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Business built on dispelling myths; at 17, Brad Miron capitalized on giving Sudbury an identifiable image.

Business built on dispelling myths

This year's recipient of the Northern Ontario Business Award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year developed the idea for his venture, Rocks Athletic Wear, while still in secondary school.

While just 17 years old, Brad Miron found his niche in the Northern business community when he realized that Sudbury did not have an identifiable image or logo which tourists would recognize as a symbol of the city.


"There is an ignorance in southern Ontario of how beautiful Northern Ontario is," says Miron, now 21. "I wanted to do something for Sudbury to show that there are beautiful areas here, not just rocks, and I wanted to kill the myth that exists which says that young people can't or shouldn't run a business."

Ironically, Miron sought to capitalize on the negative image of rocks which is associated with Sudbury.

Miron began his business while attending high school in 1986 with the money he had accumulated from a summer job. With $1,600 Miron produced the first 25 t-shirts which led to an extensive line of clothing.


The t-shirts, which were decorated with Miron's own design of a rock pile, sold quick enough to prompt friends and family to encourage Miron to have a second run of shirts produced.

The fledgling entrepreneur earned $250 in his first month of business by selling the shirts from a hand cart outside a Sudbury shopping centre.

"I could have opened a store right away, but I had to make sure there was a market before taking responsibility for any overhead," Miron recalls.

By taking advantage of the Christmas season, Miron increased his sales to $57,000 during December of 1986. It was at this time that Miron decided to withdraw from school and devote all his attention to his business.


In 1989, after purchasing and renovating an older home in Sudbury for his business and residence, Miron realized sales in excess of $250,000. He estimates that sales will reach $300,000 by the end of 1990.

Along with his five part-and full-time employees, the young entrepreneur produces 25 per cent of the Rocks Athletic Wear line. Because of increased market demand, the remainder is contracted out to other local printing shops.

Miron attributes the popularity of Rocks to the "strong will" he possesses to see the business succeed.

"I have a great sense of confidence, when I look at further goals," he says. "I still maintain that confidence."

In addition to Rocks Athletic Wear, Miron, under the name Great Canadian Outfitters Incorporated, has embarked on several additional business endeavours.

Similar athletic wear can be seen in Sault Ste. Marie. Clothing bearing a logo representing the Sault Ste. Marie locks is currently being produced by Locks Athletic Wear - a franchise sold to a Sault couple by Miron in 1988.

Miron collects a franchise fee as well as a five-per-cent royalty on sales.


He is currently negotiating similar franchise deals in North Bay and Timmins. Clothing produced in those locations would have logos unique to the cities.

Miron is hopeful that patrons in Timmins and North Bay will see the items available as early as next spring.

Late last year Miron opened a small gift boutique. Miron's wife Diane operates the store which is called Lady Di's Crafts and Gift Boutique.

Although miron admits that it is difficult to plan ahead because of the uncertainty created by the current economic climate and the proposed goods and services tax, he still plans to open franchises in Elliot Lake and Toronto. Miron is also considering purchasing his own embroidery equipment and locating it in his newly renovated garage.

Miron believes he has sufficient space to produce all his own clothing and establish a showroom to service customized orders.


Despite the difficulties he encountered because of his age, miron attributes a great deal of the success of Rocks Athletic Wear to his youth.

He said that people often enter the store simply to make personal contact with the originator of the product.

"A lot of good ideas just slip away because younger people either believe they can't do it or they have been told they can't," he says.

In keeping with Miron's dedication to Sudbury, the company also plays an active role in the community.

Miron is an advisory committee member for the local small business owners development program and he has joined the Canadian Fitness Council's organizing committee for its 1991 Canadian conference to be held in Sudbury.

Rocks sponsors a local soccer team and donates $5,000 worth of athletic wear annually to charitable organizations to be used as prizes and for fund-raising raffles.

Miron was the recipient of the Federal Business Development Bank's 1989 Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

His award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year is sponsored by Peat Marwick Thorne.
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Title Annotation:Northern Ontario Business Awards Thunder Bay 1990; Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:company profile
Date:Dec 1, 1990
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