Warren Nye next to his hockey stick repair equipment May 2, 2012. The Lucan resident and general manager of the junior B St. Mary’s Lincolns is the newest franchisee for Integral Hockey, a stick repair company based in British Columbia that offers a cost effective and environmentally friendly repair procedure for broken sticks.
By Chris Montanini, Londoner
Photo by QMI Agency
May 11th, 2012
There are few athletes more finicky about the tool of their trade than hockey players.
Crazy sports superstitions aside, a hockey stick comes with more options than casual observers of the sport might realize.
Stiff or flexible? Heel curve or toe curve? A fancy spiral tape job for extra grip, or just traditional black around the blade with a knob at the top?
As the general manager of the junior B St. Mary’s Lincolns, Lucan resident Warren Nye has likely seen all the combinations. He’s also seen how much money teams and players can shell out for the expensive carbon fibre sticks. Retailing at around $250 to $300 a piece, Nye said competitive teams lucky enough to have a budget for sticks can spend up to $10,000 to $15,000 per season.
So when he discovered a state-of-the-art way to repair broken sticks and return them to their owner in a condition that could please even the pickiest of players, he decided to bring the technology to London.
Nye recently became a franchisee of Integral Hockey, a BC-based company that has borrowed technology from the aerospace industry and put it to use repairing the increasingly fragile, non-biodegradable carbon fibre hockey stick.
Nye said it keeps them out of landfills and can save players more trips to sports stores and ATMs.
“The flexibility of the stick, once it’s fixed, doesn’t change,” Nye said. “The weight of the stick, and that’s where players feel the difference, changes only a fraction of ounces. That’s what intrigued me about the company because I played hockey myself. (The hockey stick) is a tool of the trade. It’s got to be right and everybody is different.”
Nye said he’ll be offering the service for around $50 per stick. The process is quick, he explained, about 12 minutes to put the stick back together and around 72 hours until the glue is dry.
He said the process was like “fixing a tire from the inside,” but more details about how the repair is done are still under wraps while Integral waits for the patents that will give them total ownership of their system.
“I would describe it as basically providing a hollow carbon fibre repair inside the shaft and adding very little weight (and) stiffness (while) keeping stick dynamics in place,” said Randy Langville, Integral’s CEO.
About 20 years ago, Langville was building aircraft parts when his brother-in-law came to him with an early carbon fibre stick he broke just outside of the warranty period. Since then he’s been trying to create a cost- and time-effective way to repair sticks without compromising their features.
“Up until about three years ago, it wasn’t something I was advertising because it took me about two hours to repair a shaft,” he said. Now Langville, based in Port Alberni, B.C., thinks he’s figured it out and with patents pending in 137 countries, endorsement from Hockey Canada, and numerous happy clients, he’s hoping to have increased Integral’s locations from 20 to 50 by next year.
“With a 30 day warranty on a $300 price tag, I just find that unacceptable,” Langville said. “One of the things we’re proud of most is the fact we’re recycling (and) we’re saving parents, teams and individuals an incredible amount of money.”
Nye is hoping his foray into the business will lead to him offering other services, like skate sharpening, to players in the area.
“What I’m gearing towards is older kids from minor midget, midget, to junior hockey,” he said. “I know what a budget for stick allowance can be in junior, so we’re hoping we can maybe cut that down a little bit.”