30 Under 30: The trio behind Langley’s DealerShift are revving up transparency in their business model

Its co-founders claim that DealerShift is like an Apple Store for cars.

Austin Calla, Hamish McKay and Evan Locke, 25 + 25 + 25

Co-founders, DealerShift

Life Story: At 22 years old, Austin Calla, Evan Locke and Hamish Mckay—childhood friends from Langley—all left their jobs at a car dealership to open one of their own during the height of the pandemic. “We started to identify things that customers didn’t like within the traditional industry,” says Calla.

The usual car dealership model didn’t align with their values—they wanted to provide a more transparent car-purchasing process. “There are a lot of uncomfortable points for customers throughout the sales process, and that led us to want to drastically change the way vehicles are sold,” Calla explains. 

At the time, the trio was studying business at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Inspired to create a dealership that disrupted the old way of buying a car, they began developing an idea. Starting with a fleet of 12 vehicles priced at around $12,000 each, the trio opened DealerShift in June 2020. “We were in school full-time, and then we went down to three courses, then two courses, and eventually quit to pursue our business,” says Locke.

Priding itself on “no sleaze, no suits, no lies and no pressure,” the business operates on a negotiation-free basis, forgoing commissions to ensure customers’ interests are put first. “We’re like an Apple store,” says Mckay. “We’re low-pressure and casual, and basically just give people information.”

The team brings vehicles directly to interested people for test drives seven days a week across the Lower Mainland, and provides a seven-day/300-kilometre money-back guarantee. The business is entirely run by the three co-founders, although they maintain relationships with mechanic shops, detailers and parts suppliers to get their cars ready for resale.

Bottom Line: Between 2020 and 2022, the team grew its revenue by 475 percent. DealerShift has nearly 40 vehicles in its inventory, and the plan is to expand operations within Western Canada to include the interior of B.C., Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatchewan over the next five years.