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Hockey sticks previously left for dead find new life

Broken hockey sticks used to get tossed away without a second thought. That mentality has changed with the times as much as the old wooden hockey sticks are a thing of the past.

Composite hockey sticks can now be easily repaired at a considerable saving to the environment and the pocketbooks of parents footing the bill for their kids in hockey and junior hockey teams concerned about soaring replacement costs. A hollow carbon fibre repair ensures there's no compromise in the stick's weight or flex.

"It's a brand new method of doing so,'' said Gord Piercey of G&R Sport Services in Duncan, a franchisee for Integral Hockey Stick Repair Inc.

Integral's motto is "Don't Throw It Away, Keep It In Play.''

And there are many advantages to doing so.

"I'm not an over-the-top environmentalist,'' said Piercey, 51.

"Our No. 1 thing is to help people — help reduce the cost of hockey.''

No broken hockey stick that's repairable will be refused.

Piercey said any hockey player can bring a stick to him and typical repairs using the Integral Hockey system will cost $50. Arrangements can be made by contacting him on his cell at 250-710-5895 or by email at gord@integralhockey.com.

Most quality composite sticks retail for more than $200 and the brand names will run more than $300 apiece, according to Piercey.

Keeping sticks out of the landfill and the recycling aspect is also a priority.

"The recycling part of it is simple,'' he said. "If a stick is broken in two, there's no reason to throw it away.''

Wooden sticks tossed in the landfill eventually break down over time. But the same can't be said for the materials used to produce sticks today and, in fact, not all sticks are even repairable.

Integral's Randy Langille, a Port Alberni business owner who developed the repair system, has thought about that, too. Sticks that can't be repaired are set aside by Piercey and will eventually be stored with others in a warehouse in Port Alberni awaiting technology improvements for proper disposal.

"We can send them to a recycling facility where they'll be ground up and used for after-market auto parts,'' said Piercey.

Such facilities only exist in London, England as far as Piercey knows.

"We're hoping something is going to be done about it in North America fairly soon,'' he said.

Another project in the works is called the Twigz campaign.

"We'll plant trees for every transaction we do and help offset the carbon footprint,'' said Piercey.

How exactly that will work for a certain number of transactions is still being determined. Piercey has been talking to different tree-planting companies in B.C. and other parts of Canada.

"We're excited about that,'' he said. "We're going to try to get other companies to do it, too.

"We're set up to put money aside in a separate account for that reason.''

There are currently 24 Integral franchises from St. John's, Newfoundland to Port Alberni, including Piercey's with Roger Pettersson that became G&R Sport Services in March 2011.

"Everything happened in a year and a half,'' said Piercey.

"Stick repairs is how we started out, for sure. Once you understand the idea behind the business, it's more of a pleasure to do than anything else.''

G&R has also become a supplier for Fischer composite sticks.

Making inroads with the junior hockey teams from the B.C. Junior Hockey League Cowichan Valley Capitals and the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League Kerry Park Islanders to the BCHL Nanaimo Clippers and VIJHL Campbell River Storm has been a priority.

Piercey has different agreements with the clubs. In the Caps' case, he purchases repairable sticks for $10 apiece. The team then uses the extra money to buy tape, laces or other incidentals to save costs while Piercey fixes the sticks and offers them back to the public at a reduced rate than new ones.

So it's a win-win for everybody.

"Now we can have all these kids in the valley skating around with all these high-end hockey sticks for under $100,'' Piercey said.

He's also made arrangements with teams to take donated broken sticks for charities like KidSport Cowichan.

"I'll put the time into it and we can raffle them off,'' Piercey said.

Long affiliation with hockey leads to franchise opportunity

Gord Piercey was born in hockey-mad Montreal but moved to hockey championship-depraved Toronto at a young age and spent about 38 years there. He's always had an affiliation with hockey as a player and a fan while employed as a welder and in sales of welding equipment and supplies.

Piercey relocated to Calgary for five years where he met and married Maricel.

"We came out here for a honeymoon and three months to the day we were here,'' said Piercey.

He checked out various job opportunities in the valley and continued in welding-related work for a while before crossing paths with Langille after a friend did some website design for Integral Hockey.

That eventually led to commitments for both Maricel and Gord after meeting with Randy Langille.

"When we finished the meeting, he said he wanted Maricel to do the marketing and he asked me if I wanted to do the sales for him,'' said Piercey.

"When I met Randy, he was still working on the franchise agreements for B.C.''

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