For local entrepreneur Roy Dirnbeck, a part-time hobby was the catalyst for a reality television debut.
Five years after the small business owner from Mississauga saw an episode of the show Storage Wars, Dirnbeck was cast as part of the Canadian spinoff.
“I fell in love with it because it was like modern-day treasure hunting,” he told YourMississaugaBiz.com during a break in filming.
Being part of Storage Wars Canada is a big change from Dirnbeck’s day job, a specialized, around-the-clock courier business that he runs with his wife. “I’ve been doing it ever since university,” he said. “I went on my own about 13 years ago with Critical Choice.”
The flexibility of his company allowed Dirnbeck to sneak off and see auctions for himself. “I couldn’t believe the units people were leaving behind and how much you could get it for and how much you could find in it,” he said. “It became addictive.”
After years of sneaking off and selling all sorts of items, Dirnbeck was ‘discovered’ and cast directly from a storage auction and given the nickname “The Instigator.”
Still, everything that Dirnbeck buys at auction that he intends to sell is sold at local auction houses. “One is Principle Liquidators in Mississauga off Laird Road,” he said, “And there’s another one in Brampton that’s called TNT Auctions.”
Many times a hot market and solid interest have helped Dirnbeck generate higher-than-expected profits. “I’ve brought things to an auction house and I thought it might be worth $100-$200,” he said. “You get two or three people there who really like it and the price can go up to $600 quickly.”
While filming the show takes up 20-30 hours of his week, Dirnbeck said he is still involved with Critical Choice on a near-daily basis.
“I still have to come home and do my paperwork, do the billing and a lot of other stuff people don’t realize,” he said, noting he employs four dedicated drivers and subcontracts work to other companies when needed.
That access to drivers and trucks has helped Dirnbeck with the most labourious part of storage auctions: cleaning out the actual units. “I can’t even tell you how much work is involved, it’s a lot,” he said, noting it’s the major reason why rookies often quit. “They don’t know what to do with it [in the two ways] so they start dumping it and losing money.”
Failing to clean up a unit can lead to bans and some storage lockers are simply full of garbage. “You really have to know what you’re buying,” he said.
Even after being cast for the OLN show, Dirnbeck profiting from storage auctions isn’t something most people can quit their day job for, especially since the really lucrative $40,000- $50,000 lockers are fairly rare.
“You’re making about $1,000 a week and you’re doing a lot of work for it,” he said. “And that’s if you’re good.”
For now, Dirnbeck is still glad to have Critical Choice as his back up in case the auction market goes down.
“I’ve seen people who watch the show, quit their jobs and say they’re going to open up a store, they don’t last more than a year till reality bites them in the ass.”