Cory Hughes is as surprised as anybody – probably more so – to find himself the owner of a busy company with three employees only eight months after starting it.
His company is SL Deliveries, launched last year on Aug. 19 as something to do when he wasn’t delivering pizzas for Alimo’s Pizzeria in Slave Lake.
“It took about three weeks for people to catch on,” he says.
After that, it was a matter of keeping up. It turned out people wanted somebody to bring things to them. Lots of people. Within a couple of months he had to buy a bigger vehicle and think about hiring. And it’s kept on growing.
At the start, it was just fast food he was delivering. Nowadays, he’s still doing that, but pretty much anything he can fit in his truck or trailer as well.
“On Friday I’m going to Calgary to pick something up for somebody,” he says, by way of example.
Three weeks ago, Hughes announced he was getting into house moving (the contents, not the houses themselves).
“On the first day I had 10 calls!” he says.
It’s interesting that all of this developed without any sort of master plan. Getting into business for himself was the furthest thing from his mind. He’d been a junior pastor at a local church, having moved to Slave Lake a few years ago for that purpose. When that ended, he was looking to do something “as a stepping stone,” to pay the bills and delivering for Alimo’s was it.
Along the way he became good friends, he says, with owners Ali and Mo Mouallem. When COVID hit, in March of 2020, he got the idea of simply helping people by delivering groceries – as a public service.
“I’ve always wanted to help people,” he says.
The response was big, but even then, he wasn’t thinking about making a business out of it. The Mouallems, recognizing the opportunity, encouraged him to give it a try. What they actually told him was, “You’d be an idiot if you don’t do this.”
So he did.
As for figuring out what to charge, Hughes says he did his research. Other, similar companies publish their rates. There’s quite a range, he says, and he went with numbers “in the middle,” and made adjustments as he went.
“Nobody’s ever complained,” he says.
With the recent increase in restrictions on dining in restaurants, Hughes figures he’ll be even busier. But his business has expanded far beyond food.
“If I can load it in my truck, or tow it, I’ll deliver it,” he says.