During International Women’s Month, we are celebrating women that are making a difference in our local business and community landscapes. Meet Charmaine Reiber from Garage Living.
Garage Living provides customized garage spaces through exclusive themes as well as personalized designs. The team takes care of clients and projects from start to finish with consulting, design and installation. Products offered include everything needed for a professional garage remodel: flooring, cabinets, wall storage and speciality storage racks.
Charmaine and Mike Reiber were the first franchisees of Garage Living. The Reibers opened their franchise location in Calgary in 2016.
“We always wanted our own business and paired with our backgrounds, this seemed to be a perfect fit,” says Reiber. “I was in business management and Mike was a carpenter and engineer. We both had past careers in oil and gas. We decided to take the plunge into something new and exciting.”
Starting a new business took time, but their persistence paid off.
Reiber admits, “The first five years were a tremendous challenge in just getting our name and brand out there. It was during the fifth year when our business really took off. Word of mouth has been huge, paired with great service and the best products you can buy. Almost all of our products are made in Canada.”
Due to the nature of their business, COVID and the current labour shortage, some days have been challenging.
“Finding good, hardworking people that show up and take pride in their work is a big challenge,” Reiber says. “Also, the economy has been relentless with theft and vandalism.”
Rising to, and overcoming, the challenges saw the Reibers move operations to a larger and more secure warehouse. They continue to seek out staff that employs the same vision, ethics and high work standards for which the Garage Living name is known.
Challenges aside, Reiber loves what she does.
“Seeing the end results is always amazing,” she smiles. “Clients love what we do. It is the best feeling ever once a project is done, knowing that your customer is completely satisfied. People often wish they revamped their garage sooner. Most people don’t realize what they are missing until they do it! Once they do, if they ever move, we 100% get a return customer.”
The Reibers are very busy as the business grows, but they always make time to help the community thrive. They particularly enjoy supporting local sports teams.
As a woman in business, Reiber has advice for other women pursuing entrepreneurship.
“Hard work and commitment pay off. You absolutely get what you give. I am a very honest and positive person. Always remember that people want to be surrounded by these types of people. Stay true to yourself and know that it is normal to fail the first time you may try something. Those are the experiences that make you better and stronger.”
She continues, “Don’t be afraid to fake it until you make it! I was so scared when we bought the business; scared to even call people to set up appointments! Just know the more you do something, the easier it becomes and that, my friends, is what builds confidence.”
Although Garage Living has won several awards over the years, Reiber counts the positive customer feedback as the best possible reward the company could receive. They also enjoy giving back to the community and sponsoring charitable events. One example is the donation they made of a garage makeover to the Foothills County Hospice Gala event.
What comes next? A possible expansion and a definite continuation of expertly made-over garages and outstanding customer service.