The Advisor

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Charlene Combdon: 2018 Trendsetter Award



Charlene Combdon of Rock Solid Diesel is delighted to be recognized as a trendsetter by NLOWE after five years in business: “As a female in a nontraditional industry and an aboriginal woman, I can be a role model for other females who face stumbling blocks and barriers. The world needs our ideas!"


"The world needs our ideas."

Charlene finds motivation in her employees and her customers. “My employees are striving every day to make sure safety standards are met and customers are satisfied, to make Rock Solid Diesel successful.” They show up for work on time and they stay late; sometimes they work weekends . . . for Charlene, they’re like family.


Innovation and original thinking are important in this field, Charlene says: she needs to know the industry, to see the gaps in the market. Because technology in the truck and transport sector is constantly evolving, she has to know what her competitors are doing: “We need to stay on top of things, to make sure we don’t miss anything.”


Charlene’s inspiration comes from within: the people who’ve helped her to get where she is now—“my community, my family, my nation.” She also acknowledges NLOWE’s support.

Giving back to the community is important for Charlene and her business: “We are constantly engaging our community and our youth, because our youth are the future.” Charlene hires apprentice mechanics from the Central region straight from college; they are trained to meet the company’s and the clients’ needs. This is a way to offer opportunities to young people locally and to affect economic development in the area. “At the end of the day,” Charlene says, “when they become journeypersons, we have succeeded.”


Charlene’s advice for entrepreneurs is to be yourself, to believe in yourself, to take risks: “Don’t be afraid to fail: failure leads to success!”


Even when she was in high school, Charlene realized that she wanted to go into business. She attended a conference about entrepreneurship at Dalhousie University, made a business plan . . . after that she just needed to know what area to focus on. Eventually she chose heavy diesel repair, because after 15 years in the truck and trailer industry—chiefly in logistics and dispatching—it was what she knew best.


Being a business owner appealed to Charlene because it meant she was in control: “In order for me to take care of my future, I knew that I was the one who needed to be in control.” In an industry with constant layoffs, she found a gap in the market in central Newfoundland. “There was a lack of mobile diesel callout, so I capitalized on that market.” Rock Solid Diesel has mechanics available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year a to go to roadside and remote breakdowns of transport trucks. Charlene’s experience had shown her that the need was there: “The industry is constant: it doesn’t shut down at 5 pm. Roadside breakdowns can happen after 5 pm.”


The next phase is expansion: Charlene plans to continue current services and also to move into insurance and warrantee work, total loss and recovery. The sky is the limit, she says enthusiastically; “we’re young, we’re innovative, and we can’t wait to expand!”

Trendsetter recognizes an entrepreneur who owns and operates a successful business that employs innovation and original thinking in both its operational and promotional activities. This entrepreneur's business stands out from others in its industry for setting trends and turning traditional ideas on their heads. Sponsored by TD