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Hack to Hack to GROWTH award winner

December 12, 2008

Hack to Hack Solutions of Thorhild is being honored with a GROWTH Alberta Small Business Award. “I was extremely happy — surprised, very humbled and honored,” said owner Kevin Grumetza, “They wouldn’t tell me who nominated me, but whoever it was, a
sincere thankyou.”
Grumetza installed his first Hack to Hack curling rink liner, dubbed the Easy Sheet, in 2005 and that year sold about 20in Alberta. The second year sales more than tripled, and the following year that trend continued, with liners going to Italy and Switzerland. This year sales across Canada are continuing and increasing orders are coming from Europe. Grumetza is breaking into the United States market through United States players who curled on the rink liners in Italy.
Last year Redwater had the pilot installation of the Goal to Goal hockey rink liner. This year the hockey Easy Sheets are on the market.
The big selling features for the curling and the hockey rink liners are time and energy savings combined with eliminating paints from draining into the waste water systems or onto the ground.
“The timing is bang-on perfect,”Grumetza said. More and more people are trying to ‘go green’ plus grants and sponsorships are available for environmentally friendly projects such as the rink liners.
Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, bought the rink liners to cut down on labor and keep paints from polluting the environment.Since they have natural ice, saving money by reducing the time the ice plant runs before the ice is ready to use was not an issue.
That, however, is a major concern at most rinks. “On average, clubs took 14 to 21 days to put ice in,” said Grumetza. “With these sheets you need a day or so to chill the floor, the sheets go in and the next day you’re curling. That’s a huge saving.” If the ice plant fails during the middle of the season, there is no concern about paint migrating when the icesoftens or melts. The linerstays in place while the equipment is fixed, the ice refreezes and play goes on.
The Goal to Goal Easy Sheets operate the same way. When the first one was installed last fall it took three people three hours to have the rink ready to flood. “They were playing hockey the next
day,” said Grumetza. “This winter Goal to Goal goes on the market, and I’m hoping it takes off like Hack to Hack.”
Grumetza has lived in the Thorhild area for 27 years. He is in his 12th year as a county councillor.
The Hack to Hack Solutions rink liners were borne out of the countless volunteer hours he spent installing ice in the local rink. Once he had the legal process completed, it took five months from the prototype to the first Easy Sheet. “It was go forward hard, otherwise we’d lose a full year,” Grumetza said. “If you believe in an idea strongly enough, make it work. Get ‘er done.”
The rink liners are printed at Cowan Graphic Inc & AI Digital in Edmonton. “Blaine MacMillan has been absolutely amazing,” Grumetza said. “His staff are great to work with.” Each Easy Sheet is
inspected on the 70’ long, custom built trim table before being rolled for shipment.
Grumetza does the sales, product delivery and installation. “I’m just having so much fun meeting
these people and going to different places,” he said. “It really is truly overwhelming when you walk onto the ice to curl and see the name there.”
Curling is his number one hobby. He sold his cows, golfs in summer and hunts in the fall — and in winter he belongs to a couple of curling clubs. “I’d curl every day if I could,” he said.

Clyde curlers take to the ice on Wednesday

Christopher Cain        
News Staff
When the Clyde Curling Club launches their season Wednesday night, members will undoubtedly notice a slightly different sheen emanating from the pebbled ice.
The club has installed three brand new computer-generated roll-on sheets that were designed by a Thorhild-based company known as Hack to Hack Solution Inc.
Jim Rau, the club’s icemaker, was busy all last week flooding the rink and getting the ice ready for competition. He says the new sheets, each worth $4,000, were incredibly easy to install, about an hour and a half for all three, and will save the club hours and hours of tedious painting over the coming years.
“In contrast, I did Westlock’s ice last year, and the painting that they do there is probably a day or two preparation and then a full day to do the painting and another day to clean up.”
Each spring, when curling season is over, the paint is removed and washed down the drain. The following fall, the process is repeated. Not only is this costly — Rau says Westlock’s four sheets cost between $600 and $700 — it is wasteful in both time and money.
“Each year, you have to cough up the money again,” Rau says. “It never stops.” Well, now it has.
Hack to Hack president Kevin Grumetza has told Rau that the sheets should last between five and seven years. “It’s all iffy, because it’s something new,” Rau says. “The last plastic sheets we had, they estimated the same thing, and we had them for 17 years. “If you clean them up nice every spring and wash them off and let them dry, I can’t see them not lasting a good ten years. The only thing that could go wrong is all the lettering and the lines that are painted on. Perhaps after, pick a number (of years), they might start to flake off.”
The sheets are also energy efficient. “Rather than turn your plant on two weeks before, you can throw a small splash down and get the ice half level before the sheets go on, and then you just add water.” The sheets are one piece and run the entire length of the surface, hence the name, “Hack to Hack.” Each comes emblazoned with the company logo or names of those who laid out the cash for sponsorship. “It’s not like a lay-over,” Rau says. “It’s permanent. As long as the sheet lasts, their name is on there.” One sheet was sponsored by Danny Shank Holdings (Dan and Bev Shank); another by Clyde-based Westlock Sand and Gravel (Richard and Rose Sabourin, Mark and Cindy Sabourin). The third sheet was a collaborative effort by a group of Clyde businesses: KBJ Round Farms (Barry and Dette Round, Jim and Rita Round), M&L Farms (Mel and Louise Nyal), Centennial Developments (Dennis and Lorraine Nyal), and PD Farms (Doug and Florence Nyal).

Curling rink liner hits mark - Western Producer
Camrose bureau

REDWATER, Alta. - After spending hours painting, repainting, flooding and reflooding the sheets of ice at his local curling club, Kevin Grumetza thought there had to be a better way to make a curling rink.

It was during the middle of the night after a late night painting session that the part-time farmer came up with his idea of the printed rink liner.

"I thought this isn't fun any more. There has to be a better way," said Grumetza of Thorhild, Alta.

Grumetza first envisioned a gigantic roll of paper towel. He knew it had to be white and knew it needed to be made of mesh to let the water and cold through.

Two years later, almost 100 curling rinks and one hockey arena from Alberta to Italy have thrown away their paintbrush and replaced it with his mesh rink liner.

Dave McRae, project manager for the town of Redwater, estimates they will save 60 percent of the usual cost of ice installation by using rink liners in both the arena and curling rink at the town's Provident Place multi-use facility.

Instead of spending two weeks painting lines on the three sheets of ice at Redwater's curling rink, the reusable rink liners were rolled out in 11 minutes. By the next day, curlers were on the ice.

It took seven hours to place, cut and tack the 11 pieces of rink liner in the 1,530 sq. metre hockey arena and three days to make the ice instead of the usual two weeks.

"Right now I'm very, very happy, not only with the installation price but the ongoing product capability," said McRae.

The rink liner looks like a large sheet of Aida cloth, the same open-weave material used in cross stitching or hooked rugs. Grumetza said one of the biggest challenges was convincing a printer to take on the monumental task of printing the long mesh sheets.

Now that it's developed, the biggest comment is why anyone didn't think of this before, said Grumetza, who operates Hack-to-Hack Solutions and Goal-to-Goal Solutions. He already has orders for seven hockey rinks and 200 curling rinks next year.

One of the biggest benefits Grumetza sees is not having tonnes of paint, traditionally mixed into the ice, washed down the drain each spring or pushed out onto the parking lot and allowed to seep into the sewer system.

"It's so much more environmentally friendly," he said.

At the end of the season, the ice plant is turned off, the ice melts and the cloth is dried and rolled up until the next winter.

"It's a very versatile product," said McRae who has been contracted by several surrounding municipalities and small towns to analyze the liners and report back.

McRae said the mesh lets the cold through easier so that the temperature of the ice making equipment doesn't need to be as cold and a solid ice surface can be made with less water.

"The ice seems to get very hard, very fast," said McRae.

For curlers and hockey players, it's a colder, keener ice, said Grumetza.

McRae said initially there was skepticism by skaters and hockey players who needed to be convinced the ice surface would be the same. The skaters would walk out on the ice like Bambi testing the ice.

"We've had no complaints from figure skaters or hockey players."

This spring McRae wants to simulate a compressor failure, a common occurrence with older ice making plants. When the ice plant quits, usually the mixture of ice and paint breaks apart in clumps and the arena manager has no choice but to remove the ice and start again.

With the rink liner, the ice is simply refrozen without having to start the process from scratch, said Grumetza, who knows from experience after the Waskatenau ice plant quit twice last season.

The material seems to be durable. Last season, during the first year of use, vandals broke into the Redwater arena and poured gasoline and sprayed fire extinguishers on the ice. Neither products or the iron filings and concrete dust in the air from the ongoing construction seemed to affect the liners.

"It's very durable and very, very dependable," said McRae.

Grumetza is beginning to print six sheets for an oilman's bonspiel at Rocky Mountain House, Alta. With more than 100 teams entered there aren't enough regular curling sheets in town. Using rink liners, an extra six curling sheets will be made on the hockey rink at the end of the hockey season.

Each $4,000 liner at the bonspiel has already been bought and paid for by advertisers. Advertising logos are either printed directly on the mesh or laid over top of the mesh or melted in the ice with overlay.

Two years ago the NHL moved the goal line away from the boards and the blue line towards centre. If more changes are made, adjustments are easily made with a new mesh overlay, said Grumetza.

Don Lakusta of Opal, just north of Redwater, is one of the first people to use the curling rink liners on his backyard rink on his elk and bison farm.

For 11 years, Lakusta faithfully painted curling circles on his backyard rink for the annual New Year's Eve bonspiel. He now has two custom-made rink liners on the combination hockey and curling rink.

"It certainly makes life a lot easier," said Lakusta.

In the spring when the sun hits the ice, the coloured circles used to bleed and clump in odd shapes, making hitting the button more challenging.

Lakusta said it's still a lot of work flooding the ice and keeping it clear of snow, but when his family comes for its annual Christmas Eve hockey tournament or neighbours play till 3 a.m. at the New Year's Eve bonspiel, it's worthwhile

"When the kids are out there playing, that's what it's all about

Locally designed curling rink liners a hit in Italy

The locally designed easy-sheet curling rink liners are now in Europe. Hack-to-Hack
Solutions Inc. president Kevin Grumetza of Thorhild oversaw the installation of two of the liners in Cortina, Italy, in June. He left for Italy June 14. The rink liners were shipped a week earlier.
“Because the time lines were tight I flew them over,” said Grumetza. “Monday (June 18) they turned the (ice) plant on and we were ready to curl in a day.”
In Cortina to participate in the ice making were president of the Cortina Curling Association Antonio Menardi and ice makers Peter Luck from Switzerland and Jergen Larsen from Denmark.
“These guys are the number one and number two ice makers in Europe,” Grumetza said. “They were probably just as excited as I was to see them (the rink liners) unrolled. When we unrolled
the sheets and they looked at them, theyasked ‘Where the hell have I been all these years?’”
Not only were the Europeans impressed with the ease and quickness of the installation, they were happy to not have to buy paint.“They really liked it from the environmental side,” explained Grumetza. “They’re not having to wash paint down the drain every year.”
The ice was ready for the 42nd International Summer Spiel. Twentyeight teams from ten countries participated.
“The response from all the teams was...I think they were amazed, very impressed by the way the ice looked. The colors were so clear and sharp.” Grumetza curled with Menardi’s team, finishing seventh in the bonspiel.

A Junior Curling clinic was held at the rink the following week. Grumetza travelled with his wife and daughter. They were hosted throughout their stay in Europe. “The curling family is tight knit,” said Grumetza. “They treated us absolutely first class. It was just amazing.” He is now responding to inquiries regarding the rink liners from other parties.