Probably, one of the most fulfilling yet difficult jobs, is self-employment. Not only do you have to worry about getting business, you have to excel at what you do, deal with employees, make sure your accounting is up to date, and anticipate what is about to happen in the economy. Small business owners tend to be extremely busy all the time, and I find it amazing how they, more than most, find time to do a great deal of good for the community.
This month's Story Behind the Person focuses on one such individual, Daren Jones. Daren operates a very successful autobody business, and somehow finds time to be the current president of the Port Perry Rotary Club.
When I met Daren, I was interested to learn what motivates a young entrepreneur, to run a successful business, and also dedicate an excessive amount of his personal time for the betterment of the community?
Born in Peterborough, Daren grew up in Cavan and then moved to Bethany. I naturally assumed he attended a local high school, and was surprised to learn his father drove Daren to Port Perry High, each day.
I asked what the reason was and Daren smiled. “My father operated an auto body shop in Port Perry, and drove me to Port Perry High School every day, because I would be able to work in his business after school.” He paused. “Every day!”
I laughed at his father's enterprising nature. The business Daren operates is M&R Autobody, which is part of the Simplicity Car Care group. Daren’s father started the business in 1977, and Daren has been there for more than twenty years.
“I took Mechanical Engineering and was offered a position with Siemens, but the car business was in my blood. Besides,” he paused, “I enjoyed working with my father.”
Along with working for his father, during his younger years, Daren also worked for Sunoco (now Pioneer at Simcoe and Scugog Street), as well as a transmission shop, all in an effort to gain more experience.
In 2006, Daren married the love of his life, Cheryl, and the couple now have a boy and a girl. In 2015 Daren became a member of the Rotary Club, and I asked him why he joined, as it seemed his life was busy enough.
“That credit goes to Karl Herder, a family friend and probably one of the first people to hold me as a baby.” Karl has been a member of Rotary for many years, acting as president several times.
“Rotary does so much for the community and I wanted to give back, as this area has been so good to me,” Daren explained. He is also a member of the 100 Men Club, as well as several other charitable causes.
Rotary has been amazing for Port Perry. Their Ribfest raised an amazing amount of money, all of which went to the Hospital Auxiliary’s new CT scanner fund. They were also a big supporter of the Port Perry Pedals, an event organized last year, in conjunction with Mark Gibbons, which saw a hundred or so of cyclers, raise over $40,000. That ride by the way, is scheduled to be held on September 11th, this year, but check listings as we near the date.
The Rotary Club has an annual golf tournament and silent auction, as well as a BBQ trailer used at events. Every year they hold a gala (once the pandemic allows it again), and all the money raised goes to community causes.
Rotary started with the vision of one man, Paul Harris, a Chicago attorney who formed the Club in 1905. His reason was to give professionals with diverse backgrounds, an opportunity to exchange ideas and form meaningful, lifelong friendships.
Today Rotary boasts 1.2 million members around the world. Their biggest claim to fame was the almost total eradication of polio, through constant fundraising and dedication. They are a large proponent of student exchange programs, sponsoring young people the opportunity to travel abroad. The Port Perry club sponsors one exchange student every year.
The pandemic has certainly curtailed fund raising efforts for all organizations, but Daren is driving hard to bring it back to where it used to be. He did mention that new members are always welcome.
If you want to chat with Daren about Rotary, drop by his place of business, on highway 12 (just south of Haugens) or send him a note at email@example.com. It is nice to see dedication and involvement in our town, by members of the business community.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. His show, ‘The Jonathan van Bilsen Show,’ on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube, features many of the people included in this column.