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Your next tire change could come to you: SFU student launches tire shop on wheels
By Vivien Lee
Potential successors of family businesses are often trained from a young age to eventually take the wheel when the parents retire. However, some successors decide to not join the family business immediately, but to become entrepreneurs themselves. SFU Beedie student, Ethan Symons, and his brother, Brenden Symons, found themselves in this position last November.
The brothers grew up in their family’s tire and automotive shop that has been serving the Mission, BC community for more than 40 years. Working at the shop and helping customers change tires day in and day out got the brothers thinking about how to innovate in this traditional industry.
In November 2020 when they revisited their ideas during the pandemic lockdown, they decided to launch a mobile tire service. Ethan, who was taking BUS 236 at the time, learned to craft a financial forecast and set up a business plan in the course. Armed with the knowledge that their startup idea was feasible despite their limited overhead, they got to work acquiring a van and setting up supplier partnerships.
Their company, called Tires 2 Go, is a completely mobile and full-service tire shop servicing the Fraser Valley area. Drivers typically have to visit a brick-and-mortar automotive shop to change their tires due to the equipment required for the job. But Tires 2 Go innovated and fitted the inside of their work van with a tire machine and balancer so they can reach customers at their desired location. This new venture offers the much-needed flexibility that modern consumers seek and fulfills a demand that’s currently not served in the Lower Mainland.
Ethan recalls noticing a distraught driver pulled over on the side of the road. The person had popped his tires and was waiting several hours for his insurance roadside assistance to arrive.
“I was surprised that he was waiting so long just to get towed to a tire shop and not even to have his problem fixed,” says Ethan. “I told him about Tires 2 Go immediately and my brother was there within 20 minutes to install new tires for the customer on the spot.”
While innovating and building a startup has been a rewarding process for the brothers, they admit that the journey is challenging, and credit the knowledge and networks they gained from their family’s business as pivotal in their success. Fortunately, the demand for tires remains solid despite starting their business during the pandemic and they look forward to opportunities to expand their operations into more cities in BC.
Tires 2 Go receives entrepreneurship support from SFU’s Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection, an early-stage business incubator for SFU students, alumni, faculty and staff who are pursuing entrepreneurial ventures. Ethan is completing an entrepreneurship co-op (eCoop) term where he is working on his startup full-time while also receiving co-op credits with the support of the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship.
“I’m grateful for the mentorship I receive from my mentor, Albert Seah, in the Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection incubator,” says Ethan. “As a startup, we’re continually improving Tires 2 Go and Albert guides me through the priorities I should tackle as an entrepreneur.”