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December 12, 2008

Hack to Hack Solutions of Thorhild is being honoured with a GROWTH Alberta Small Business Award.  “I was extremely happy– surprised, very humbled, and honoured,” said owner Kevin Grumetza,  “they wouldn’t tell me who nominated me, but whoever it was, a sincere thank you.”

Grumetza installed his first Hack to Hack curling rink liner, dubbed the Easy Sheet, in 2005 and that year sold about 20 in 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 the United States players who curled on the rink liners in Italy.

Last year, Red Water 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, Nunavut, bought the rink liners to cut down on labor and keep paints from polluting the environment.  Since they have natural ice, saving money from 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,” commented 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 ice softens or melts.  The liner stays 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 to 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 twelfth 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 & Al Digital in Edmonton.  “Blaine MacMillan has been absolutely amazing,” Grumetza stated. “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 Grumetza’s number one hobby.  He sold his cows, golfs in the 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.

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