Synthetic ice company in Strathroy, Ontario. booms during the pandemic

STRATHROY, ONT. – Excel Synthetic Ice company started barely a year and a half ago, but has already sold its entire inventory after avid hockey families searched for alternatives to closed rinks.

“We looked around and couldn’t find exactly what we were looking for, so we reached out to some manufacturers and were able to find exactly what we wanted,” says Meghan Jonkhans, owner of Excel Synthetic Ice in Strathroy. .

His son Brandon was the first test subject for the project, and once Jonkhans started offering it to the public, it didn’t take long for business to flourish.

“I’ve always wanted synthetic ice, as far back as I can remember,” said Brandon Balcar, a 14-year-old competitive goaltender. His family installed the ice a few months ago and now he and his brother have something to hone their skills every day.

“Kids love it,” says mom Jian Balcar. “It’s convenient, they can go skating in the morning before going to school, and they go skating after school.

According to dad, Lubos Balcar, with the money saved by not traveling to tournaments, they were able to make the investment.

“You have two kids in competitive hockey, you practice seven days a week at the hockey arena,” says Lubos.

“Four tournaments a year, hotels and all travel, so you’re looking at a few thousand dollars a year, and now that it’s all closed you can’t travel and we don’t have tournaments. Even buying only synthetic ice, we are still in black numbers.

Adapting to synthetic ice was difficult at first, but now young hockey players are saying it pays off when they return to the rink.

“At first it’s pretty hard to start skating, but once you get going and your blades warm up, it’s really easy,” says Brandon.

The company is looking to expand into a retail location with a test facility this year.

“We are working with local municipalities to try to find the appropriate zoning to further open a retail and test facility for tiles.”

Company photos website show patrons who’ve converted garages, basements and even front porches into mini-rinks as families go to great lengths to get their fix of hockey this winter.

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