Time flys! It has been 20 years since I bought our office building at 233 Queen Street South. My, that was a time to remember.
I had just bought our cottage in 1999 with a hope and a prayer and was renovating an old stone house on Fiddlers Green for resale. At this time, Boyce was still in high school.
I remember the day clearly. We lived around the corner on Herkimer so I went by the old Corner Store on the corner of Queen and Charlton regularly.
Sitting at the light I looked sideways at the neglected building where the windows were papered over and the sad sign in the window read that the building was now in the hands of the lender. I immediately thought that it would be quite the deal to have our own building for the business but I was under such financial stress at the time I pushed it back in my mind. That was until an hour later my sister, Ellen Boyce (real estate agent), phoned me informing me of the availability of 233 Queen St. South. I said I just went by, but the thought of purchasing this building was completely out of my mind with the load I was carrying at the time.
That is why I can always understand our client’s stress levels when you are up to your ears in debt. Yes, I have lots of personal experience.
I bought it anyway for a very low price and had to sell everything except the cottage to renovate it top to bottom as it had reached quite a derelict state. We had to design the office and put in a two-story apartment for Boyce and I and a new 1 bedroom for rent. Even my regular contractors had their doubts about my success. It took my brother in law and me two weeks to level the main floor before we could even get started! Plastic hanging from the door and curious neighbours sticking their heads in wondering what was happening. Someone started a rumour it was going to be an icecream shop so children would come over to check on the progress regularly. LOL. Needless to say, they were disappointed when The Personal Mortgage Group sign went up.
At the time, the business was 9 years old, and already running a large book of business. I was under the false impression that if you build it, they will come. Especially with that location on two busy arteries, with 15,000 people a month sitting reading our signs. Well, it took another 3 years to see the signage work its magic and 5 more years for people to realize we were there for good!
We have never looked back.
I am rarely there now as Chris Horrocks has been with us for 9 years, Steve McKay joined us in 2013 and Boyce Collins after a 2-year stint in 2008 went on to master carpentry then returned to the fold in 2015. I call them our dream team and they are.
So, Happy 20th 233 Queen! I owe you one.