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Family lore has it, that John’s first word was “car”.
He grew up near the Ford Oakville Assembly Plant (OAP).
Is it a coincidence that John chose a career in the automotive industry?
As of March 1984, John was the youngest supervisor to be hired by the FORD MOTOR Company of Canada assigned to the Body Build Department. He was then promoted to the Paint Department as a Supervisor in the “prep” deck, where vehicles are inspected and sanded prior to being painted. He was then promoted to Supervisor of Spray Booth #5 and then proceeded to Trim, Chassis and Finalizing. Finalizing is the area of the Automotive Assembly where vehicles are inspected and water tested prior to being released to dealerships. Vehicles are driven onto a conveyor belt, passed through a tunnel with thousands of nozzles that spray approximately 3.6 gallons of water per minute at 26 psi over the body and undercarriage of each vehicle. The water is treated with phosphorescence that allows the inspectors at the end of the tunnel to use black light while looking for water leaks in the interior and trunks of the vehicles. Over time, John was promoted to Quality Control and then General Supervisor of Quality Control responsible for the entire plant during one shift.
John visited Ford Assembly plants throughout North America, soaking up knowledge from Ford engineers and other supervisors. He travelled to various dealership group meetings held throughout the U.S. and Canada, listening to dealership owners and staff talk about the negative impact water leaks have on their business. John met with various vendors who supplied sealing components and diagnostic equipment to Ford, learning about Ultrasonic and its application for vehicle leak diagnostics. Although Ultrasound was not then introduced to the testing process at the assembly plant for fear of displacing workers, John filed the information away.
In 1986 John bought a brand-new Ford Thunderbird. His pride and joy, however, it had a water leak! John knew exactly what was causing the leak – a missing body plug on the bulkhead. John took his car to the dealer for it’s first oil change and the leak repair. The next morning when John came to pick up his Thunderbird, he was told that it wasn’t ready. John asked why and was told the water leak was significant and the repair would take some time. John asked for the Service Manager and to be taken to his car, only to find that his pride and joy was stripped of it’s carpet and a black and silver tar like substance had been “painted” all over the bulkhead and engine bay! The Service Manger explained that they used an outside company to fix all their water leaks. When John advised him that simply replacing a missing grommet/body plug was all the vehicle needed, the Service Manager was incredulous. John proceeded to prove his point by pointing out the missing plug and water testing the vehicle, proving that the vehicle still leaked. The Service Manager stared at John in total disbelief. To make matters worse, in trying to repair the water leak, the sub-contractor removed the front driver seat, tearing the leather on the side. This misdiagnosis cost the dealership thousands of dollars for a new seat and the removal of the “tar like substance”. While the Service Manager stood looking at John, it dawned on John that there could very well be a business opportunity in repairing water leaks for dealerships.
John never completed university and as a result hit the proverbial “glass ceiling”, exhausting his opportunities at FORD. He commenced at the General Motors Scarborough Van plant in 1992 as Underbody Supervisor, responsible for everything under the vehicle. No sooner had he settled into this new role, General Motors announced that the Scarborough Van Plant would be closing in May 1993, after 41 years of operation. John then secured the position of Plant Manager for Advanced Brake Parts, an aftermarket brake manufacturing company.
While John was earning a living, he continued to ponder the negative impact water leaks had on dealerships and their customers. Over the next few years, he read articles and researched any information associated with automotive leak repairs. In January 1993, Ted Brindell, an Automotive columnist for the Toronto Star wrote a three-part series on automotive water leaks and wind noises, highlighting the challenges and costs incurred by dealerships. On February 3, 1993, John wrote Mr. Brindell about his idea of starting a business that would repair such leaks for dealerships. A few months later, Mr. Brindell wrote in his column that he had received a letter from an individual who was thinking about starting a mobile leak repair business, Mr. Brindell wrote: “I do not know if he started it or not, but what a great idea!”
Finally, in July 1996, John resigned from Advanced Brake Parts and took the plunge into the entrepreneurial pool. In August of that year, John founded LEAKPRO® INTERNATIONAL Incorporated, with the goal of filling the water leak repair void in the Automotive Aftermarket.
John had a very basic business plan: Year 1 – generate a $1,000.00 a month in sales; Year 2 – generate $3,000.00 a month in sales; Year 3 generate $5,000.00 a month in sales, etc. After all, this was a brand-new category in the Aftermarket Automotive sector, there was nothing on which to base his assumptions on.
On September 9, 1996, his first day of dealership cold calling, John visited Towne Chevrolet-Oldsmobile in Oakville, Ontario. He walked in and introduced himself to a service advisor, Domenic Almonte, handing him a business card. Domenic laughed and said that they have been working on a vehicle water leak for the past three days, if you can fix it, you’ll have their business. John diagnosed the problem, found the issue and had it repaired in 20 minutes. To be on the safe side, John water tested the vehicle for over an hour – no more leak! While Towne has since closed, LEAKPRO® still services the group’s other 6 dealerships!
You remember John’s basic business plan – year 1 average about a $1,000.00 in sales per month? Well, John’s first month in business produced $6,500.00 in sales. Subsequent months were even better. Time to rework the business plan but more importantly, as business started to gain traction, John needed help, he needed to hire an employee!
As luck would have it, John’s neighbour, Anthony (Tony) Cairns, had taken early retirement at 47 years of age from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, after 28 years of service. John and Tony both had dogs and inevitably they ended up seeing each other and talking almost daily when taking their dogs to the local dog park. Tony was quite interested in John’s new venture and had experienced a water leak in the trunk of his Mother’s car that had been finally repaired after 3 or 4 visits. Tony was growing bored in retirement and asked if he could ride along with John. Within two weeks, LEAKPRO® had it’s first employee. Tony took to the work like a duck to water and after 2 ½ months of working with John, Tony approached him with a business proposition. In February 1997, after 6 months of being in business, with the aid of one of the top franchise lawyers in Canada, Arthur Trebilcock of SOTO’s LLP, LEAKPRO® awarded its first franchise to Tony Cairns. To this day, Arthur Trebilcock is one of John’s most trusted legal advisors. A few months later, the Hamilton franchise was awarded to Paul Klingender and the Kitchener franchise was awarded to Lloyd Bradley. The rest is, as they say, history.
I had a great experience working with Mike and his team at LEAKPRO. They provided great quality work and excellent customer service, for a reasonable price. Mike and his team are very well-versed in this specialized area of car maintenance and they stand behind their work. Highly recommended!Calvin J, SurreyBC
After having my 2016 Buick Lucerne repaired unsuccessfully 6 times by my GM dealer I heard of LEAKPRO. I called LEAKPRO, John came out and had my car fixed in 1 hour. The front sunroof drain tubes from the factory were actually trapped at the dashboard. John installed two new drains and I have never had another leak!D. Barlow OttawaOntario
My LEAKPRO representative Jesse did a great job fixing an intermittent water leak that would wet the back seat of my new truck. Jesse quickly pinpointed the problem and fixed it. No leaks now! Great service!K. Peters VancouverBC
I had an ongoing issue with a leak in my 2017 F150 from under the left side dash. My Ford dealer could not pinpoint it after 4 times. The dealer finally called in LEAKPRO and the leak was resolved within a couple of hours. We have had a lot of rain, and no more leaks! LEAKPRO knows what they are doing!D. Wiley HamiltonOntario
I had a musty smell in my used car I had recently purchased. MY dealer called in LEAKPRO, and it was determined that the smell was due to a water leak. LEAKPRO fixed the leak, replaced all l the under pad and disinfected the flooring. My car smells great and no more leaks!A. Stayrer TorontoOntario
I had a big water leak in my brand new truck on the right side. I was so upset, my carpet was soaked! My Service Advisor said not to worry we use LEAKPRO. I received my vehicle back at the end of the day as promised, I felt the carpet it was dry! I lifted the carpet to check underneath and it was dry, all new under pad and fresh smelling. My service advisor informed me it was a skip in the sealer from the factory. I am so happy I had to write!B. Slater WindsorOntario
I had a wind noise on my brand new Charger that my dealer after two attempts could not figure out, it was driving me crazy. I went to another dealer and they said no worries we bring in an outside specialty company. I arrived at the dealership for my appointment as I wanted to drive my car with the technician so he could hear what I was experiencing. Steve from LEAKPRO said he knew what the issue was and had it fixed within an hour!!! THANK YOU LEAKPRO!J. Stanwich KitchenerOntario