auto Body Supplies. In 1987 he decided like so many employees before him that he could do it better and decided to open and operate his own jobber store (notice a trend?) which he did until 1998. Glenn eventually ended up back at Videl, this time as a sales rep, and he’ll tell you that owning his own business twice has allowed him to gain a true understanding of what it means to serve one’s customers. He believes it’s this understanding that has allowed him to forge lifelong relationships. In fact, many of Glenn’s current customers bought from him back when he owned his own jobber store.
Glenn’s territory includes Nanaimo, Crofton, Chemainus, Ladysmith, Parksville, Qualicum, Port Alberni, Courtenay, and Campbell River and more. He even makes regular trips as far north as the remote and rustically beautiful Port Hardy. Sandy Hampton started his career prepping and painting for Tom Brown’s Auto Body and Upholstery, arguably one of the island’s oldest body shops, and eventually found his way to Meyer’s Holland Motors where he painted until they closed the collision centre doors. This prompted him to take employment at Videl Auto Body Supplies where he’s been for the last 13 years. Sandy is like the glue that binds everything together at the Nanaimo store and a veritable wealth of product knowledge.
Rounding out the Nanaimo team is Jon Pollock (Inside Sales/Delivery Driver), who has quickly shown that he’s prepared to do what’s necessary to ensure the success of the business. The gentlemen at the Nanaimo store can be reached at 1-877-RONDEX2 (766-3392) x 4.
The second Rondex location on the island is located in Victoria on 676 Alpha Street. Pivotal to the setup and success of this store is Brian “Buck” Ford (Business Development) who was recruited from within the industry and serves to run the store in addition to calling on collision centres. Buck has 17 years of industry experience under his belt, a seemingly endless supply of energy, and an unparalleled passion for the business. He takes great pride in being extremely familiar with the products he sells, as well as being in tune with his customer’s needs. Buck’s territory includes but is not limited to: Otter Point, Sooke, Langford, Colwood, View Royal, The Highlands, Saanich, Esquimalt, Victoria , Sidney, Central Saanich, North Saanich, Cobble Hill, Mill Bay, and Duncan.
Based in Victoria is Buck’s right hand man and jack of all trades Travis Sapala (Inside Sales). Travis is an avid import car enthusiast who enjoys building his own project cars. Travis spends most of his time at the Victoria store and is quickly becoming a product expert in his own right. The most recent addition to the Victoria team is Jake “The Snake” Carroll (Delivery Driver). Jake has 40 years of experience in the auto body trade and has done it all, from restoration to collision repair. Jake has even owned his own body shop.
Buck, Travis and Jake can be reached by calling 1-877-RONDEX2 (766-3392) x 3. Both locations are more than happy to quote on any of the over 90 product lines carried including: Cromax Pro, Dupont Industrial Coatings, Nason, Imron Elite, 3M, Transtar No Mix, Evercoat, Norton, Dominion Sure Seal, and of course the Rondex Private Label Line.
Despite such a competitive market, the future of both Vancouver Island locations is very promising. There are a handful of reasons for this, but arguably the most significant is that the employees are just as committed to breaking stereotypes as they are to breaking sales records.