DESIGN

PEOPLE // Grey & Bruce Counties // All in the Family

September 25, 2018 | PHOTOGRAPHY BY SARAH TACOMA

Fall 2018 // Family businesses share how they got their start.

There are many great family businesses in Grey and Bruce counties. Enjoy stories about how these companies got started.

GERALD & MICHAEL CRAWFORD
 
Tell us how your family business got its start: We started working with a local contractor at the age of 13, as it was the only company that would hire us as kids. We worked together for our younger years and then for about 10 years we went our separate ways – Gerald went to Alberta and I was in B.C. and Ontario. Last year, we decided to re-join forces and run the business here in Walkerton.
 
What is the focus of your company? We want to provide the best roofing system available that will work with the design of the building, while keeping all budgets in mind.
 
What do you enjoy most about the fall in Grey-Bruce? The harvest. We enjoy all of the fresh local produce and meat selections. By spending money within our communities we ensure that we help support local people to make a living so they can raise their families in this area as well.

PHIL & GEORGE MARTENS
 
Tell us how your family business got its start: We had been working alongside a friend of ours in the furniture business when he decided to move out of the area to pursue other things. That’s when he offered to help us get started on our own because he wanted the business to continue. We have expanded from only table and chairs to all types of solid wood furniture.
 
What is the focus of your company? The focus of Topnotch Furniture is to build the highest quality furniture for our clients. Whether you are looking for a standard piece of furniture that we have on the floor or if you want pieces custom built and unique to you, our goal is to deliver furniture that we are proud of and will serve you for many years.
 
What do you enjoy most about the fall in Grey and Bruce? Fall in Grey-Bruce is an awesome time of year as there is so much beautiful colour out there. We like to spend time hiking, biking and camping in the area – and it’s always enjoyable to spend the day delivering quality furniture in Grey-Bruce.

ROB, ERIN & TYSON WEPPLER, WITH DOG CHASE
 
Tell us how your family business got its start: At 21, Rob was an apprentice for a heating company in Allenford, which eventually led to a partnership with the company. Erin got involved with the bookwork and in 2002 they bought the business. The office and fabricating shop moved to the current location just north of Keady and Air-Tech Mechanical was born. Through the years, all of our kids have been involved and this summer Tyson (the youngest) is working as an Ontario Youth Apprentice.
 
How has your business expanded over the years? Keeping up with the changing times over the past 16 years has allowed us to offer our customers rebates and incentives, parts sourcing, warranty tracking and administration and the peace of mind of a long-standing business. A York dealer for almost 30 years and a supportive staff help to keep things running smoothly.
 
What do you enjoy most about the fall in Grey and Bruce? The changing of the seasons keeps our business very active. We try to do our best to be there for our customers during any weather condition – hot, cold or in between. Fall is an especially busy time for us with both new houses and renovations nearing completion, heating upgrades and maintenance of equipment prior to the cold winter temperatures.

TIM, ANDY & KRIS VAN DOLDER
 
Tell us how your family business got its start: Andy Van Dolder began his career in the home improvement business in his teens, selling doors for his brother out of the back of his truck. In 1964, he opened Cash and Carry Aluminum in Annan and after many years of successfully growing the business, the company eventually became the Van Dolder’s Home Team. In 2009, with his two sons, Kris and Tim, Andy constructed a new village-style showroom at their landmark location on Highway 26 in Owen Sound. This spring they opened a second showroom in Collingwood.
 
What is the focus of your company? The Van Dolder’s Home Team sells and installs some of the best quality home improvement products. This includes windows, doors, siding, decking, awnings, pergolas, eaves, gutters, garage doors and finishing touches for homes and cottages. If it goes on the outside of your house, you’ll find it on the inside of ours!
 
What do you enjoy most about the fall in Grey and Bruce? The fall means a return to following the young children around to different arenas as they play hockey. It’s also a time for getting together to share family barbecues and spending time outdoors enjoying the fall colours.

SIMON SMITH, PATTY SMITH & BOB MANZER
 
Tell us how your family business got its start: Simon grew up near Ottawa and started as a driller’s helper at 15 years old. He worked up through the ranks and opened his own well drilling business in 1976. In the 1990s Simon started Smith Water Systems, installing and servicing pumps, pressure tanks and water treatment systems. The first store front opened in Erin and is now run by our daughter Julie. In February 2018, we purchased McCann Water Systems and opened our second location in the beautiful Beaver Valley.
 
What is the focus of your company? Both of our locations have a team of licensed technicians to service drilled, dug and bored wells and offer well upgrades, chlorination, decommissioning and well yield tests. We service and install well pumps, and all types of water treatment equipment, such as water softeners, iron removers, UV disinfection systems, RO systems and particle filters.
 
What do you enjoy most about the fall in Grey and Bruce? There are no bad seasons in Grey and Bruce! Every season has its own beauty and activities to enjoy. The fall is spectacular and abundant with colour on the trees, the fields with harvest, the apple orchards and the Meaford Scarecrow Invasion and Family Festival. Warm sunny days for hiking, biking and garden chores and cool crisp nights with campfires and hot chocolate.

ALICIA & CHRIS JOHNSON
 
Tell us how your family business got its start: Gordon Johnson was in business in the United Kingdom as Johnson Construction for 18 years before emigrating to Canada in 1997. He and his wife Vanessa entered Canada under the entrepreneur scheme. Having settled in Grey County, he started Bay Landscapes and Pools soon after arriving. Son Christopher was in school and upon completion he entered the business and has been a part of it ever since. He now is a 50 per cent owner and is responsible for the HighR Construction part of the company.
 
What is the focus of your company? The focus of the company is to offer exceptional quality of work at a fair price with no unseen extras at completion. The price you’re quoted is the price you pay.
 
What do you enjoy most about the fall in Grey and Bruce? The weather in Grey and Bruce in the fall is ideal for working and the fall colours are usually spectacular. There are many things to do without travelling far.

JORDAN & STEVE CUNEO
 
Tell us how your family business got its start: Cuneo’s was started in 1948 by Jordan’s grandfather, Tony Cuneo, who saw the need for a specialty decorating store offering products and services. The products carried were paint, wallpaper, flooring, window shades, and custom-made drapery fabricated on our own premises.
 
What is the focus of your company? We provide quality Benjamin Moore paint, floor and wallcoverings and custom window fashions. Our interior design consultants and professional flooring and ceramic tile installers always focus on giving our clients the best value for their investment.
 
What do you enjoy most about the fall in Grey and Bruce? Naturally, we enjoy the autumn colours of Grey and Bruce and the refreshing, peaceful outdoors. After being born and raised in Bruce County, and then experiencing the big city hustle, but choosing to return to work and raise our families here – well, there’s not much more a person could ask for.

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