Company Profile: A Family Affair
Time Central’s Gonçalves clan understands the importance in standing as a united front
By Cayla Ramey
Time seems to speed up when you walk into this family-run business.
With 1200-1400 repairs coming through the shop every week, the team makes their fast-paced workday look easy. The meticulous detail that goes into their work, whether it’s watch repair or customer service, is incredible.
Time Central boasts a passionate team that stands on quality repairs for every brand that they service. Their values are as deeply rooted in the business as their knowledge. After 35 years in the business, their shop is the largest independent watch repair company in Canada—but they aren’t done growing.
Through the generations
Joseph Gonçalves had two choices when he was accepted into George Brown College—mechanic or watch repair. He chose the latter, graduating in 1968 with the highest marks for an apprentice in Ontario. Fifty years later, he has passed a successful watch repair company down to his three children—Ryan, Andrew, and Leslie Gonçalves.
The plaque he received after graduating is hanging in his eldest son’s office. Though each of Joe’s three children have their part in the business, it’s clear that its operations have been built on unity. “I look after the company for my dad, my sister looks after the operations for Time Central, and my brother looks after Watch Dials,” says Ryan.
Joe has created a foundation for the family that has given them the opportunity to share their passion.
“Our father created this for us 35 years ago, and Ryan is creating it for our children for the next 35,” says Leslie Gonçalves, the youngest of Joe’s children.
Time Central knows that what stands behind their success is “a combination of three things: innovation, customer service, and a good team of staff.”
Becoming successful is about seeing a demand and meeting it. Often consumers bring a watch back to where they bought it, but that retailer is not equipped to repair it. Realizing that there was a void in the market, the Gonçalves family decided to fill it with a service unlike any other. Not only do they repair watches from many brands, such as Hermès, Movado, Frédérique Constant, and Bell & Ross, but they also refinish watch faces, repair jewellery, and even sell a variety of common watch parts and repair tools. Being a one-stop shop means that they are constantly reviewing their work and evolving.
Part of instilling trust is adapting to the needs of the brands they service. “Each brand is unique in what they want to offer their customers,” Ryan says. Recognizing what other companies do well and taking the best from each has made their service one of the best in the industry.
“When you’re the frontline customer service, you understand what the customer wants,” Leslie says. Through her own experience, she adds, she has noticed that the customer wants to feel informed. This realization has allowed her to develop a customer service team that is always looking to improve in order to satisfy customer needs.
“We work with a lot of our retailers to make sure they have a good program in-store for watch repairs,” Ryan says. Their goal as a company is to support others in the industry.
In order to do so, they’ve established an incredible team,, from their customer service representatives—who speak over 10 languages combined—to their Swiss-trained watchmakers, watch technicians and jewellers. “You need to know your team and what they are capable of so you can divvy out the work appropriately,” Ryan says.
Communication is key for creating a successful business. They created a custom in-house training program to help track the progress of their team. Through communication with their team and with their customers, they are always evolving to keep their business relevant.
“We aren’t a know-it-all company,” Ryan says. Having that attitude has given him and his siblings the chance to utilize their father’s knowledge with some modern creativity.
Expanding the brand
What would be the next step for Canada’s largest independent watch repair company? An expansion, of course.
“Most of the competition we have is in Toronto and Montreal. Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal are the three largest cities in Canada. It just made sense for us to have three different shops and allow any brand that comes into Canada the comfort of knowing they can have the same company do everything across the board,” Ryan says.
With their new store, which they hope to open in 2017, they are also developing new relationships with a few brands, as well as sending a few members of their repair team to Switzerland to train with some of these brands.
They have also recently started working on a distribution relationship with Luminox watches, an exciting new venture for them that they will be concentrating on for the rest of this year.
To keep themselves organized and be more efficient, they have decided to launch a mobile application for retailers, brands and consumers to stay informed during the watch repair process.
“One of the things we would like to focus on is the accessibility of information from us,” Ryan says. “We are constantly changing and constantly evolving.”
The Gonçalves siblings are an all-star team. “Our father raised us in this business, so it’s always been a part of us,” Leslie says. Each having their own strengths and part in the business, they are committed to continuing to execute their father’s vision while making it their own. It is this understanding of their roots and willingness to constantly adapt that has made their business as successful as it is today. CJ