Arend Driegen, owner of Arend’s Specialty Kompany (ASK), is soon opening a Houston retail shop, selling automotive and industrial hardware.
The Houston retail store is just an expansion of his company, started in 2006 as a wholesale distributer, selling specialty products including automotive and industrial hardware, automotive detailing products, fasteners and lighting, he said.
Driegen says he grew up in Houston, worked at the mill for six months and at a gas station for a few years, and then in 1969 took off to Oakville, Ontario where he was parts manager at Kerr Cadillac for 13 years and then owner and operator of a group of auto parts stores called Abbey Autoparts.
“I’ve always been in the automotive business… this has sort of been my lifeline,” said Driegen.
Returning to Houston in 1996, Driegen said he helped open Auto Parts Plus and was store manager there from 1996 to 1998 before working at Sullivan Motor Products as parts manager, where he was until 2006 when he started his own business.
Driegen also met and married Wanita in 2004, he said, adding that she has worked with him starting up the business, and helped with organizing, packaging and shipping.
At first Driegen was selling on a commission base for an Ontario company, and then started ASK, selling out of a truck, he said.
Driegen says that as his business expanded he had to move to a bigger truck and rent storage space from Bandstra for all his products.
Finally, Driegen says he got to the point where he couldn’t do the route fast enough to keep up with the orders, so he started collecting orders and shipping items instead.
Now ASK takes orders and ships throughout B.C., from the Kootenays to Fort St. John to Prince Rupert, everywhere except Vancouver, and also to places in Alberta, such as Edmonton, Lloydminster and Cold Lake, Driegen said.
“We get lots of call in orders from [northern Alberta,] and now we cover 90 per cent of B.C.,” said Wanita.
Driegen says that as a distributer for Car Brite, as well as several other specialized lines, they have rights to all of B.C. except Vancouver, so nobody can sell their products to anybody in B.C. other than Vancouver, except them.
On Dec. 1, Driegen bought a new building for ASK on 10th Street, where they plan to open a retail store as well as continue with their existing business, he said.
The building, an old army barracks brought to Houston from Kitimat in the late 60’s, was the original bowling alley of Houston, and was the Nordan Equipment power saw shop after that.
At first, Driegen says they didn’t plan to open retail, because they were already busy enough, but made the agreement when they bought the building to open retail.
“I think it will do well,” said Driegen, adding that it’s a good time to start up now with the economy picking up.
Wanita added that they have lots of things that local contractors can use, and she thinks the chemicals, such as the water repelling window cleaner, will do well once people find out about it.
“We’re quite excited about it,” Driegen said.