New Ford Transit Connect Wagon owner Devin Stovall is one of a growing number of entrepreneurs putting their passion to work in a side venture.
Stovall, a husband and father of two from Lincoln Heights, Calif., recently won a customized 2016 Transit Connect Wagon as the randomly selected recipient of the Ford #Unminivan Giveaway.
“This summer, I’ll use our Transit Connect Wagon to service bicycles and wheelchairs on weekends and days off from my full-time job at a bicycle shop,” said Stovall. He plans to spend off-hours with his wagon fixing bicycles at popular mountain bike trails, BMX tracks and bicycle races, as well as repairing wheelchairs onsite at senior centers and assisted-living facilities.
Stovall’s Transit Connect Wagon has been customized with a roof rack, tow hitch, four-bike trailer, portable bicycle repair stand, roof-mounted Thule cargo box, air compressor, tire inflator and professional 65-piece toolkit. Ford also provided him with a portable DVD player and Apple iPad Air, so cyclists can watch cycling videos while their rides are repaired.
“During the week, I’ll use it to drive my oldest to preschool and my littlest to daycare,” he added. “Then, when I flip the seats down, it’s a great grocery-getter and beach-gear transporter. Being able to do this on my days off is really going to help give my family a better quality of life. I have to make a living, but I also want to help other people.”
Stovall isn’t the only one looking to make the most of his resources with a side business.
Side businesses are on the rise
Nick Loper, founder of the Side Hustle Nation blog and podcast, said the growing number of side ventures has been spurred by wage stagnation, decreased job security, and the rise of online platforms that reduce barriers to entrepreneurship and make it possible to work remotely.
“Part of it is reactive, in response to the job market and other factors, but the other part is proactive – people saying, ‘I want to work on the stuff I want to work on,’” said Loper.
Besides supplementing their income, many people are looking to exercise skills and passions not being used and fulfilled at their 9-to-5 jobs, he added.
Ford’s Sheryl Connelly, trends and futuring manager, said that in the aftermath of the great recession, people are reevaluating their situations. “They realize they have things that are underutilized that they can monetize, including vehicles and time,” she said. “Participating in the gig economy gives us a buffer, helping us work to live instead of live to work.”
The trend toward side work may continue as more and more millennials join the workforce. A 2015 survey of millennials by FlexJobs revealed that 33 percent of participants would ideally want to work part-time and freelance on the side.
Transit Connect Wagon supports work and play
Transit Connect Wagon will provide the versatility Stovall needs to bring his bike repair side venture to life and keep his family on the go.
“Transit Connect Wagon is great for dual use because there’s a lot of room for cargo and equipment with the seats folded,” said Stovall. “I also love how great it handles when cornering. I couldn’t think of a better vehicle in terms of interior space and gas mileage.”
The short-wheelbase Transit Connect Wagon with a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine has an EPA-estimated rating of 22 city/29 highway/25 combined mpg. Numbers like that can prove attractive to budget-conscious families and small business owners.
“The right vehicle is your partner for work or play,” said Julie Vangel, Ford assistant brand manager for Transit Connect. “It can power your side business while still being practical for your free time and family.”
Five-passenger, short-wheelbase Transit Connect Wagons feature second-row seats that flip, fold and tumble – or can be removed entirely – to provide additional cargo room. The front passenger seat folds flat and provides a writing surface or shelf for a laptop. The low load floor is designed to make it easy to transport tools and equipment.
Ford reports that Transit Connect Wagon is the only vehicle in its class with available seven-passenger seating. Storage space expands to more than 104 cubic feet in the long-wheelbase configuration with the second- and third-row seats folded. Maximum towing capability with the available Trailer Tow Package is an unsurpassed 2,000 pounds.