Ottawa's Fastest Growing Companies: CanadaWheels revved up about e-commerce growth

Saleh
CanadaWheels founder Saleh Taebi. Photo by Mark Holleron

Each year, OBJ recognizes the region’s rapidly growing firms with its Fastest Growing Companies awards. The aim is to honour the city’s top performers for substantial, sustainable and profitable growth. Recipients are ranked by their three-year revenue growth. They must have had revenues of at least $100,000 in the first of those three years under consideration. Revenues must have risen to at least $500,000 in their most recent fiscal year. The companies will be profiled online in the coming days and recognized at a cocktail reception on May 23 at Kanata co-working space Head Office Ottawa. Click here for info.

Saleh Taebi isn’t about to take his foot off the gas pedal in his quest to dominate the auto accessories online retail market.

Taebi is the founder and CEO of CanadaWheels, an Ottawa-based e-commerce site that specializes in automobile rims and tires. Since it launched seven years ago, Taebi’s business has gained a loyal following from customers frustrated with the limited selection of products at traditional brick-and-mortar auto shops and the logistical headaches of going store to store to comparison shop.

Big-time growth is nothing new to CanadaWheels, which also made OBJ’s list of fastest-growing companies three years ago. But Taebi says that trend has accelerated since the organization revamped its website in February to make it easier and faster to navigate.

“The whole user experience is better,” he explains. “Sales have been going like crazy.”

The site now offers nearly 200 different brands of rims and tires for dozens of makes and models of vehicles, with a visualizer that shows users what different rims will actually look like on their cars. The company minimizes shipping times and costs by using customers’ locations to match them to nearby warehouses.

CanadaWheels

Year founded: 2012

Local headcount: Nine, with four more in other locations

Three-year revenue growth: 175.16%

2019 ranking: #8

CanadaWheels also partners with auto shops that install the products it sells, providing links to stores in several cities. Taebi says he expects to have about 40 partners on board from across the country within the next few months.

“Shops love us because we’re driving traffic to their (locations),” he says, adding CanadaWheels is also pursuing a similar agreement with Mr. Lube to help visitors to his site find the quick oil chain’s nearest locations.  

The 13-person company is eyeing other ways to diversify its customer and product base.

Taebi says he expects to add auto accessories such as bike and roof racks and “lift kits” that help trucks accommodate fancier, larger rim sizes to CanadaWheels’ product roster soon. And he is forecasting the company will make its long-awaited debut south of the border before the end of this year ​– a move that has the potential to fuel a whole new wave of exponential growth.

Indeed, things appear to be rolling along smoothly for CanadaWheels.

With the firm’s fiscal year-end still more than three months away, Taebi says the site has already surpassed last year’s revenues. Even before it was redesigned, he says, it attracted four times as many page views in 2018 as it did the previous year, a trend that shows no signs of slowing down in 2019.

Taebi has had to navigate his share of bumps in the road along the way, whether it’s managing the logistics of the shipping process or finding new ways to thwart would-be fraudsters. But no one ever said the life of an entrepreneur would be a Sunday afternoon drive.

“It’s been challenging,” Taebi concedes. “We’re definitely learning every day and tweaking and adjusting to make sure we stay on top.”