We’re always proud to highlight some of the incredible Alberta entrepreneurs and small business owners that we work with. Pascal Richard started Olympic Property Services in April 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The name “Olympic” comes from his background as an Olympic athlete; Pascal competed in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in Skeleton (that means sliding headfirst down the bobsleigh track at almost 125km/hr). Olympic Property Services is a property maintenance business, servicing the town of Cochrane and surrounding areas with grass cutting, junk removal, and property checks when clients are away. Once he had his business idea in place, he started telling family and friends knowing that it would help him follow through with getting things off the ground. He’s had a busy first season but things are just getting started; Pascal is now hoping to hire some summer students to help out with the workload.

Stop thinking about it and do it!  Call Business Link and they will coach you through it.  I spent lots of time on my business plan which allowed to me visualize this as a viable venture.

We connected with Pascal earlier this month to ask him a few questions about his business, his journey in entrepreneurship, and his experience as an Indigenous entrepreneur in Alberta.

This feature is shared in acknowledgement and celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21. To learn more about our Indigenous Services team and some of our other Indigenous clients, explore the page below.

Olympic Property Services

Client: Pascal RICHARD (Tewisha)

I am a Mohawk descent from Kanesatake, QC. My Blackfoot name is Inii’poo’ka (Buffalo Son).

Business: Olympic Property Services

Website: www.olympicpropertyservices.ca

Launched in: April 2021

facebook Olympic Property Services on Facebook

Tell us more about your business and what it is/does:

Olympic Property Services (OPS) is a property maintenance company that services the town of Cochrane and surrounding areas with grass cutting, light hauling, junk removal, and property checks when clients are away.

How did you come up with your business idea?

For the past 5 years, friends and colleagues were asking what I would do after I retired from the RCMP. I always told them I would just enjoy a flexible, stress-free, grass-cutting job. Retirement came a couple of years ago and it took me that long to get back on my feet from PTSD and to have the courage to start the business. Along the way, a realtor friend of mine asked me on few occasions to take loads to the landfill and I started thinking that combined with my love for antiques, I should consider getting a large trailer and charge people for clean-up and landfill runs. Doing property checks on residences while people are away was something that came from my years of policing with the RCMP and patrolling areas such as Bearspaw, Springbank, and Elbow Valley. I always wondered if some of these residents had a designated person that would look after their property while they were away.

I called the business “Olympic” because I am a former Olympian and participated in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games in the sport of Skeleton (sliding headfirst down the Bobsleigh track at speeds topping 125km/hr).

Olympic Property Services

What motivated you to take the first steps and start your own business?

I got up one morning and started telling family and friends that I was going to start a property services business. I knew that after I had mentioned it to few people, I had to follow through even though I was extremely scared of stepping out of my comfort zone.

What was the first step? Where did you start?

Knowing I wanted to do something that needed a good pickup truck to haul my equipment and trailer, I purchased a one-ton truck at a good price 6 months ago. For the next few months, I kept looking at my purchase in the driveway. It was a reminder to find the motivation to start my business. After a friend told me about Business Link, and I went through the website reading material, I finally called and spoke to Perry. That afternoon, I started gathering equipment and making concrete plans. It was the push I needed to get set up.

I am the sole proprietor of OPS. The main challenge I face is that that work is not steady. For example, I worked 63 hours one week and only 8 hours the week after. Having never been self-reliant, I struggle with paperwork and marketing on media outlets such as Facebook, Varagesale, Kijiji. My strengths are that I am a hard worker and I do an exceptional job for my clients. I never leave something imperfect. I would like to work on Aboriginal land because I want to give back to my people but I find it almost impossible to get the right contacts as I am from a different band in Quebec.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the decision I made 6 weeks into this business venture to purchase a tri-axle trailer that I have put to work 2-3 times a week hauling various materials. It felt like an intimidating investment, but taking the risk seems to be paying off.

When did you come to Business Link and why?

I had some Aboriginal friends from Siksika that used Business Link in the past and told me they were very useful and could help me start my business. I had the misconception that Business link was going to build a Business Plan for me, give me some funds to start up, and help design my website. In the end, I am glad they didn’t, as I had to jump in with both feet and understand every aspect of what I was getting into so that I could sustain it on my own in the future. They coached me along the way, however, and I am grateful.

Perry Kocis was my main contact, but everyone I spoke to from Business Link was helpful. Perry and the team at Business Link have lots of contacts and are knowledgeable. I was struggling with decisions such as building a Sole Proprietorship or Corporation, whether or not to use a bookkeeper, learning to build a website, and finding ways to promote myself. Business Link provided me with options, helped build my confidence and be realistic about what I was getting into.

Have any other organizations been helpful along the way?

Yes! I am grateful to CIR Realty Kendra Watt Group for introducing me to some opportunities and new clients. Brian McCaskill with the SPEC HDD team for giving me the opportunity to haul, site clean and backfill for a large Fibre Optic project ongoing in Calgary at the moment.

If you could go back and do one thing differently, what would it be?

I would have started in February instead of April. That would have given me the chance to better promote my business in order to get more regular lawn maintenance contracts.

Olympic Property Services

Was there one thing or moment that was defining for you and your business?

I was always intimidated at having to build a website. I suspected that if I had someone else build it for me, I would lose control of the content and changes I would want to make along the way.  I purchased a 5-year term domain with Go Daddy and built my own website by following the templates offered.  It cost me $700 total and I can go back and add pictures/content or change prices as I wish.  It took me 5 hours to build but that also gave me the confidence to go forward with this business independently.

What advice would you share with others who want to start or grow their own business?

Stop thinking about it and do it!  Call Business Link and they will coach you through it. I spent lots of time on my business plan which allowed to me visualize this as a viable venture.

What’s coming up next for you? Any big business goals?

I have sent a proposal to the Stoney Nation for land clean-ups/ junk removal where I would like to hire 3 summer Native student workers to help me out with the clean-ups. I am hoping that It will move forward and that I can work with them.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I have a 48’ industrial zero turn lawnmower that I would love to put to work.  I also would like to acquire more hauling jobs in the future to put my trailer to work. Because it has a capacity of hauling 8 tons, the possibilities are unlimited. I am just starting to receive phone calls and emails regarding property checks and would also like to build this facet of my business in the future.