Interview With Graham Ovenden – CEO of Northside Autosports
Graham R Ovenden started Northside Autosports ™ in 2000 while in high school. In 2002 Graham and team opened the first outlet in Halton Hills, Ontario. Northside Autosports ™ is now a nation wide chain of automotive aftermarket sales and service facilities. Since that time he has completed a plethora of technical courses in automotive services, studies as a para-legal, ethics, automotive dealer (dealer principle/distributor) and served on the board of directors of multiple companies. Graham is also the Chairman of Northside Alliance Group, Northside Automotive Group Corp and the President of Titan Motorcycle Co ®.
BeTheBoss.ca: What’s the story behind Northside Autosports?
Graham Ovenden: When I was very young I wrote a business plan for a garage I would own when I was older with my Grandfather and Father called the Northside Garage. When I was 18 and decided to open my first location, I pondered long and hard what the brand name should be, and it felt right.
BTB: What made you decide to franchise?
GO: Long before we as a team even understood the importance and value in helping people start their own business, we received many application for franchises. When the time came to grow again, we decided the only way to do so properly was to align ourselves with people who wanted to invest in their selves while still being a part of a larger family-brand. Franchising was determined as the best growth model for the concept for this reason and because of the long built up demand for this offering.
BTB: Tell us a little about the automotive Market?
GO: Our industry is unique in that although there are many large corporations involved it is still based on a solid foundation of grass roots & humble business practices & people. As a counter point the products and services that flow through this industry are always on the cutting edge of products and service offerings and we see innovations “bear fruit” on an hourly basis which makes it an ever (and rapidly) evolving organism in its own right.
BTB: What have some of the challenges been in growing your franchise?
GO: Truthfully the hardest thing is always the marrying of the concept – operator and location.
BTB: Who has been your greatest inspiration?
GO: My family for their uncanny perseverance regardless of circumstances, my wife for her amazing patience, and my grandfather for his amazing foresight and calm natured leadership abilities.
BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a Northside Autosports franchisee?
GO: The obvious reasons would be effective sales and marketing support programs, aggressive branding, huge supplier relationships (over 60 distribution companies), etc. But I think the more important virtue someone should consider with our chain and why we are considered the “fastest growing aftermarket auto chain in Canada” is our philosophy of nurturing a family environment, which promotes success within its family through a competitive environment.
BTB: What “Gadgets” (Blackberry, Iphone, Ipod, etc) can’t you live without?
GO: I think I would be useless without my mac book.
BTB: What do you do in your spare time?
GO: Write, see movies, read comics, work on my cars, spend time with my family & bulldog, and always seem to end up building something for someone.
BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
GO: Always follow your passion. No matter how much you think you can make with any concept it is all a moot point if you do not love what you are doing.
BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that Northside Autosports would be a great opportunity for someone?
GO: If you love cars we are the most progressive concept you will find and our platform allows our concept to grow with new innovations in the automotive manufacturing field without limitations. Where as most if not all of our competitor’s long term could end up being obsolete as new technologies and platforms in vehicle technologies are introduced. Plus and this is probably the hard truth on why we get so many applications for our concept…..its a VERY enjoyable industry to work in.