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Iconic Cambridge hockey stick manufacturer moves to new Brantford factory

The new location will bring a new composite hockey line, more jobs, changes to environmental standards
hockey stick and puck stock photo
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It's a new chapter for a hockey stick manufacturer that's called Hespeler home since 1905. 

Roustan Hockey, which was formally Heritage Wood Specialties, Nike Bauer and Cooper will be moving to a new location at Spalding Drive in Brantford.

W. Graeme Roustan, owner and CEO of Roustan Hockey called the factory "the birthplace of the Canadian hockey stick manufacturing businesses" and said that it propelled the development of hockey stick manufacturing around the world.

"The building has become an icon of hockey. People from around the world stopped by and visited the factory. Wayne Gretzky's father, Walter Gretzky would often come to the factory over the last number of decades--50, 60 years," he said. 

"He would walk through the factory and talk to all the employees, and every major hockey superstar in the 60s, 70s, and 80s would visit the factory all the time and get their custom hockey sticks."

Roustan said this move, like any move, has been stressful. 

He said, "There is so much of an emotional tug on your heart to leave a building you've been in since 1905, for sure. Now, some of our employees have been there for 30 to 40 years. It's home for them. It's home."

But, Roustan said it was a move that had to be made. 

"If this business is to grow, it has got to move into the modern era of manufacturing and we need more space," Roustan said. 

He explained the company's order book has been growing steadily for over past number of years and it just isn't able to make anymore hockey sticks in that location. 

"We have to move. There's just no choice if we want to continue to grow," he added. 

Roustan said a big spark of growth has actually come from the pandemic.

With disruptions happening to global supply chains over the last 2 years, the company's made in Canada hockey sticks are an alternative.

Canadian Tire had also reached out to the company to further invest in Canadian-made products, moving a large portion of its hockey stick business to Roustan Hockey. 

The new location is a move that's been in the works since 2019 and the cost is in the millions to invest in the new factory. 

Roustan said Roustan Hockey wanted to find a community that would embrace the business and what it does.

Roustan said, "Although every town is a hockey town in Ontario, Brantford being the home of Wayne Gretzky, and Walter Gretzky, and the Gretzky family, there really isn't a better town that embraces hockey than Brantford, Ontario."

At least 50 new jobs will be created with the new location.

Roustan said this also comes with an opportunity to improve Roustan Hockey's environmental standards. 

"For example, we are switching from an oil-based paint system to a water-based paint system and that's very environmentally friendly."

The new factory will also be capable of producing composite hockey sticks, which require more power to produce.

The composite hockey sticks will be a new product line. 

Roustan added the company wanted to make sure the move will be less destructive to employees.

He said the company examined homes addresses of employees and determined that the new location will give 10 employees a shorter commute. 

Roustan said the business isn't about hockey sticks, but instead about the people that make hockey sticks.

"This business will celebrate it's 175th year in 2022 and the one thing you can thread through all those 175 years is that generations of families have worked for this company," he said. 

Roustan added that it's important that people support all Canadian manufacturing jobs and called them 'the fabric of our community.'

"When you go to buy a hockey stick, flip it over and on the back of it, it'll say where it's made. And, if it says 'made in Canada,' it comes from our factory, it comes from our 175 year history. It comes from Ontario. It comes from Canada. It supports Canadian jobs."

The company is about halfway through the move and expects to be fully out of the Hespeler building by the next two or three weeks.