by Stella Shepard
Billy Clements grew up in an entrepreneurial family and is the fourth generation to be self-employed in the upholstery trade.
In 2019, the 25-year-old launched East Coast Upholstery in Belfast. The business has been prosperous and continues to grow since opening.
East Coast Upholstery provides upholstery services to all industries, specializing in automotive and marine, while also offering services to motorcycles, ATV/RV, commercial, industrial, and hospitality, and furniture. Services also include reupholstering, restorations, custom fabrication, repairs, foam work, and retail sales of related products and accessories.
Billy was introduced to upholstery at a young age by his family at Clements Upholstery, where he spent summers in his junior high school years to start learning the trade.
“Out of high school, I gained experience working full-time alongside my father Earl at Creative Auto, learning automotive and marine upholstery for two years before opening my own shop, East Coast Upholstery.
“In 2019, my family at Clements Upholstery closed their shop. I bought all their tools and equipment and went on to brand myself as East Coast Upholstery and opened PEI’s newest upholstery shop.”
Starting a business
“I had the work experience and family support to open my own shop, but was in need of resources to make it all happen. My mother has been an entrepreneur her entire work-life and it’s where my entrepreneurial inspiration comes from. She suggested I contact Community Business Development Corporation PEI (CBDC) East.”
CBDC, located at the Rural Action Centre on Main Street in Montague, assists in the creation of small businesses and in expanding and modernizing existing businesses by providing financial and technical services to entrepreneurs. Services target entrepreneurs who require customized financing not ordinarily available from traditional sources.
CBDC East is staffed by Martina MacDonald, Director, Helen Antle, CBDC Officer, and Terri Taylor, Accounts Officer. Billy met with Martina and Helen and discussed a business plan he had worked on for about four months.
“CBDC East staff were impressed with my business plan and enthusiasm for starting a business,” says Billy. “As well, I enrolled in four business-related courses offered through CBDC East.
“I enrolled in the courses to show CBDC East I was excited and up to the challenge of starting my own business. Two years later, the business is going strong to the point of expanding the shop to meet the demand for orders.
“I’ve had to turn down work but have kept the contacts. I plan to book in the jobs I have missed because of the lack of workspace once the expansion is completed.”
“I plan to hire and train people in the upholstery trade once the expansion is completed,” says Billy. “I will consider training high school students in the Co-operative Education Program to become skilled tradespeople in the upholstery trade.”
Billy was eligible for the SkillsPEI Self Employ PEI program, which helps job seekers who want to launch their own business.
This program provides financial support and business counselling to new entrepreneurs during their first year of operation. Information sessions are available for those interested in finding out more about the program.
For more information about Community Business Development Corporation PEI East (CBDC), call 902-838-4030. Visit www.cbdc.ca
For more information about SkillsPEI, click here