In 2011, Brooke Crowell was at a crossroad. He was well-into a physically demanding career with Efficiency Nova Scotia and wanted a job that was more in-line with his age that would, in his words, “pay a decent wage.” After a year of introspection and research, Crowell was his own boss: the private owner of Timberlea Tire in Timberlea, Nova Scotia. It was a practically organic transition for Crowell: “I have been changing tires on-and-off since I was 15-years-old, so I took the plunge and it paid off.” Seven years on, Timberlea Tire offers clients the best services, products, and prices in the Halifax area and a mobile fleet service in Atlantic Canada.
In the beginning, Timberlea Tire was not the respite Crowell had been seeking. “It originally started as a backyard business. They were long days. I would start in the early morning and often work until 11 at night. When we got even busier, we experienced resistance from our neighbours – they didn’t like the traffic volume. So, we had to relocate. The first garage I rented had no heat and no waiting area, but the clients were happy regardless because of my service and pricing. I knew I was on to something, so I continued to give it 110 percent – and still do,” explains Crowell.
Fast-forward six years and travel east from Timberlea along NS-103 for 10 minutes to 35 McQuade Lake Crescent in Bayer’s Lake – “One of the major concentrations of retail, light industrial and commercial activity in Greater Halifax” (www.bayerslake.ca). There you will find Timberlea Tire’s new home.
“It was a blessing when that first bay in Bayer’s Lake opened up. It was big step – and it took a bit of a leap of faith. We now have a waiting room, heat and a washroom. After working outside in all types of weather, moving indoors with in-floor heat felt like we hit the jackpot. This worked great and clients kept asking for more – more services, more appointments and the option to take over the rest of the building came up and here we are today.”
The acquisition of two additional onsite bays has really allowed Crowell to give his customers what they wanted. Timberlea Tire currently offers: New tire sales, installation, studding, repair, balancing, oil changes, full automotive repairs, and fleet services. What is more, these services are performed by Automotive Service Technicians who have been certified by the Inter-provincial Standards Red Seal Program. “We have hardworking young men who are there to get the job done in a timely fashion,” Crowell explains. “I ask that my workers have a good attitude, believe in our mission, and the growth of the company.” Off the bay floor and behind the counter, Crowell credits Carol Clattenburg with keeping Timberlea Tire between the ditches, so to speak: “She can often be seen helping me out in front with customers but mostly she manages our accounting and paperwork – the behind the scenes work.”
That mission, Crowell elaborates, has not changed since day one: “We don’t offer annual or seasonal discounts at Timberlea Tire; we offer daily discounts. Everything we do here is at a low markup because our mandate is to be affordable all the time. Even our new automotive services like alignments are affordably priced. The way we see it, our clientele are people like us: everyday, hardworking people. We work hard in Nova Scotia and deserve affordable prices. We offer and honour fair extended warranties. I don’t even look at it like we’re challenging our competitors directly – we’re car people and if we can use what we know and what we do to help hardworking people we feel like the rest will take care of itself.”
A quick visit to Facebook.com/TimberleaTire will show you that the hard- working people of Nova Scotia have taken to Crowell’s business model. They have given Timberlea Tire a 5/5 numerical review, not to mention the glowing – and some heartfelt – alphabetical ones.
Crowell’s empathy for the work force of his province has given him entrepreneurial insight since Timberlea Tire’s early days. Shortly after he moved his operation from his backyard, he began to dabble in mobile services around Greater Halifax. While Timberlea Tire found success on the road, Crowell says they were met with even broader resistance concerning traffic. A tune-up was in order. “Now we offer a mobile corporate fleet oil service in Greater Halifax and Moncton, New Brunswick. We have Oil Technicians who travel to your company and service fleet vehicles, light trucks, vans and cars onsite. This saves valuable down time for both the company and the employee.” The Mobile Oil Fleet Service also performs preventative maintenance.
The Mobile Oil Fleet Service is also one of the few elements of the Timberlea Tire business model that has not been pilfered by copycats. The competition – mostly “chain conglomerates,” according to Crowell – remains cloistered. It is, according to TimberleaTire.ca, “a service that no other oil change facility can offer, simply because vehicle maintenance is performed onsite.”
The self-funded lightweight that is Timberlea Tire has had the sponsored heavyweights in the corner in Halifax for some time – and it does not look like Crowell is listening for the bell. “Since the beginning, we’ve increased our market share exponentially, we’ve expanded the products we offer, and we continue to increase brand awareness in the Maritimes,” he explains. “As I see it, the only price war that exists is right here at Timberlea Tire. We’re always determined to get our clients the most affordable prices. They know we only do what needs to be done, we never replace anything unnecessarily or upsell in any way. We will keep doing what we do, keep clients happy and see where it goes.”
By David MacDonald