Starting a business

Shift Accessibility Contractors: The inspiring journey of accessible home pioneers

Behind every small business is a 'big why' – the reason they started their company in the first place and what motivates them to keep going, even when times get tough. Intuit QuickBooks is proud to support Canadian small businesses through every step of their journey and is pleased to celebrate companies doing remarkable things in this “Small Business, Big Why" series.

Changing lives is the foundation of Josh Peill and Griffin Simony's business. Shift Accessibility Contractors was born from their desire to help people with disabilities experience how an accessible home can also be a beautiful home.

Peill and Simony's passion was inspired by their families. Throughout Peill's childhood, his mother volunteered and helped people with disabilities. Years later, when Peill was a superintendent with one of the largest contractors in Canada, he couldn't shake the desire to also devote his life to creating meaningful change.

Meanwhile, Simony's inspiration struck when he helped his grandparents move to an assisted living facility. He was dismayed to see that even at their new home, they still faced numerous accessibility challenges.

The two men combined their extensive experience and launched Shift Accessibility Contractors. Today, it's grown into a million-dollar contracting enterprise that still emphasizes giving back to the community.

Two people in a construction site smiling

Creating accessible renovations that are beautiful and inviting

"People think an accessible home will look like a hospital," Peill says. "But if done right, it can feel grand."

However, getting people to catch onto their vision took some time and ingenuity.

Launching a contracting business in an already saturated market wasn't easy. Peill and Simony quickly learned that focusing on their niche and thinking outside the box were the keys to success.

To get referrals, they met with occupational therapists, doctor's office staff members, physiotherapists, and others in the accessibility space. Soon, their work began to speak for itself.

"Giving that extra attention to detail and that extra level of effort made our clients really proud to talk about us and recommend us," Simony says.

They made a mark by putting the same level of passion and care into every project, big or small. Whether they were adding a grab bar to a shower or installing an elevator shaft, it was all meaningful.

And with each carefully designed project, their reputation grew.

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Knowing when to take risks

When they started, Peill and Simony didn't have a lot of capital for investing, so they needed to be frugal. As they grew, they had to learn when it was OK to take bigger risks for bigger rewards.

QuickBooks played a significant role in helping them stay on task and know when to take the next big step.

"QuickBooks allowed us to have an eye on where our money is actually sitting, knowing when can we afford to pay for a nicety that's gonna push things forward, and when we should remain a little more frugal," Simony says.

Thanks to QuickBooks, they were ready to take risks when the timing was right.

A few years ago, their biggest projects were worth six figures — but then they had the opportunity to bid on a project that was worth almost $1 million.

"It was a big risk putting that bid together," Simony recalls. But they landed the project, and it was a hit.

"Everything came together beautifully," Simony says. "That gave our team more confidence going into future projects, and gained us even more success."

Big risks can be a defining moment for a business, but you have to know when to jump on them.

"You need to be comfortable taking risks, but they need to be calculated risks," Simony advises. "QuickBooks helps us really dive into the numbers and look at what our risk factor is for a project, and how it will turn out if things don't go as planned."

Shift Accessibility owner working on a laptop in a house under construction

Evolving in inspiring ways

Peill and Simony started by focusing on smaller projects like bathroom renovations and building ramps. And while they still do those projects with pride, they also work on more sizeable projects like elevator retrofitting, increasing a home's footprint to expand a bathroom, and moving primary living spaces to the main floor.

"We're doing pretty major renovations to fully remodel a space so it's functional for that individual," Simony explains. "We're not only providing people with disabilities homes that grant them more independence and function, but also homes they love being in."

Simony says their dream is to one day develop fully accessible homes from the ground up.

"There are no homes out there where people with disabilities can just move in and live in," Simony says. "Our ultimate goal is to develop an industry where there's value in providing these changes at the construction stage."

Staying focused on their mission to change lives

No matter where their business takes them, Peill and Simony remain focused on their mission of changing lives. Every year, they volunteer with Accessibility Renovations for Kids to renovate two to four homes for families of children with disabilities, at no cost to the homeowners.

And they define their growth in a unique way.

"How do we measure our success? I think in the simplest terms, in the amount of lives changed," Simony says. "The biggest impact we're looking to make is changing people's lives."

Today, Shift Accessibility Contractors is continuing to evolve, as Simony and Peill have big dreams for the future. With QuickBooks Online, they've been able to deftly navigate the financial issues that many small businesses face, and build a thriving enterprise that changes lives every day.

Simony and Peill use QuickBooks Online to stay on top of accounts receivable and payable, as well as profit and loss for each project and for the year. This allows them to not only manage their cash flow and pay their sub-trades on time, it's also an easy way to see where they're making and losing money, how expenses are balancing out on each project and what they're spending on overhead.

Keeping track of your finances when you're running a small business doesn't have to be daunting. QuickBooks can help you manage your business accounts and track where your money is going, so you don't miss big opportunities as your business evolves.

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