David Slemin lay on the ground drunk in downtown Victoria, staring up at the moon when he realized he’d hit rock bottom.
“I had nowhere to go,” said the 42-year-old Sooke man, noting he had been sleeping on a concrete floor at the time. “I remember looking at the sky while the snow was falling and two words left my mouth: ‘Father, help.’”
That moment was at the age of 25 in 2003.
The day after, Slemin received a call from a church minister that would soon become his mentor. Slemin said his spiritual faith would end up playing a significant role in helping him get back on his feet.
He soon founded a construction company called Trusted Trades Inc. Almost 20 years later, he’s married, is no longer in debt, no longer drinks recklessly and has launched a new company.
His latest venture, Man Up Demolition – co-founded with Paul Packer and Murray Klassen – employs those who have had a rough past like himself and are looking for a fresh start.
“Change is always possible,” Slemin said. “What is it worth if I’m rejecting to hire the guys that need some extra help when they can’t get a job?”
The Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce believes that though there are rare opportunities to flourish, the pandemic has brought turbulent times, with more uncertainty expected later this year.
“More businesses in Sooke are struggling compared to last year, and some are shifting their working models,” said chamber president Karen Mason.
“The income supplements provided by the federal government has helped with public spending, but with that coming to an end soon, we are bracing for a bigger impact on businesses in the future.”
Mason said the key to success during the pandemic is delivering on your product, getting the word out and understanding your customer.
“People have been more cautious about how they spend their money,” said Kamara Llewellyn, who recently started a weeding and garden company in Sooke.
“It hasn’t been going as quickly as I anticipated, but I’m working to provide a better life for my family and me.”
The 26-year-old has been tirelessly working alongside her only employee to work on pruning, lawn cleanup and weeding just five months after having a baby girl.
With previous experience in landscaping, Llewellyn said launching her own company was the best way to help make ends meet to help her family “go from surviving to thriving.”
Similarly, Slemin believes that demolition is a good start for those who are trying to get back on their feet, where they don’t have to look clean-cut and are still able to get the job done.
Man Up Demolition’s disposal yard, located at 2049 Idlemore Rd. in Sooke, accepts metal, drywall and renovation debris. All appliances and metal are being taken in for free.
“Everyone wants to feel unconditionally loved no matter where they’re at in life,” Slemin said. “I’m not quitting on these guys.”
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