THUNDER BAY -- First-time business owner James Derro moved to Thunder Bay for a franchise opportunity. Originally from Sudbury, he noticed that Thunder Bay didn’t have a name-brand spray liner company in the area. “There was definitely a need for it,” he says. “It’s a truck country, right?”
In the summer of 2018, he relocated to Thunder Bay with his dog Moose and found his ideal location on May street. “It’s a main street, it’s close to dealerships, and I really liked the area,” he says. The former Beer Store had been a warehouse for a couple of years and it took a good amount of work to bring it back to life. Line X of Thunder Bay opened in November 2018.
Business has been good, Derro says. He works with many of the dealerships in town, providing spray-on protective coatings for anything from truck bedliners to trailers. He has even done the full exterior of a Jeep Cherokee. The durable coating resists scuffs and corrosion, and can be easily cleaned with a pressure washer - or even just rain.
“There’s nothing like this in Thunder Bay,” Derro says with pride. Because the coating he uses dries so quickly, customers can drop off their vehicle (or whatever they want protected) and pick it up within half a day. He is also working on getting a mobile rig together so that he can service all of Northwestern Ontario.
When he initially opened, he thought he might face some pushback because he is a franchise of a big company from Alabama, but he was pleasantly surprised to find that Thunder Bay embraced him and his business. “In a way, I’m local, I’m from northern Ontario, and the community has really been behind us,” he says.
Derro says he likes how people in Thunder Bay value local. “Thunder Bay’s got great community, local food, local events, and these are things that you just don’t find in a city of the same size elsewhere,” he says.
Being a first-time business owner has its challenges - and rewards. “[A big challenge is] the unknown - you jump in with both feet and figure it out,” Derro says. “But you get back what you put into it.”