Business grad heads one of Canada's fastest growing companies
While he was completing his business management studies at NAIT, David Drever would spend his weekends buying and selling vehicles online. After he graduated in 2007, it was pretty clear what he wanted to do. But in a crowded vehicle sales market, how would he carve out a unique place within it — and create a thriving business in rural Alberta? And, moreover, how to get it off the ground during a grinding recession?
Drever, however, saw opportunities. Back then, it wasn’t uncommon for car dealerships to abandon their leases. So with his business partner David Nigh, he created D & D Vehicle Sales. The company consisted of two guys and an inventory of about 20 vehicles, which were housed in a building in Camrose shared with the local RV dealership.
Drever recalls those days: none of the major banks would touch them. By 2009, sales were still well under a million. But every year after that, sales doubled, and in 2014 Canadian Business Magazine named D & D, now one of the province's largest online auto wholesalers, the 44th fastest growing company in the country.
From an early age, Drever worked in his father's PetroCanada bulk fuel sales business. But he knew that pursuing a career in vehicle sales would require an education. After investigating several options, he concluded that NAIT offered a solid business education, one he could use to launch his career. "I felt good coming out [of NAIT]," he says, pointing out that accounting, organizational business behavior and understanding financial statements were important fundamentals he carried with him. Today, for example, he proud of keeping "bullet proof financials" — it's a must-have in his business.
Business acumen runs deep in his family.
Down the road, Drever's brother, Ross, has establish Drever Technical Solutions, a company designing, developing and maintaining custom software, specializing in building data-centric business applications. "Our solutions have helped our clients improve their businesses by simplifying processes, increasing efficiencies and providing insight into their data," says Ross, who graduated from NAIT's Computer Systems Technology Co-op program in 2005.
The company has recently developed Shepherd, a cloud-based inventory, rental, sales and lease-management software for equipment rental companies and dealerships. D & D, among other users, has adopted it. East of town, younger brother, Lee, has continued to work the family business, a cattle and agricultural farm. West of town his sister, Lyndell, and her husband, Ryan, have a conventional grain farm that is expanding into the fast growing organics market. David's wife, Lindsay, recently started an online clothing boutique while raising their two children, Jackson and Adilee.
D & D is a busy place, now with 25 employees, all involved in retail sales of cars and trucks, rentals and leasing. They move about 150 vehicles a month — nearly double, sometimes triple, the number of vehicles a typical dealership would move. And the banks are now backing it, Drever points out. Alberta Treasury Branch supports D & D's leasing portfolio and operations, and other major banks have all come on board for customer financing.
"We have a team that searches North America to find the best inventory possible and is consistently bringing us new stock every day," explains Drever. "In addition to selling trucks, cars and SUVs, we also supply a very large inventory of cargo, dump, and flat deck trailers," he says, pointing out that over time the company has built up a vast purchasing network in the US and Canada.
Last July, the company exceeded $40 million in sales. What was once a two-man operation is now one of Camrose's premier businesses.