PORT AUX BASQUES – For René Roy, becoming an entrepreneur was hardly a lifelong dream. He was mostly seeking a lifestyle change, an escape from big city life, and that led him to Newfoundland.
“(In the city) you’re always worried about going for a walk in the middle of the day,” says Roy, who feels much less stressed. “Here it’s the exact opposite. You can go for a walk at four in the morning.”
Roy wasn’t happy working with Canada Post, where he had served as a letter carrier for over a decade. He came to rural Newfoundland to get away from the Halifax – particularly the noise, the expense and the escalating crime. On the practical side, Roy knew that jobs in his hometown can be hard to come by, so he decided to give self-employment a try.
“I knew I would have to do something to make a living.”
Initially he operated a coffee kiosk along the waterfront during the tourist season, but then launched his own delivery service after a conversation with neighbours. Almost a year later Channel Courier has carved itself somewhat of a niche market by delivering door-to-door, and by servicing areas left uncovered by other couriers on the Southwest Coast.
“What I do is a little different than what they do,” says Roy. “I handle the woman who doesn’t want to go get her pet food or the fellow who doesn’t want to drive out and get his ATV part. I go to Stephenville. I go to the Port au Port peninsula. And I go all the way to Rose Blanche because I deliver to the door.”
While Roy has built a loyal following among seniors and those who don’t want to spend $50 in gas to get a $20 part, it doesn’t form the bulk of his business. His ability to deliver large goods to all of the smaller communities in the region has earned him some company contracts too. But getting the word out about his company has proven the biggest challenge.
“What I do isn’t complicated and it’s not hard and it is valuable,” admits Roy, “but despite being in business for a year, there are still people in this town and in Corner Brook and Stephenville who haven’t heard of me.”
The slow growth is just fine with Roy, although he does hope to be able to hire on another driver within the next year. For now what is important is that he can still pay his bills, but easily find time to go on long fishing trips, or just relax with family and friends. And while he might be doing essentially the same work he did for the postal corporation, his quality of life has improved drastically.
“I’m a thousand per cent less stressed,” laughed Roy. “Five years ago I never would have thought I’d own my own business. It’s proven to be a challenge but it’s also proven to be fun. I’m enjoying it.”