Andy was employed by Otis Elevator Company in Toronto and was known as a mechanical trouble-shooter and talented with anything technical.
In the 1960s, Airstreams were dramatically more complex and advanced than any other RV on the market, but compared to the elevators in a 50-storey building, they were still pretty simple.
At the Rallies, Andy was constantly in demand to “just take a look at this.” It rapidly became apparent that an Airstream store with a technically advanced service department would be a solid business venture and a great way to use his mechanical prowess and creativity to help out the many people who enjoyed RVing as he did.
In 1969, Andy and two other Airstream owners, Al Hamill and Dr. Lew Hersey decided to go into partnership.
The cost of land in the Toronto area made a large service department unaffordable there. So in February 1970, Andy left Otis Elevator, sold his home in Toronto and moved the family to London, Ontario.
Can-Am Trailers was born. The partnership purchased 17 acres on Highway 4 between the 401 and the then to-be-built 402, in the southwest corner of London, known then as Lambeth. They built a facility that housed four large indoor service bays—something that was unknown in the RV industry at that time—and a small office and reception area.
News of Can-Am’s unique and high-quality service spread through the RV network. Andy knew little about selling RVs but he believed Airstream was the best trailer available. Shored by the steady demand for its service offerings, Can-Am survived those formative years easily. In 1972, Can-Am was recognized as Canada’s largest Airstream dealership.
From the beginning, Andy Sr. was always very fussy about properly setting up hitches and matching the right tow vehicle with a trailer.
In 1977 when car manufacturers began to produce smaller vehicles, everyone felt it was the end of the RV industry. But not Dad. He applied his considerable technical skill to the problem and soon proved that the smaller cars, with smaller engines, were actually superior tow vehicles.
This brought a whole new group of clients to Can-Am and for several years we sold more properly outfitted tow vehicles than we did trailers. Our continuing journey of learning more about hitches, tow vehicle properties and towing in general began.
I spent many of my teenage years working alongside my Dad at the shop. We’d spend hours reasoning out towing challenges and experimenting with vehicles, trailers and hitch combinations. And eventually my younger brother Kirk got pulled into the process too. Together, we developed a body of knowledge that forms the foundation of Can-Am’s towing expertise today.