The C6.ca Origin Story
In 2004, Eric Mukendi was in a car accident that resulted in a C6 spinal cord injury. Eric’s injury affected his spinal cord, near the base of his neck (or the Cervical spine #6; C6 vertebrae), leaving him immobilized from the waist down.
With the support of his family and countless numbers of medical professionals, Eric adjusted and adapted to his new life. Throughout the rehabilitation process and thereafter however, he found it challenging to secure the essential medical products he needed on a day to day basis to accommodate his new way of life. Service providers were often ill-informed and unreliable, deliveries were delayed, ordering was a hassle, or he wasn’t able to find what he was looking for on a consistent basis.
Recognizing that he surely couldn’t be the only one experiencing these challenges, along with his well earned product expertise, Eric decided to develop an online store showcasing these products in tandem with a subscription service that ensured customers weren’t affected by potential product shortages.
With a subtle nod to the physical location of his injury, Eric launched C6 Medical on June 10th, 2019 as a way to support those who needed simple, effective and reliable access to medical grade products. The business operated from Eric’s home in St. Catharines, taking over the garage as the base for both shipping and receiving.
As time went on, and the CoronaVirus reared its ugly head, Eric noticed a new group of consumers looking for products beyond the medical grade supplies he was offering. C6 Medical supported those needs by adding items such as bandages, gloves, disinfectants & masks; continuing to grow the product line to address the heightened requirements of a community in need. At the same time, the world’s supply chain was in shambles, with supplier orders being delayed by 4-6 weeks and even then, some not showing up at all.
The demands of increased business and ongoing challenges with supplier fulfillment saw the Mukendi family step in to lend a hand or two to keep up with C6 Medical’s customer needs. In addition to Eric’s parents stepping in to support wherever and however they could, Eric’s younger brother Didi, his wife Yakira and their 6 month old Rosie commuted from Kitchener to St. Catharines weekly to help the business stay organized, communicate with customers and fulfill orders.
The uptick in product demand also meant more products than a home garage could handle resulting in C6 Medical opening its first warehouse in Welland in May of 2020. Space wasn’t the only issue and as the pandemic hit its peak, manpower was also an ongoing challenge. Eric welcomed Didi on as a co-owner in March of 2020 and neither brother has looked back since.
With Covid-19 in full swing, there was an obvious demand for items such as disinfectants, sanitizers and wipes. As the Team reached out to various manufacturers, they found that the supply chain was an ongoing mess with no sign of improvement.
“We suffered a major setback at the onset of the pandemic with our supply chain. We quickly sold out of the most popular items...From that point our number one focus became to turn this around...This period was extremely difficult and frustrating, but it taught us that communication and honesty with our customers is absolutely important. This is why I stress that customer service and satisfaction is our number one priority. I do that because of this experience." ~ Eric
Wanting to do better for their customers and all those affected by product shortages, C6 Medical began manufacturing a number of bespoke products right here in the Niagara region in June of 2020 and moved to a larger warehouse in St. Catharines to accommodate the ever-growing list of product offerings.
In August of 2020, with the help of Didi and Yakira, Eric was able to begin transforming C6 Medical into the C6.ca that you know today, offering a full range of products, essential to the day to day operations of businesses and households alike.
Canadian Roots - A Family Affair
The Mukendis have called St. Catharines home for the past 23 years, with Eric and Didi growing up alongside two sisters and two more brothers in home with a long history in medicine.
Dr. Yabondo ‘Prosper’ Mukendi, the family patriarch, has owned medical clinics, run hospitals and even project managed the construction of medical buildings in South Africa over his long and illustrious career. It has been said that Eric and Didi inherited their father’s ambition and drive; it’s no wonder then, that the brothers feel blessed to be able to lean on Dr. Mukendi for his medical expertise and overall strategic advice while navigating the complexities of running C6.ca.
The Mukendi matriarch Rosalie, is known as the family healer. In addition to her medical experience working in a retirement home, she has always found nutrition-based solutions to any health issue that the family has faced. Not only has Rosalie been the key to maintaining balance despite the demands of running C6.ca, she is also the inspiration behind the Kasel (Rosalie’s maiden name) line of products produced and manufactured and sold under the C6 umbrella.
The Recipe for Success
Education and Athletics have been at the core of who Didi and Eric are, with both brothers alumni of Brock University and athletes, each in their own right. You can only achieve the comebacks and rewards that Didi and Eric have realized through extreme dedication, perseverance and passion.
An avid rugby and tennis player in his day, Eric earned his BBA in 2007. While he notes he’s not an athlete anymore, Eric feels that:
“...athleticism was and is important to me. I strongly believe that participating in sports...helped me with self discipline. I still use the lessons I learned back in high school when it comes to leadership and being part of a team”.
Didi graduated with a BKin in 2014 as an award winning basketball star with the Brock Badgers. He became captain in only his second year on the team; a result of having an incredible ability to lead - not always with words, but with how he conducts himself and his work ethic. The skills that make Didi a great basketball player are the same skills that make him a great leader at C6.
As C6.ca continues to grow and expand the business, Eric and Didi naturally leverage the knowledge they’ve learned at home, in school and from their successful business lives. As they add and strengthen the C6.ca team roster, they layer the leadership qualities, dedication and strategic abilities they earned as athletes to bring on only those team members that share the same values and customer-centric approach to business.
When asked about how C6.ca employees are unique, Didi shared this:
“Our team is dedicated and invested in the success and growth of C6.ca. They are empowered to make mistakes, decisions, collaborate & share ideas. Each team member is always looking for new ways to improve and innovate. They are respectful with their communication and of each other and are positive in how they approach problems together. They are all fun to work with and rely on each other and each team member's skills to contribute to the (greater) team’s success.”
Eric adds that “C6.ca employees are hard working and self starters. What I mean by that is that I feel like the C6 team is entrepreneurial. Everyone takes initiative. C6 is the environment where ideas are welcomed and can be tried without fear of failure.”
Supporting Those that Support Others
We have all been blessed in life to have others step in to help us in our time of need at some point or another. Whether it be a medical injury, struggling with depression, making ends meet or even sorting through the challenges of work/life balance, it is always a welcome relief if and when someone can help you out when your resources are exhausted.
This is why we feel so blessed to be in a position to support those who support others in their time of need.
C6.ca has made a Corporate commitment to donate 10% of our profits to fund the next breakthrough in Spinal Cord Research, a cause near and dear to our hearts.
We also have a soft spot for local organizations on a mission to support community members that are in need. We give back to those that support others with donations of supplies and/or providing finances to help those in the Niagara region that are there for the people that need it the most.