So what do you want to know?
If you just want to know about our mission for Brick House, skip to the end of the page, if you want to know how we got here keep reading.
My name is Chris, I’m getting to the age I should be thinking about slowing down. But I have a “forget that” attitude. (forget is not the word I wanted to use but my wife said I couldn’t use the other one).
Throughout the years I have done a lot of great stuff but always been the happiest when creating, developing, exercising the old brain to solve problems while working with my hands.
I started in the trades as a motorcycle mechanic and put myself through college working on my trade license. After I was licensed and finished college I spent some time in the bike business but ended up getting into marine repair where I fell in love with composites. I know, weird twist, but when I got into marine repair, there was a new challenge and opportunity in working with composites. Not only did I love it but I became really quite good at it. (What does this have to do with Pickleball….wait).
Ok so fast forward a bit, past a bunch of unfortunate events to mid 90’s. Having to rebuild I took a job in sales with a company that distributed solar energy products. I loved it. It wasn’t just sales it was working with customers to help them design systems for off grid applications. Unfortunately solar energy became a commodity business and price was everything. Boring, for a guy that was used to value add selling.
“spending my days trying to build value in below average products”
Bouncing around in sales for almost 20 years it just wasn’t fun anymore. There was no real purpose to why I was selling. Don’t get me wrong I had some great years, and I really enjoyed a lot of my customers. But in reflecting, what was I really accomplishing? I was spending my days trying to build value in a lot of below average products, in saturated markets, selling to customers who didn’t need the stuff in the first place.
“my moto wasn’t always appreciated in sales meetings”
I always put my relationship with my customers first. Doing so probably cost me a few gigs along the way. My motto, “never let someone keep you from being true to yourself or doing what’s right for the customer.” (just a heads up to anyone new to sales. Sometimes that “moto” isn’t always appreciated at sales meetings or shared by some of my past employers. Who knew.)
Fast forward a bit more to 2020 and like many I found myself having to rebuild once again as a result of COVID downsizing.
A couple of months of isolation, and lots of time to reevaluate what is important lead to the development of Brick House Paddles. But how you ask, read on.
“getting me to walk was described as like trying to walk a cat”
As isolation restrictions began to lift I was made aware that we, more I, needed to lose some weight. To get some exercise my wife and I started walking around town, doing the same route day in day out.
I am not a big fan of walking simply for the sake of walking. Getting me to walk is described as “like trying to walk a cat”. Oh you can do it but the cat is not going to be happy about it and you’ll probably end up dragging it for a good part of the way.
“my nickname was getting to be F B”
Something had to change. Friends had been bugging us for years to try pickleball and we finally gave into peer pressure. We hadn’t played a lot of sports in a long time but one game and it was all over. Both my wife and I were hooked……..sore……. but definitely hooked.
Not only were we having a blast and meeting some great new people but pickleball is/was instrumental in my losing weight and getting back into shape after too many years of business lunches and corporate over eating.
I was getting the nickname F B.(i couldn’t use that phrase either…. I am now back to honey…….. most of the time). So after a couple of weeks of borrowing paddles, we got serious and bought our own.
“I said to my wife, I am going to make paddles”
A few things bugged me about buying a paddle. Lots of paddles out there, big names, small names, fancy graphics I didn’t really relate to, all kind of the same size, and they all looked pretty much like they came out of the same factory.
Doing some research, yup, there are a couple of overseas factories that private label probably 80% of the paddles you see on line and in stores. Even a lot of what was labeled made in Canada/USA seemed to be off shore sourced.
“She said “WOW what a great idea”.(ok, not right away but she’s coming around)”
That bothered me. I can’t tell you why it bothered me more than all the other stuff I buy but it did. Finally I said to my wife, I am going to make paddles, I’m going to make better paddles, I am going to make them unique and I’m going to make them here. She said “WOW what a great idea”.(ok, not right away but she’s coming around)
“dozens more prototypes, hundreds of hours testing“
So we started talking with other players about likes and dislikes around their paddles, we tried all kinds and then I started building prototypes. You know what, the prototypes looked a lot like every other paddle out there. Then I thought, what about wood.(did I mention I owned a wood finishing business at one point?) So then came the challenge of building a modern paddle that incorporated a wood face.
Not as easy as it sounds. Dozens more prototypes, hundreds of hours of testing and finally a paddle that was durable, looked great and played amazing. Above all people using our prototypes loved them. ( I’m still missing a few demo paddles) The best part was we could do all of it right here in town, in Ontario, in Canada.
The mission for Brick House Paddles.
- Build a unique, great playing, high quality paddle that offers something different and personal for our customers.
- Keep it local. Respect and support the small and local businesses that support us. (Including suppliers, coffee shops, building centres, printers, delis, landlords, butchers, grocers, liquor stores, dentists, car repair shops, florists, travel agents, insurance agents, and the dozens of other folks in our community that need to keep it local too).
- Focus on the social aspect and health benefits of pickleball to attract new recreational players and promote a healthier lifestyle.
- Develop a regional manufacturing process that is deployable to other communities.
- Focus on fun and always having time for a game.
- Build the Canadian PickleBall Hall of Fame in St Marys, Ontario right next to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.(Could happen)
Brick House Paddles isn’t displacing big overseas manufacturers or large corporations anytime soon but we are having fun producing great paddles while supporting communities one paddle at a time.
If you got this far, sorry for the long story but you did hit the “Long story” link. Now you know a bit more.
Hope to see you on the courts, cheers