A County Down lorry driver was inspired by his toddler son to start his own business importing miniature vehicles for the motor loving Northern Ireland public.
Andrew Mitchell had been trying to source a miniature truck for little Jaxon and found exactly what he wanted in England.
He drove to England to collect the lorry and decided then and there to start bringing in the beautifully designed replica vehicles and his business, Wee Wheels Ride On Cars, was born.
Andrew said: “I have always wanted to run my own business. When I met the guy in England to buy the lorry for my son he asked if was interested in setting up a business in Northern Ireland and using him as a wholesaler.”
The business has grown quickly and they have moved into a unit at Strangford Park, part of the Ards Business Hub.
“The staff at Ards Business Hub have been very helpful. When I asked for a new unit for extra storage, they quickly accommodated me.
“Choosing Ards Business Hub has been one of my best decisions. It gives us lots of storage, a permanent address and we can trade seven days a week,” said Andrew.
Ards Business Hub Chief Executive Nichola Lockhart said that Wee Wheels Ride On Cars was a great example of the entrepreneurial spirit of people in Northern Ireland.
“Andrew quickly spotted an opportunity and a real demand for a product and just went for it,” she said.
“We are happy to help in whatever way we can to develop the business.”
The business has grown so much he recently dispatched a large container directly to China to import dozens more vehicles. It is scheduled to arrive in Northern Ireland later this year.
Andrew has also found a niche for customised vehicles for lorry drivers and farmers who want to replicate their own lorries and tractors in miniature form for their children.
“As a lorry driver myself, I could see how much fun it would be to replicate your own truck for your child.
“We do this by changing the colour or adding company graphics and lights.
“And a local farmer asked us to repaint a toy tractor to match the colour of his own vehicle,” he explained.
Andrew’s wife Danielle, a care worker and beautician, also joined the business, discovering a talent for assembling the vehicles and looking after the social media.
If extra help is required, Andrew’s parents pitch in, while two-and-a-half-year-old Jaxon has become the company’s test driver.
“Jaxon has a four-wheel drive beach buggy and police car but wants to drive every model he sees!
“As long as he doesn’t drive a real car the way he drives the mini versions then he will be all right,” said Danielle.