Michelle Ouellette is a busy mother of two active boys so she knows how precious time can be for busy families.
“My kids have always been busy in after school programs,” she said. “Our son Mitchell was diagnosed with autism early before JK and they said the best thing for him was to put him in preschool and we got him involved in absolutely everything to help socialize him. I was busy running around kids and that meant I was running into parents who were wishing they could find some nice retired person to drive their kids around.”
Ouellette recognized the business opportunity and started Precious CarGo, a scheduled ride share service for children.
“It began with getting kids out of the after school program and hopefully taking them to a sport that they love and enjoy,” she said. “I wanted to participate with helping busy parents get their kids to the after-school activities.”
Ouellette was born in Windsor in 1972 and moved to Guelph in 1980. She finished high school at Centennial CVI and graduated from the marketing program at Georgian College in 1994.
She started working as a server for East Side Mario’s in Cambridge and Guelph 1997 and even worked at their restaurant in Edmonton when she was there.
She got her first experience transporting precious cargo as a flight attendant for a chartered airline.
“When I first started flying with Starjet I had two options — fly with the prime minister or fly with the Ottawa Senators,” said Ouellette. “So, my first gig was with the prime minister, Paul Martin. I was also put with Michael Ignatief. It was fun.”
She worked as a flight attendant for 11 years.
“I was six months with one company then six months with another then 10 years with Flair Airlines,” she said. “I would be away from home approximately 20 days a month.”
Ouellette and partner Rob Veltman have two sons together Mitchell, 8, and Tyson, 6, so in 2015 she started looking for work that would allow her to spend more time at home.
She set her sights on a position with the University of Guelph Police.
“I had my resume in at the university and as soon as they called and said they had a part-time dispatch position open I had to jump,” she said. “It is only eight minutes away and I thought I was on my way to a full-time position there but the doors just didn’t open.”
The concept for Precious CarGo started to take form in the summer of 2019
“Technically, I started with a business advisor in July,” she said. “I got my insurance in September but in order to get my vehicle-for-hire license from the City of Guelph I needed my website to book online, pay online and cancel online. So, my official launch was in November.”
She developed a logo that reflects the types of activities she helps her young passengers take part in.
“My logo is the coat of arms, which is important to me and that I want kids to be able to do the activities they love and enjoy,” she said. “That’s why it has images of soccer, judo, dance and swimming.”
The coat of arms is emblazoned across the hood of a Volkswagen van she wants to buy.
“The van is the future because in 2023 the Volkswagen ID Buzz is coming back out,” she said. “It is going to be an electric vehicle and I thought that would be fun to have as my fleet.”
She is exploring the idea of offering rideshare services to seniors as well but wants to see how things go with the kids first.
“The business plan hasn’t been proven yet but in my mind I would like to see it grow across Canada,” she said. “I believe everyone in every market could use Precious CarGo. I believe there are good drivers out there to support busy parents. There are busy parents everywhere.”
More information can be found at www.preciouscargo.ca.