The Handyman of Huron

Steve Wilson

The Handyman of Huron

Many adults have made the life altering decision of returning to school for a variety of reasons whether it's due to becoming unemployed or just wanting to make a change. Georgian College's, Margaret Hodgins, points out that, "Many adults are upgrading their general knowledge or learning entirely new skills. Many people don't realize that, fortunately, at the College, basic upgrading is free. Undoubtedly, most are in their 20s and 30s but there are also several who are considerably more mature."

 Steve Wilson of Southampton was one of those who decided to make a lifestyle change. In fact, he has made several changes through the years, from being a professional musician who traveled on the road to working as a draftsman in Guelph's Engineering Department. When Wilson moved to Southampton, it was to begin yet another new venture in life. He took a job in hardware retail where he worked for six years and explains that, "In every position I've held, I've tried to learn as much as possible by taking courses that related to the field I was in at that time."

 He goes on to add that, "At one time, 25 years ago, I had had my own small home business crafting Scandinavian rockers. Even then, in the back of my mind, I guess I always knew that I wanted to work for myself. As with anything in life though, timing is everything." When his job in retail became redundant, Wilson made the decision to start over again in a field that interested him.

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 "I began to look at different opportunities and found there was a definite need for people in this area (Saugeen Shores) who could do simple handyman jobs. It's an area highly populated by seniors, or as I like to call them, seasoned residents, and others who can't do things like minor electrical, plumbing and carpentry jobs around the home. The booming economy in our area and the demographics of an aging population seemed to me to be the right for this kind of business. "

His first step was to contact VPI Complete Employment Solutions in Owen Sound. VPI provides both access to government funded programs and counseling for adults re-entering the workforce. In addition, the company opens the door to a network of community support and initiatives. VPI directed Wilson to the Business Enterprise Centre established by the Ontario Government. It is partially funded by the Federal Government to provide free assistance and counseling for those who are considering the option of establishing a small business. Program assistance is provided for those who are eligible under the Self-Employment Benefit (SEB).

"I met with the Manager at the Centre, Jane Phillips, and found the first thing I had to do was complete a business proposal. It had to include local Saugeen Shores surveys based on the possibilities that exist for the type of business I wanted to start. For me, the business plan was a huge eye opener into my own personality and skill-sets. It taught me how to relate to people effectively and, particularly, how to approach them and listen to their needs."

Once his business and feasibility plan were completed and submitted, Wilson was accepted into a program, in conjunction with the Bruce County Futures Development Corporation and working with business consultant Cliff Bilyea. "Each small business in the program is monitored monthly to see how things are progressing," adds Wilson. "That process continues until everything is up and running and it's great knowing that someone is always there to lend a helping hand and give advice."

"I was also amazed," he adds, "at the support systems that are available and I just can't say enough good things about them or the people who run them. Being unemployed can actually be an opportunity to move forward in life and can open the doors to self-employment - and you don't need a ton of money to do it." Today, Wilson owns and operates his own business in Saugeen Shores, 'The Handyman of Huron', but he also still continues to make music playing with his group, Klafluti.