Do More of What You Love


March 8, 2024

Words by: Francesca Roznicki

Photography by: Fontaine Lewis

Lessons from a life well-lived with Desmond Ross

Passionate about all things, Desmond Ross has been going all-in on life for as long as he can remember. As a husband, father of teens, and owner of the downtown Fix Auto location, his hands are full but he always makes time for what’s important. We asked Ross about what he finds important, his approach to work-life balance, and how he wants to be remembered. 

You have had an interesting career path. Tell us about that. 

I started my business, Auto Details, in December 1993, focusing on auto appearance and maintenance. We were pioneers in the industry. My brother-in-law—not a big believer at the time—asked me if I was going to start my business with just soap and water. A couple of weeks ago, he told me it was a good thing I didn’t listen to him!

We started out detailing cars. Because we were one of the first, we had nothing to gauge how we were doing. We just plowed through and paved the way. We eventually added in services to take care of small damage repair as well. We weren’t connected with the insurance companies, though, so we couldn’t take on bigger claims. We looked for the proper franchise banner that we could work with to take on this bigger market and we found that Fix Auto held the closest values to our own. We pitched them on why we were successful with what we were doing, and the rest is history. 

We became the downtown territory for Fix Auto which is amazing because we didn’t lose any of our other customers. We are now the highest-rated Canadian Fix Auto on Google because we have elements that provide customer service as well as detailing. 

It’s not all by design; I can’t say that’s how we planned it. We’ve focused on what we do best and it’s proven to be successful. People bring their cars to us to fix, but then when they get them back, we wow them because we put the icing on their cake.

Desmond Ross

How do you find the balance between being a business owner and an involved parent?

I wanted to be established before I had kids so that I wouldn’t have to miss a thing that they were involved in. I wanted to be there for them. We do many things together and we’re always hanging out together. We have a family that I dreamed of having. Most people either have the money but not the time, or they have the time and not the money. My goal in life was to get after it early so that I could provide both to my family.

What makes you most proud when you look back on what you’ve accomplished? 

I’m most proud of the balanced lifestyle that I’ve maintained. A lot of people blend their work into their home and they call it a work-life balance. I think you have to be in the moment for work, and you have to also be in the moment for your family (and yourself) when needed—not blended; separate. 

I think I’m most proud of the balance that I’ve had in my life because it’s allowed me to do everything and live exactly the way I wanted. I belong to a group called the Edmonton Executive Association. A member once told me that she loved that I was as passionate about my work as I was about everything else. That I “lived life.” When somebody gives you that validation, it feels great.

What does the future look like for you? 

Having a lot more of what I love and a lot less of what I don’t. I have that written on a sticky note on my desk. We just celebrated 30 years in business. I don’t think about retiring, I just want to keep doing exactly what I love and do less of what I don’t. If I can make it for another 30 years doing that, I can’t ask for anything more. 

How would you like to be remembered?

As someone who always said yes for the right reasons. When I found out that my wife was pregnant with our first child, I asked my mentors and family members for advice. I wanted to learn. I asked them what they would do differently if they could go back. The common thread for all of them was time. Funny enough, I don’t remember my dad ever not being there, so, for him to say that, I knew that time must be important. I’d do anything for my kids—and I don’t mean letting them have a fifth ice cream; I mean that if my kids want or need me, I’ll drop what I’m doing. Can we play mini sticks? Yes. Can we dance? Yes. Can we take the dogs for a walk? Yes. I want that time with them. I want to be remembered for that, and for being someone who got the absolute most out of life.

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