What is your story? What do you do and how did you get to where you are today in your career?
I am the owner and “one woman show” that is On The Rocks Ice. We are a locally owned and operated Ice Distribution company here in Vancouver BC. We provide services throughout the Lower Mainland and as far as the Okanogan and Vancouver Island. I’m also a co-owner of Simply Pure Hillside - where we sell and distribute RO and Alkaline Water to Victorians! I purchased On The Rocks about 4 years ago after its initial owners decided to step away. I was moving on from a job and found myself without the next thing to go to, and this opportunity basically fell into my lap. I spent several weeks diving into and analyzing financials, trying to source funding, and wrapping my head around owning an ice company before finally pulling the trigger and purchasing the company. 4 years have passed, and I haven’t looked back. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future!
One resource you can share that has been beneficial to your job?
Networking! NETWORKING! And putting yourself out there. When I first bought the business, I was so focused on learning and understanding the ins and outs and just trying to survive that everything else fell to the wayside. After 4 years, I am figuring out how important it is to put yourself out there - ask for things! I have had a lot of great opportunities lately to showcase myself and my business simply because I’ve asked. I don’t think I ever would have had the guts to do that 4 years ago, but what I’ve learned is that the worst that can happen is someone says no!
If you weren’t doing what you are now, what would it be and what is holding you back from doing it?
I grew up horseback riding and was pretty good at it at one point in my life. I like to think it’s like riding a bike and that you never forget, but what I’ve noticed in my later years is that when I do get back on, my confidence just isn’t the same. I miss my teenage and early adult years where I would ride any horse and be confident in my abilities. If I could do anything, it would be to professionally ride - show jumping to be precise. What’s holding me back? Money. Horseback riding is crazy expensive and buying the horse isn’t even the most expensive part of it! If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would keep the ice company, but buy a horse and start taking lessons again seriously would be the dream!
Name one thing you will make happen this year?
I was really lucky last year in that the company was very successful. We had our best and busiest year and if this year so far is any indication, I think the same thing will happen again. My goal for this year is to continue building our sales, take on more new clients and to try and expand the business in some way. I’m not entirely sure what that looks like yet, but stay tuned to find out!
Give women a valuable piece of advice on how to overcome challenges in the workplace.
Gosh, this one holds so many facets for me. One of the things I struggle with in this industry is that it’s very male dominated. Often if someone is calling or emailing and has never spoken with me before, (and because my name can be androgynous) they are confused when I answer and say, “yes I’m Devon”. I can’t count the number of times that someone on the other end says, “Oh my gosh, I thought you were a man”. Because the job is very physical, I have a lot of people commenting on “wow you do this all day long” and “where are the men to lift this for you”. People are usually very taken aback when I tell them I’m the owner of the company and that “the men work for me”. I find that these are some of the biggest challenges for me, because either I get frustrated with their reactions or I feel like I’m constantly trying to out shine my male competitors. I think the biggest piece of advice I can give would be to just do you! I don’t try to be someone I’m not. I don’t always life the ice and do the orders myself because I’m not always as strong as my male counterparts and my time and function is often best served elsewhere, where I really do shine. I try to focus on myself and my business and how to make it succeed and spend less time worrying about what my competitors are doing.
Name 3 things someone has told you that you’re good at, or they admire about you.
That I am organized, creative and strong.
Strategies for avoiding burnouts?
I am sitting here writing this to you from my husband's family cottage on Salt Spring Island. Despite it being a busy weekend with several events and lots of retail ice being delivered, I felt like I needed to get away. Work life and home life has been nuts the last few weeks and I could just feel myself getting overwhelmed, tired, stressed, not sleeping, worrying. I’m useless to my family and to my company when I’m like that, and to be honest, useless to myself. I’m very lucky that I have a place I can escape to and also lucky that this job allows me some flexibility to work remotely. But my goal is to try and stay as balanced a human as possible, sometimes for me that means taking time away from everyone else to focus on myself. The older I get, the better I get at understanding when that is and taking the steps needed to conquer it.
What is one accomplishment you are proud of?
I am proud of this company! Starting a business is never easy and the same goes for buying a business, learning it and taking it over and making it into your own. Keeping it going, making sure it succeeds and then trying to expand it can be daunting in many ways. I’m so proud that 4 years in, this business is still here, still competing with the big guys, still winning clients, and that I have made countless, amazing relationships in the process!
When does time pass fastest and slowest?
I am the kind of person that likes to be insanely busy. All the dang time. I think people think I am crazy most of the time because I am constantly tidying, or working, rarely sitting still. But that is just part of who I am, so for me, I am happiest when I am full out busy. When the day is insane and I have back to back meetings, tons of paperwork to finish, lots of logistics to work out and deliveries to organize. That is my best day. Slide in family commitments, working out, taking care of the dog to that and I am golden. I function best in a state of constant motion. The slowest days are when there isn’t much going on - I struggle to fill my time.
What is something you have never been able to do well?
Math. I freaking hate it. I never liked math in school, I did horribly in Finance and Accounting in College and it is still something I struggle with in my business. I have finally ( 4 years later) started to grasp what needs to be done and when in order to keep things functioning properly and to maintain an understanding of what’s going on, but it will certainly never be something that I enjoy doing, or that comes easily to me. But I’ve gotten to the point that I can acknowledge these areas that I need help with so that I can focus on the areas that I am good at!
What sentence can you say now that makes total sense but that in high school would be crazy?
I own and operate an Ice Company!
What do you think people automatically assume when they first look at you?
That I have a “normal”, 9-5, office job.
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