Last night I spent some quality time with Eric Daoust, the man behind the magic at Teknotik in Toronto. From his humble origins, to what the future holds, and even a sneak peak at some upcoming events, we covered it all.
BLD: So to get us started as we often do, tell us a bit about yourself for those who may not be familiar.
Eric @ Teknotik.com: Well, I’m Eric Daoust and I am from Teknotik.com. We are a Performance Parts Store, installation facility and Online Store based in Toronto, Canada. Teknotik started with an aim of focusing on the Honda and Acura Marketplace in Canada, selling used JDM engines, but later transitioned to new performance parts and providing installation services. I’m a true Honda fan myself that has followed a path of hobby turned business and have been running Teknotik going into its 12th year in business serving Canadians coast to coast.
BLD: As you mentioned, you began in 2004 as an online operation specializing in sourcing JDM engines parts, and wheels — what was your original vision for Teknotik?
Eric: Its actually quite coincidental that when we started we were entirely focused online in our early days and now we are back to that online focus. Our original goal was aimed at supplying high quality used JDM imported engines and do things differently than the common JDM shops of that time with being able to provide other hard to find parts like wheels, clusters, seats, and OEM JDM components. With our really strict standards and very thorough inspections of the engines we sold we were really fortunate to have so much momentum early on and establish ourselves in that space. There was (and still is) so much misinformation and fallacies surrounding JDM engines and we gained attention by breaking some of those down publically. In those early years we only sold used JDM parts and that at the time was the entire concept for Teknotik. As the years went on and these engines aged, we slowly transitioned to selling new parts and stopped selling JDM engines. It became too difficult to source engines that met our standards as the engines entered the 15-20 year old mark.
BLD: I would say you’ve helped correct that misinformation very effectively, sourcing engines with a little as 300km and really breaking the perception of imported motors at the time.
Where did the name Teknotik come from?
Eric: The name was just a totally made up word that carries no meaning that was put together by two early business partners in their really early concept for the business. Looking back, it might not have been the best choice… but its stuck now. The one thing going for the name is it’s not easily confused with any other name or business. Some people say tech-no-tik, some tek-note-tic; we pronounce it “tech-nah-tic”. Its seems anyone who can speak french says it “properly”.
BLD: Even so, we love it! It’s become instantly recognizable within the Honda community.
Going back a bit further — what started your passion for cars in the first place?
Eric: I grew up just outside of Ottawa in rural Ontario and really had an attraction to all things mechanical early on. Where we lived there were many farms around so it was a daily occurrence to see tractors, trucks and heavy equipment always around. Most of the books that I favoured as a child had cars in them, or featured cars – So I think that helped ingrain it along with endless roadways in dirt piles in the back yard and sand piles with toy cars. As I got older when you live out of town you realize that cars are your connection to your friends and any social life and give you that freedom. Although I always had summer jobs and part time jobs owning a car was always a pipe dream as an middle aged teen and I ended up with a motorcycle before I owned a car. Its kind of embarrassing now to say as a “car guy”, but I didn’t even get my drivers license right at 16.. I had my motorcycle license first. From there, I don’t know if I will ever remember what specifically it was, but the Honda Prelude became my first “dream car”.
BLD: Based on your vehicle history I absolutely believe that. You’ve had a long history of Hondas — 7 Preludes, 3 Integras including an Integra Type-R that was featured in Honda Tuning Magazine, and of course your NSX. Which was your favourite and why? Also, what made the Prelude a dream car for you?
Eric: I love driving the NSX, but I would have to say the 1998 Integra Type R was my favourite of all the Hondas, having owned at one point every model of Honda and almost every generation 92-06. Like most people when they are working for something to save and buy it, it changes the experience especially when it’s your first car. It took me quite a while to save up and buy my first prelude which for me made it all the much more important. I can’t tell you how many Auto Trader classified magazines I used to look through hoping to find one I could afford.
BLD: It really does make that car special after all the time and effort put into finding “the one.” I felt the same when I finally found my EP3 — it really leaves a lasting impression on you.
What did car culture in Ontario look like when you first became involved during the 90’s?
Eric: That questions directly ties into what elevated my passion for cars. With message forms just starting at that time the online car community was amazing and I quickly became really heavily involved in car events and car clubs locally. It was a great, a real community and friendship building environment. Despite what some of the cars and trends at the time looked like it was all about the people. The import side of scene was still really new, and “tuners” came in all makes and models.
BLD: Where do you see it going in the years to come?
Eric: Back then it was hard to see a vision beyond that portrayed in movies. Racing ( having a streetable race car) was still so new at the time for imports in Canada. The parking lots meets seemed to just always get bigger and bigger and that was the bulk of the scene. As time went on though and the parts got better, so did the cars. In Ontario there has been a huge movement to road racing/circuit racing and time attack. It’s incredible now that you can do those things with the same car you drive to work every day. I think as time goes on you will see import racing get more and more popular since it’s so much more accessible on a grassroots level now to someone who just wants to go to the track and have to chance to get some laps in for a few hours.
BLD: Ertefa is a great example of that — they’ve become massive in recent years. You mentioned earlier you started on bikes, and we’ve seen you also have a Honda CBR you bring with you on your vacations to the Maritimes. Does Teknotik get many customers on 2 wheels, or is that more of a personal affair?
Eric: That’s more of just a personal escape for me. While we have many customers that have bikes as well as cars, we stay busy with dealing with 4 wheel machines.
BLD: Fair enough! While we’re on the topic, what draws you to the East Coast for a getaway?
Eric: I count myself very fortunate to have fallen in love with the east coast. With my work demands and not being able to ever really take planned days off one year I impulsively took a week off and just left with really no direction on my CBR and headed east. 2500km and two days later of a 6500km ride I ended up in Cape Breton/Nova Scotia… and I guess you guys know what they say about that place… “your heart will never leave”. The Cabot Trail sealed the deal for me as the east coast being one of the best places to visit in Canada and I have gone back now annually for 5 years to ride the trail. The people are all so friendly and amazing, the food is great, the roads are twisty and scenic and the air is just better there. Oh and I forget…. the beer….
BLD: My fellow Nova Scotians and I are happy to have you here for a proper beer any time! Your country-wide services are top notch — do you have many customers on the East Coast when compared with say, the West?
Eric: Yes, although we do have customers coast to coast, the East Coast outdoes the West mainly because I think over the years we have got to know so many people well in the Maritimes and they have entrusted not only their parts needs with us, but also their friends with referrals. Also, its only two days ( yes 48 hours) for us to get a part from us in Toronto to most parts of the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, so we provide people with a pretty fast solution, especially when they are in a jam.
BLD: I can attest to that personally — you had a clutch on my desk in 18 hours when mine blew, and an axle at my door less than 48 hours after I put in my order. I was blown away with the level of service.
Eric: That doesn’t just happen – We have a great team here and good industry partners. Getting parts in Canada is not always easy. We work really hard to ship quickly and it’s a huge objective here to deliver things faster and cheaper than buying in the states and having to wait or pay duty, customs and brokerage charges.
BLD: I think I can comfortably say on behalf of all your eastern customers, you hit that nail on the head. Recently you relocated to a new shop and created a brand new online webstore, carrying over 100 different brands and countless products — a good indication business is moving in the right direction. What have been the biggest growth factors in recent years?
Eric: We have experienced huge growth and are really lucky that has taken us from a local Toronto shop to shipping parts across Canada everyday. Our new website is still growing and we are working on it constantly to get more and more of what we have in stock and carry on the site – a very time consuming process. We do however do phone and email orders for items that are not yet on our website or we have worked out package pricing for our client, so we go beyond just online.
The factors that have led to this growth are first and foremost level of service followed by very competitive pricing. For someone that has never dealt with us personally, we might come across as just another website, but once they communicate with us they see why we have the reputation we do. Most people don’t expect this type of experience and expertise tied to a online store. We are not just another site with a part number. We respond to every email personally, we have live online chat with our experts (not some random call center). When you call in you are speaking to someone that knows these parts inside out, and if you have an installation question or issue and call us – you can talk to that same guy that installs that same part here for us. We give customers options and learn about their car and uses to help find the best part for them – not just “here this fits”. Even though we can get a lot of different parts from many brands – you won’t always see every part they offer listed. We sell what we know works and what we would install on our own cars. Honesty is key. The other factor is price. You HAVE to be competitive and you have to save people money to earn their business. We know there are many places you can choose to buy that part and that we have to get it to you at the best price to earn your business.
BLD: You’ve also established Teknotik as one of the best NSX service centers — how did you make that happen?
Eric: That’s a team accomplishment. Our lead mechanic who works on our clients NSX’s is an incredibly meticulous and process orientated licensed mechanic and takes great pride in his work and attention to detail. He disassembled my NSX essentially to the bare chassis and “refreshed” it and is familiar with the ins and outs of the car and its many intricacies. Again, however – our higher level of service and our customers NSX clients testimonials speak for them self:
I had my timing belt and waterpump service done (precautionary) this spring at Teknotik. I had asked around Toronto with the usual suspects for quotes and the responses I got were astronomical prices which did not include all required items to do the job (really, updated tb cover is ‘extra’?) OR the responses were inconsistent and delayed (sorry if I’m leaving my baby with you you better answer emails promptly, clearly, and explain things). Eric at Teknotik replies to my long-winded emails VERY quickly (especially when you consider the volume of price-check emails the guy must be dealing with) and also replies thoroughly and thoughtfully – making suggestions and offering guidance to save time and money and most important put your mind at ease. His techs are VERY knowledgable about the NSX and it’s quirks (yes, there’s many) and even went so far as to take photos of various areas of the engine that may need attention in the future while they had it apart. They also went through all the parts they took OFF my car when I picked it up which goes a long way to re-assure you of your maintenance regime and catch anything you’re missing. While it was in I also had Eric install a Pride V2 exhaust (WHICH SOUNDS EPIC BY THE WAY) which they test fit first to make sure it fit with my downforce diffuser. Teknotik actually STOCKS oem and aftermarket parts for the NSX which is rare enough in any shop, let alone in Toronto, and let alone for the NSX, add to this the fact that he REALLY understands customer service (even MORE rare) and I honestly can’t see taking my NSX anywhere else for this kind of service. There’s lots of great shops in the GTA but Teknotik stands head and shoulders above in my opinion for service and quality when it comes to our cars. I would not hesitate to recommend any NSX owners within 1500km make the trip to him – he’s that good. And for reference no Eric isn’t paying me to say these things, he’ll probably be embarrassed, but dealt with a lot of shops in the area so I think I have a great frame of reference. I’ve seen first hand and heard from other customers over and over the guy work himself to the ground for his customers whether they own a NSX or a Civic – that deserves recognition in our community.
BLD: That is absolutely epic.
Eric: When we get feedback like that it really makes me love my job even more – because that is the impression and experience we want to leave and deliver to every client. It’s great when that is achieved.
BLD: Based on the testimonies on your website, I would say that you achieve that goal exceedingly well. Any intentions to expand your focus beyond primarily Honda & Acura?
Eric: In the future we certainly will be but that will take the right new hire for our team as that comes down to being a “master of your field” and delivering to your customer what you promise. There are enough cars shops out there that know “a little about everything but not a lot about your car”. McDonald’s might know how to cook, but you don’t go in there asking for a steak. We are Honda and Acura experts because we have the experience and knowledge, and because of that we can deliver on our promise.
BLD: If you could pick which area to focus on next, which would you want it to be?
Eric: Many of our long time customers are going to give us the answer to that one in the future. As they have grown older, moved on from Hondas and had families not many have been able to shake that car modification bug and keep coming back to us. We have many customers who have moved onto to Lexus, Porsche, Subaru, and even trucks for their daily drivers. With that being said Honda is going to have a whole new life with the new 10th generation Civics and the NSX’s return.
BLD: I have a feeling you may be slightly excited for the new generation.
Eric: Yes, I’m really looking forward to the new Si and the arrival of the Type R.
BLD: To change gears, Teknotik has hosted and played a role in some of the best Canadian auto events such as Honda Tech. Anything on the horizon we should be watching for?
Eric: We have a few things on our “to do” list for 2016. The Honda-Tech Meet may see a comeback.
BLD: Any chance of a sneak-peak for our readers?
Eric: Not yet, but Balanced will be one of the first to know! We’d love to some east coast rides make the trip to Ontario again!
BLD: You can count on us being there — we’ve been hoping to make that pilgrimage again! It was the most memorable event I’ve ever attended.
Eric: With that being said, we hope to get some of #teamteknotik and make the trip east this year for at least one of your local events.
BLD: There may or may not be a Balanced show in the works.. We’d love to have you there!
BLD: Eric, I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time this evening to talk and share with our readers. Your work is an inspiration to many, myself included. Any closing thoughts?
Eric: I guess a few things…
- If you are reading this and thinking about getting into the tuner scene, go check out an event and meet some of the car community. All across Canada there are great clubs, groups, local meets and teams that are passionate about cars and welcoming if you’re ready to get involved.
- Slow and steady. Building a great car takes time. You don’t have to create a 700hp car overnight or build that show winning or time attack monster car in a month. Choose your parts wisely, plan your build and take your time.
- Try Teknotik! Next time you need a part, help, advice, recommendations or installation tips give us a call 1-888-744-0174, email us or click “chat with us” live on our website and experience what makes us the experts in Canada!
Eric: Thanks to you as well Jonathan for this opportunity to reach out to the East Coast and share a bit out our history and mission. Greatly appreciated!
BLD: To you as well! Glad I’m able to share #teamteknotik with my corner of the country.