Newmarket student builds business with help of grant

Newmarket high school student Golden Stickwood had enjoyed working as a referee for hockey games during hockey season.

But the work stopped at the beginning of April so he wanted to find some other way of working.

His cousin told him about York Region’s Summer Company Program last year.

“So, I sort of just applied on a whim, didn’t really expect to get in or anything,” he said.

But he did get into the program.

Stickwood, 17, lives in Newmarket and attends Sacred Heart Catholic High School.

The program is offered by more than 50 small business enterprise centres throughout Ontario. The York Small Business Enterprise Centre offers the program to students in the northern six York Region municipalities (Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Newmarket and Whitchurch-Stouffville). Vaughan runs a program just for Vaughan. Vaughan’s deadline is April 17 while York’s deadline is May 15.

Basic eligibility criteria includes: Being a York Region resident aged 15 to 29, must be a student returning to school in the fall, plan to start a new summer business, have not received a previous Summer Company grant.

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In the program, a $3,000 grant is offered to participants.

Stickwood’s grandfather is a retired pressure washer. He still has the washer equipment and told Stickwood he could use it for his business.

Pressure washing is used for exterior deep cleaning, things like siding, concrete tables, driveways and decks.

Stickwood ended up running his business — Newmarket Pressure Washing for residential and commercial — from May to October.

“We did well, for sure we’re in the green. So not even including the startup money. I’m still in the green, which I was pretty happy with,” he said.

He made $5,000 in revenue; His expenses were $2,500.

Participants were trained in different topics including: finances, tracking finances properly, tracking working hours so students can see basically what, (even if you don’t have employees), you end up paying yourself at an hourly rate, understanding that lots of training is in marketing. Mentors from larger, more successful businesses come in and teach marketing strategies. Also, learning about insurance, and you learn the importance of insurance and different websites and places to look for what a reasonable cost of insurance would be.

Stickwood plans to run his business again this summer.

Running his business had its challenges. “It was definitely a lot to absorb,” he said. “And at times, it’s definitely overwhelming. I mean, at one point, I got a call from the Plaza that they wanted to have the plaza clean and it was a much larger job, than I had done before. I didn’t end up getting the job, but it was an interesting experience. And so learning not to get overexcited about potential sales and not spending money you don’t have yet to prepare for those jobs.

What Golden Stickwood gained from starting his own business is more than the money he earned or the experience he gained.

One of his most valuable gains is the confidence he acquired.

“I guess that I’m capable of doing it. Because I mean, when I kind of started out that business, I honestly wasn’t sure if it was something that I’d be able to do.”

He further explains: “Because of my age, I wasn’t sure that people would want to pay for a service because of my age. I think what I’ve learned is that if you’re professional in your approach, and you put in the necessary effort to show people that you are professional, that will give you a chance and that you can be successful.”

For more information on York Region’s summer program, go to

For more information on Stickwood’s business, go to

Correction April 8, 2023: This article has been edited from a previous version that misstated Newmarket Pressure Washing’s revenue.

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