by Scott Stanfield (reprinted by permission)
For the past 25 years, Mark Poruchny and his buddies have been playing floor hockey at school gymnasiums.
Essentially, the games have provided an enjoyable form of exercise for the 45-year-old Prince George man, but the twice-weekly gatherings have also planted a seed towards a business idea which, as of this year, has taken off.
The product is felt hockey pucks.
Poruchny and his group have always played indoor hockey with felt pucks, the edges of which tended to balloon out after a certain amount of time. He came to realize there might be a niche for a more durable type of puck which would continue to slide well after prolonged use.
"For years, I'm trying to figure out how to get the felt to slide on the floor and the leather on that outer edge, and of course there was nothing to sew to," Poruchny said.
He figured glue might be the solution; the problem, however, was figuring out which adhesive to use. He started with Crazy Glue, and then tried white carpenter's glue and anything else he could think of.
"You name it, I tried it," he said.
At first, he wasn't having much luck because every type of glue would harden and become brittle, and the puck would crack on impact. (The glue line of his first model of felt pucks would also leave a red mark on the body.)
The solution would be something flexible and non-hardening. Then one day, while laminating his counter tops, Poruchny found his answer in a pint of contact cement, which, as it turns out, has worked, both in terms of bonding the puck together and acting as a balanced weight.
"I thought, 'Hey, this could be the one," he said. "It's so simple. From that standpoint, the rest is history."
And voila - Precision Pucks was born.
"No one's ever glued pucks together," said Poruchny, whose has patents pending in both Canada and the U.S. "I'm the first guy in the world to successfully weigh a felt hockey puck safely. That's why I'm able to get a patent. Felt pucks have been around for a long time. This is not an innovation, it's an invention, and it's only an invention because, quite simply, the glue's the weight. That's what I invented. I've got something that nobody else has thought of."
He hopes to soon offer a lighter ringette puck as well.
"The Stallion is to me like the Mustang is to Ford," said Poruchny, whose wife Leah quit her job to help run the business. "It's my bread and butter puck. Anybody can use it, anybody can drive it."
His company debuted in the spring at the PG Home Show, where the public was able to try out the 'Pucks that work but don't hurt.'
Poruchny labels one of his felt pucks, which are encased by cowhide leather. His garage is equipped with a specially-manufactured cookie-cutting style of press to cut puck shapes out of the felt. His pucks are finding their way to various corners of the world, largely used by schools and recreation centres.
The business has also been well received on the Internet. Poruchny initiated a Web site in May and, over the course of the last two months, Precision Pucks has generated thousands of hits on both Yahoo and Google search engine sites.
In Prince George, the puck is available at Puckmasters, 5 Seasons Sports, the Roll-A-Dome and Esporta Prince George. Precision Pucks have also found their way into schools, recreation centres, Indian bands, the military, youth detention centres and various floor hockey leagues around North America and other corners of the world. So far, his biggest customer is the public school system.
"I have pucks from Bolivia to Boston," Poruchny said. "We have filed internationally now. We're going worldwide with this. I'm growing so quickly, there's no end in sight."
For more information, check www.precisionpucks.com or phone 1-250-613-PUCK (7825).