Setting up shop in a tailor-made premises, a young foodservice
supply business finds a receptive audience
Photo: Haymach Canada owners Christina and Kevin St Clair
FOR CHRISTINA AND Kevin St Clair, business is all in the family, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Born and raised in London, Christina is a fourth-generation auctioneer. Kevin worked as a supermarket department manager in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia.
A chance meeting in 2007 near Australia’s Great Barrier Reef sparked a long-distance relationship and a decision in 2008 to put down roots in Canada.
The couple founded Haymach Canada, a restaurant supply store, auction house and appraisal service, at the end of 2016. The business is named after their three young children, Hayden, Max and Zach, and its logo features a kangaroo and maple leaf.
“It’s like working in a candy story. Our customers come in
and get so excited walking around looking at the
equipment” — Christina St Clair
Business is already thriving, thanks in part to Haymach’s location in the former home of Papa’s Food Equipment. The 14,000-square-foot building on Dundas Street East was a fixture of London’s restaurant supply business for more than 30 years, until illness forced its owner, Pat Papas, into early retirement.
“We were looking for a location and the stars aligned,” says Christina. “Within two weeks, we were here. We spent all of Christmas painting and getting ready, and opened our doors at the beginning of January.”
With six full-time employees, including Christina and Kevin, Haymach is building on Papas’ legacy with new product lines and expanded services.
Customers can browse the public showroom for a wide selection of new commercial kitchen equipment, ranging from high-end convection ovens to flatware, or bid on an ever-changing inventory of lightly-used products sold through Haymach’s monthly online restaurant auction.
“We work with bailiffs, and take trade-ins and consignments,” Christina explains.
“You can find a lot of fun things at the auction,” she notes. “When a restaurant closes we get all the memorabilia off the walls, the light-up beer signs, the cool beer glasses and even designer light fixtures.”
Many clients make the drive from Toronto to purchase their restaurant equipment at the east London store.
“It comes down to customer service,” Kevin says. As a family-owned business, Haymach takes the time to ensure each customer buys the right equipment for their food venture—whether they are a serious home cook or run a catering company, fine dining restaurant, pizza shop or large commercial kitchen.
“We deliver. We uncrate. We can take their old equipment away. And we help if there are any warranty issues,” says Kevin. Haymach can even help customers arrange flexible financing options to get their new food business off the ground.
In addition to selling new and used restaurant equipment, Haymach offers appraisal, inventory clear out and auction services thanks to Christina’s experience as an accredited personal property appraiser and auctioneer.
“Being an appraiser goes hand-in-hand with the auctions,” Christina explains.
Haymach’s estate and inventory clear out auctions are held online. More than 80 per cent of buyers live outside of London, Christina says. “People find us through our Facebook advertising, Google advertising and various auction calendars.”
Eventually, Christina and Kevin hope to purchase their London location and expand Haymach Canada to other cities across Ontario.
With three young children, it makes for a very busy life, but Christina says, “For us, it’s been fun. It’s like working in a candy story. Our customers come in and get so excited walking around looking at the equipment.” Nicole Laidler