Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Don't throw it away...keep it in play." Oilers Update Speaks with Integral Hockey

Integral Hockey Stick Repair Inc. says, “Don’t throw it away.  Keep it in play.” 

Before tossing that $250 broken hockey stick into the dump, or banging it into the soil next to your tomato plants, Canadian company Integral Hockey Inc. wants to repair your stick, and keep you playing. 

Integral Hockey was founded by Randy Langille, who developed a way to fix carbon fiber sticks using actual aerospace technology.  While the technology may seem out-of-this-world, the process is quick, affordable, and the near-seamless repair will look and feel like a brand new stick.  Moreover, the company prides itself with their involvement with KidSport Canada, who, like Integral Hockey, is committed to see children play Canada’s game.

Since their inception less than a year and a half ago, Integral Hockey has proudly set-up 9 repair locations across Canada, and now hopes to expand globally, via franchising. 

Recently, I had the chance to speak with Gord Piercey, who is the National Sales Manager of Integral Hockey Inc.  Mr. Piercey took some time away from his busy schedule to give me some insight about one of Canada’s newest and hottest, hockey companies.

Sept 3rd 2011

Antony: How long has this company been around for?

Gord Piercey: The company has been around for approximately a year and a half.  The development of the process has been around for a bit longer than that, around two years full on with the development of the repair process.

Antony:  I have seen other technologies out there, but this technology seems to be better.  What makes it so much better?

Gord:  First of all, the result is a much better feel for the players, and we add very little weight to the stick. I did an experiment the other day where I took a stick before it was repaired. I weighed it prior to repairing it, repaired it, and found we had only added, in this instance, 4 grams of weight, whereas I do have a repair from another company where we took a 12 inch section of stick and weighed it, finding it was significantly heavier, 48 grams more than an unrepaired 12 inch section of stick.

Antony:  That is a real change; I would be able to feel that.

Gord:  Yes. What we do when we repair the stick, is we don’t change the dynamics from a new stick, what I mean by that, is that the stick feels and performs the same as a new stick because we don’t compromise the weight, the balance, or the kick point, or anything like that, all the good stuff that you buy a new stick for is still retained in our repairs.

Antony:   I can relate, because I have played with sticks that have been fixed, and some of these technologies have to include a plug, like a piece of wood, and they feel unbalanced.

Gord:  Our competitors use, what you’re referring to, as the plug system; it’s actually what they call a foam core that is wrapped in carbon fiber.  So, they actually pour liquid resin down the shaft to fill up the void, and it’s a five inch space in there that is filled with foam carbon fiber and pure resin, which is where the weight factor comes in.  Ours is a system that was developed applying actual aerospace technology, and we’ve adapted that system to repair hockey sticks.  So the end result is a hollow carbon repair which weighs very, very little and allows for the stick to flex, just like a brand new one. 

Antony:  To me that’s quite amazing. I’ve seen some of these sticks, and we’ve all seen it in the NHL - these players are on the ice, where one moment the puck is on the stick, and all of a sudden, the stick is in two, and a lot of them seem to be un-repairable, but you’re telling me that with this technology, it’s like the stick is brand new.

Gord:  Just like a brand new stick. Being a new company, we’ve done a lot of research and development, and we’ve had a lot of sounding boards, or test facilities you might say, with Junior players, and we actually now have generated interest from the playing level at the NHL, where we have players in Calgary at a mini-camp using our products and testing them.

Antony:  I would like to know some of these players who are interested in your technology.

Gord:  It started out working with an Alberta Junior team, the Olds Grizzlies. They’re a Junior A club in the AJHL.  We’ve been talking to them for over a year, and they were one of our test subjects. We gave them a bunch of sticks about a year and half ago, and we asked them to use them.

When we got to the point where we’d honed our skill, where our sticks were being played at a higher level than we ever expected them to be, the club started looking into franchise opportunities.

On the board of directors was a gentleman who’s friend, Jason Jaffray* (recently signed with the Winnipeg Jets), was looking for a business to get into with his own business partner. They requested some sticks to test, so we sent them one stick, and he (Jaffray) said, “this is great, and it feels very, very good, but the real test is if you repair my own stick.”  So, he sent us 3 of his sticks which we repaired and sent back, and I believe they are on the ice now since he should’ve received them earlier this week. I haven’t heard the feed-back yet, but I will very soon.

Antony:  I hope we can discuss that when it happens.

Gord:  Yes, that is very exciting for us because he was skating with a bunch of other NHL’er’s in a mini-camp with other high-end Junior hockey players.

Antony:  If I were to break a stick, how much would it cost to repair?

Gord:  It’s up to the individual franchise to post their pricing, but we started off with a $45 repair.  We found that $45 was a good way to get our product out there at the beginning, but most of our franchises are charging about $50 (plus tax), per repair.

At the NHL level, we will NOT be repairing player’s sticks.  We’re in the process of getting the word out right now so that people know that when they break a stick, there’s a good way of repairing it. What we’re saying is, ‘Mr. Smith, go ahead and buy your kid that 250 dollar stick, because if it does break, there’s a viable way of repairing it, so you can put your kids into better sticks, and have a way to repair them if they do break.’

Antony:  Is it possible to fix the blade as well?

Gord:  There are blade repairs available, but we only get into minor blade repairs.  The reason why we don’t get right into blade repairs is because at this point, a process hasn’t been developed to really do a good job on them.  There is more involved to manufacturing a blade than there is to manufacturing a shaft, and there’s all kinds of foam and everything else in there with layers of this and that; and when they do break (if you were to snap off a blade) you can never get that same feeling back, so basically, we really don’t want to have unhappy customers.  What we do is what we do best, and that’s shaft repairs; and if somebody breaks a blade, we do have a way to repair it using a one-piece stick.  We can actually put a new blade into a one-piece stick.  What we do is we have a customer pick out a blade that he likes, and bring it to us and we do the repair for them.

Antony:  If someone wanted to be a part of this franchise, who can they contact?

Gord:  They can go to our website, go to our Contact page, and fill out the information, and it’s important to fill it out completely.  We get a lot of people who fill out their email address, but we would really appreciate a number as well, that way we can actually talk to people.  The reason why we like to talk to the person inquiring is because stick repairs have not had the best reputation, and we are truly different than what people have seen out there. We really like to discuss and let people know exactly what is it we do, and how we can help people.  We also have the KidSport program that’s set up with teams.

Antony:  Do you also offer training?

Gord:  Yes, we absolutely do offer it - it’s included in the franchise package. We offer two days of training. It’s basically a turn-key operation. For most people that have been trained by us so far, it’s been more or less a day, day and a half.   The reason why we offer two days is because it really is a two-part process.  The first part is actually preparing a stick, assessing the damage, then repairing the stick. The next day would be how we prep the stick, ready to be returned to the customer.  It really is a turn-key operation - when we leave, they’re comfortable with how to do the repair.  And if they have any questions, we are very easily reachable.

Antony:  How much is it to own a franchise?

Gord:  Every area is different.  We use a guideline of 180 dollars per thousand people, so the ideal franchise size would be around 100,000 people, and the franchise fees would be around 18,000 dollars.  Now, we do a little more in-depth research since some of the areas are very spread out, and some areas are where the population doesn’t include a high density of hockey players, or facilities. We do some demographics and research of the area, and we use a guideline of 18,000 per 100,000 thousand population.   

Plus, we have a start-up package priced at approximately $3,400…which is all the tooling you need to do the repairs, including 24 repair kits, then, we go from there.

Antony:  I appreciate your time and thanks again.  I will do a follow up with you about Jason Jaffray.

Gord:  Great, and thank you, it was my pleasure – we’ll talk with you soon.

Hours after the phone interview, I managed to meet with Gord Piercey in person, and he was kind enough to allow me to try out a couple of his repaired sticks.  In light of his generous donation, I will record an on-ice video of myself firing some pucks, and give you my perspective on my findings.  However, I have a feeling that I will be very impressed with the craftsmanship of the repaired stick.

*A week after the interview, I received an e-mail from Integral Hockey, announcing that NHL player Jason Jaffray, is “giving Integral Hockey his full endorsement, since playing his own repaired stick, with excellent results. "

Written by Antony S. Scandale © 

Read the review and watch the  video blog here!
Taylor Hall Jordan Eberle Magnus Paajarvi Ryan Nugent-Hopkins NHL Anton Lander Linus Omark Ryan Smyth Shawn Horcoff

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