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Metro Centre Relocates to Niverville

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Metro Centre Crop
Maggie and Don Pearson of Metro Centre Ltd. in their new Niverville digs. Sara Beth Dacombe

When Don and Maggie Pearson decided to move their business, Metro Centre Ltd, to Niverville in May 2020, the couple never could have guessed the transition would coincide with a global pandemic. At a time when businesses around the world are facing uncertainty and upheaval, their small family-run business has been bracing for the impact. Now, having moved their entire operation, they’re starting to feel settled in their new community.

Originally from the Transcona and St. Boniface areas of Winnipeg respectively, Maggie and Don moved south of the city to St. Pierre in 1991. They worked together for Don’s dad at Metro Eavestroughing Ltd, later taking over the business and changing the name to Metro Centre Ltd. Their focus switched from gutters and downspouts to trailers, aluminum docks, boat lifts, and after-market truck and RV parts.

In total, they’ve been married 38 years and worked together for 27 of those.

The business had been based on Nairn Avenue in Winnipeg, but after so many years, the building needed expensive repairs and the Pearsons needed a break from the city’s high taxes.

“The taxes are just so much lower here out of the city. You can’t compare,” says Maggie. “And you can’t beat the drive. We’re saving hours and hours of driving per week. I can be home in just 15 or 20 minutes every night, and that’s a huge benefit.”

They also wanted to downsize the operation to streamline what they offer. So while they will still offer to source and sell trailers to specific customers, they will not stock new trailers onsite.

One unique aspect of the business is its unique connection to the popular vintage-style Boler camper trailers. A few years ago, Don and Maggie were approached by a customer with a broken-down Boler who was passing through Winnipeg from B.C. The tongue had completely detached from the frame. Don managed to recreate the frame that supports the entire shell of the camper, and now Metro manufactures replacement Boler frames for customers all across Canada.

Coming to Niverville

The Pearsons became convinced Niverville was their new business home after they connected with local real estate agent Clarence Braun. They then realized they also had a previous personal connection with Dan Harder, owner of In-Ex Panel Systems Ltd. as well as the building now leased by Metro. As the leaseholder, In-Ex helped with renovations that have transformed the warehouse space into a well-lit shop with two large service bays, a welcoming reception and product area, and a large storage space upstairs.

“We knew this was a good investment and a turnkey business opportunity if [In-Ex] wants to someday turn the business over to someone else,” said Don. “This building lends itself, the way it’s set up, that any other business could come in here if we’re done.”

Back to Business

Confident in their investment, the Pearsons are anxious to get back to helping customers again without delay.

Other than the renovations, which took a little longer to complete due to social distancing, the biggest challenge occurred before the move even officially began. While looking for a buyer for their Winnipeg space, the couple was approached with an offer that had them scrambling to be out by March 31.

Not wanting to lose the offer, the couple agreed to the deal and had to find space for their machinery, stock, and supplies before their space in Niverville was ready to move into. With help from fellow local business Bristal Hauling, who helped with the move when it was down to the wire on the evening of March 31, Maggie and Don were able to meet the deadline.

Another consequence of being “homeless” leading up to their possession date was that Maggie was able to project the effects of the business being shut down for a while, prior to the shutdowns that became mandatory by COVID-19. This gave Metro a bit of an edge, even if just in the mindset of preparedness, to weather the stressful business climate that hit our province this spring.

Family Focus

Family-owned and operated since 1969, their team really feels like a family, and that’s how they run things. Don handles the mechanics of their operation, as well as estimating on jobs and selling trailers, parts, and products. Maggie handles the in-office responsibilities, accounting, and advertising. Their son works in sales, maintenance, and yard management. Maggie’s brother works for them part-time as a mechanic and the office also employs a full-time administrative assistant.

“The other thing we wanted from moving the business away from Winnipeg is that we wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle,” says Maggie. “We knew that we would take a hit in taxes just by selling the place, but we knew we wanted a change—and now we have a new grandson. He’s eight months old. They live at home with us and I am enjoying every single additional moment. We love helping with him.”

The couple looks forward to getting involved in the community. They project that they’ll be open for business on June 5.

“It will be a soft opening on June 5, but after July long weekend, we will be planning for a grand opening,” Maggie adds. “So stay tuned.”

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