It’s no small feat to run a business successfully for 25 years.
And the secret, at least for Williams Lake Honda owners Nancy and Ryan Watt, is to keep a tight-knit group of family and friends around to help out.
“We work and play together. And most of the time we get along,” Nancy joked.
Nancy and Ryan’s son, Mitchell Watt, 22, works as a partsman and in sales at the shop.
Margaret Vanderburg has been with Williams Lake Honda for 17 years working as an accountant and bookkeeper.
And family friend Wade Delainey heads up the service and repair shop and is a red seal mechanic.
Local high school student Jevin Weinert comes after school a few times during the week to help out around the shop, also.
Nancy and Ryan’s other two children, Brody and Mackenzie, have also spent time working at the shop in the past. Brody currently works as a partsman and salesman at Carter Motorsports in Vancouver. Mackenzie is currently in her third year of landscape design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
Nancy said buying the business 25 years ago was a big change for the family. She’d been working in Williams Lake as a graphic designer, while Ryan was an electrician.
When Ryan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis he decided a career change was in order. But he still wanted to be in a field he’d enjoy just as much as his previous career.
“People change careers, and he always liked that little shop [the old Williams Lake Honda on Broadway Avenue] and Honda bikes,” Nancy said. “Ryan went in there one day — he’d always liked to tinker and fiddle with stuff — and he asked the guy to please call him if he ever decided to sell.”
The family bought the business in 1988 and stayed in the original building for five years. As they grew they moved to a location beside Chuck’s Auto, where they stayed for 10 years, before buying the current storefront on South Lakeside Drive.
Williams Lake Honda provides full sales and service of Honda and KTM motorbikes, ATVs and power equipment and has a fully-equipped solar and marine shop. And, they provide repairs to all of the products they sell right at the store.
“Ryan and his friend Kent Bernier — he owns the building with us with his truck shop company Bernier Holdings — they’d meet just about every night at our house and talk about how they could buy this building and add on,” Nancy said. “So they filled that whole parking lot in and we went from there.”
Originally, Nancy said she wasn’t very involved with the business.
“I was working as a graphic designer and then we bought the shop and had kids, so I quit my job and just kind of started hanging around,” she said. “We had three kids so I wasn’t around a lot, but I did what I could until the kids got older.
“It was pretty crazy because it was a man’s place. When we first got it I started out doing the books and, obviously, we grew so we needed a bookkeeper, a proper one, so Margaret came. I’d fill in for her when she was on holidays. It was pretty casual, but now I’m here every day. I couldn’t even sell a spark plug before.”
Ryan said they’re proud to offer good customer service in a friendly environment.
“Service is very important to us,” Ryan said. “We can get just about anything you see online here, and we can be more selective at a good price.”
Mitchell, an avid motocross racer, added he’s always enjoyed working for the family business, and said he gets to work in a field he enjoys.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “You get to be close to the family and it’s awesome working around here, too, because I get to work and play.”
Delainey, too, added it’s a great family to work for, and said he enjoys the work he does.
“I’ve been here eight years,” he said. “It’s good working here. We have a lot of good times and we’ve been family friends for as long as I can remember.”
“I figure if Wade can’t fix it it’s unfixable,” Nancy added.
This Saturday, April 27, Williams Lake Honda will celebrate its 25th anniversary at its storefront, located at 1065 South Lakeside Drive.
Staff at Williams Lake Honda will be hosting a barbecue, demos and door prizes, with all of the proceeds going to Cariboo Search and Rescue.
“Stop by, have a burger, and help out search and rescue,” Nancy said.
The barbecue gets underway at 11 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m.
“The barbecue will be by donation and all the proceeds are going to them.”
For more on Williams Lake Honda visit its Facebook page or its website at www.williamslakehonda.com.