The following 'success story' was submitted to OrilliaMatters by the Orillia Area Community Development Corporation.
Everyone has their struggles, yet Bonnie Smith and her team at Home Comfort Care have put their own struggles aside to serve and care for the Muskoka community.
With three Home Comfort Care shops in Bracebridge, Gravenhurst and Huntsville, Smith and her team provide rehabilitation and health-care equipment from sports braces to hospital beds.
Having worked for 10 years in home health care for a pharmacy franchise, Bonnie found that the personal touch was missing. To her, it felt more like factory work than the one-on-one personal, customer-oriented service work it should be.
It didn’t feel right, and that served as the inspiration to step out on her own.
After doing so, and working from home for 10 years, the proverbial rug was swept out from under her by the dissolution of a business partnership.
Not to be deterred in her desire to run a business dedicated to helping others, Smith started again from scratch.
Knowing there was a medical supplies business in Gravenhurst that had closed about a year previously, she saw an opportunity and acted on it.
She approached the local Community Futures office, the Orillia Area Community Development Corp. (CDC), with her business and marketing plan and was awarded $40,000.
The money was split: $25,000 to open the store, and $15,000 for a van. Smith paid back that van loan in one year.
Her business grew very quickly so to keep up with demand, she opted to open a satellite store in Huntsville with financial assistance coming again from the Orillia Area CDC.
Just over two years ago, as Smith was preparing to expand for a third outlet to be located in Bracebridge, her dear son William passed away. Expansion plans went on hold for a short while, Smith put aside her struggles and carried on.
When she was ready, the Orillia Area CDC was there to help her out again. Equipped with $31,000, the new Bracebridge location of Home Comfort Care opened on Dec. 1, 2018.
Without the financial help from the Orillia Area CDC, Smith wouldn’t have been able to reach her dream of helping people live their lives as comfortably as possible.
In reaching that dream, Smith has learned a lot about running a business,.
“You have to be conscientious of your spending, you don’t have to have a lot of people, but you have to have the right people," said Smith.
"Our team has the same personal touch, one-on-one mindset to treat people as they would want their own family members to be treated.”
When asked about what advice she might have for others thinking about opening their own business, Smith says: “Follow your heart. You need to believe in what you want to do.”
And, drawing from what led her to her chosen profession, "treat people like they’re people. This is real life, we don’t know their story, we’re here to listen and to help.”