Local Company Helps Hockey and Other Sports Families Breathe Easy!
00:06 Lynne Jarman-Johnson: Money, I’m Home. Welcome in. From finance to fitness, we have it all for you here at Consumers Credit Union. Thanks for choosing our podcast this week, and with us is a very special guest, who I get to work with every single day except on this project. Well, although, I think we’re going to help you market the project. How’s that sound Jeffrey?
00:25 Jeffrey Timpe: Sounds great.
00:26 LJJ: Jeffrey Timpe, he is our home mortgage sales manager here at Consumers Credit Union. And you might think, we’re going to talk about mortgages. Well, you know what, if we have time at the end we will because you know it’s the best place to get your mortgages here, consumerscu.org. But, Jeffrey, we have something else that we’re talking about that I think is so much fun and so cool that you have started, along with your lovely bride. Tell us a little bit about what’s going on in your life.
00:54 JT: Well, about a month ago with ice rinks opening, we were looking for a product that would be easy, safe for our son and my hockey team that I coach to get on the ice. So, we set out one evening to design something that would fit along the inside the cage of a hockey mask.
01:12 LJJ: Now, Jeffrey your son plays hockey. How old is he?
01:16 JT: So, he’s going to be 11 next week.
01:19 LJJ: And you’re the big coach, right?
01:21 JT: I am the coach, I’ve coached for 13 years. I coached our older son for numerous years and also coached back in high school as well. So, we have a long history with hockey. I played my whole life growing up. My wife has done all kinds of jobs around the rink. She’s been our manager for all the teams. She’s also the vice president of the board at our hockey association. So, our passion for hockey runs really deep.
01:44 LJJ: Well, and if any of you listening, if you know a hockey family or you are a part of a hockey family, aren’t you lucky because it truly is a family bar none. Hey, tell me something, back in March, the world shuts down with COVID and many places are closed. And then, slowly but surely, sports started back up again. But in Michigan and in other states, there’s a mandate for mask wearing. What was it, Jeffrey, that you started looking at going, “Okay, my son’s going to get on the ice; my team is going to get on the ice. What am I going to do to help keep our kids safe?”
02:20 JT: Yeah, absolutely. So, when it did shutdown in March it kind of shut our season down just a little bit early. We only missed a few end of the season practices, so that wasn’t too bad. But it was kind of hard on the team. We didn’t have a final going away party, celebrations. We had a lot of success last year, and we weren’t really able to celebrate those. Going on the field at the Tigers game would’ve been a really cool opportunity that unfortunately the kids did miss out on.
02:46 JT: With us here in Michigan, especially Kalamazoo, with the governor’s orders, the rinks were shut down until about five weeks ago, I believe. There was a lot of time in between there where it was for people to kind of reset, but it was also hard because a lot of these kids like to stay in shape, get on the ice throughout the summer.
03:05 JT: So when we finally got word that the rinks were going to open up, you know, you start looking at the options of what’s available out there for my child and other children in my team, and our hockey community in general, in the state of Michigan and what they can wear. So a couple of the big manufacturers, Bower and CCM did have a couple of products, were out there, but they weren’t on the market yet, and we knew that they were going to be three to four weeks out at best case there.
03:34 JT: So we decided, my wife being very innovative and crafty, decided that we might as well take a shot at this and see what we could do to get our son on the ice comfortably and just to make their experience fun. That’s what it’s all about, is having fun out there. So we did set out, we designed one, had him test it out in the morning on his first ice session back in six months.
03:57 LJJ: Hey, Jeffrey visually explain to me what that means when you designed one. It’s different than a face mask that’s up on your ears, correct?
04:05 JT: Yeah, so it’s just a face covering. So, what it does is it actually attaches right inside to the cage, so there’s five points of contact for the cage of the hockey mask. So the idea behind it was to, again, cover, because you need to have your nose and your mouth covered but we also want it to come out away, so that they had the opportunity to be able to breathe easier. Which again, led us into the name of our product, which is the Breathe EZ, because it does make the breathing so much easier for them. It doesn’t constrict it, it gives them the opportunity to also get drinks of water without having to fuss with their mask. They can go right underneath there, and do that through that route.
04:47 LJJ: So, go back to your wife. So, she says to you one night, “Look, we’re going to figure this out.”
04:52 JT: Yep, absolutely. So we do this all the time. We like to create things. We like to build things. We’re do-it-yourselfers. So any problem that’s kind of put in front of us, we try to come up with a solution on our own. Call it cheap. Call it innovative. I’m not sure which one. Probably a little of both.
05:08 LJJ: I think that’s called entrepreneurial.
05:13 JT: That’s true, too. So yeah, we set out late one night to design this, and there was a couple of trial and errors. Putting it in the mask, getting out the chalk, and just testing a few different options. And we’ve definitely evolved in our design, but that first initial one is still the same concept that we go with today.
05:35 LJJ: Fast-forward a little bit. Your son gets on the ice, and he’s really the first one that has this. Did you make enough for the whole team or was it, let’s try this first, and then away you went?
05:46 JT: Yeah, so we actually got the one done. It was a late-night session, so we weren’t sure how it would work out or how it would… He was sleeping, so we hadn’t even gotten to try it on his face yet. We had both tried it on ourselves in a mask, so that was fun. But then once he went to… He had two different ice sessions for a camp that weekend. So he tried it out in the morning and people started asking about it right away, so we went back into our… Into the craft room, and we whipped out as many as we could in the hour and a half that we had and we gave them to some other friends, teammates, and put those out there, and the response after that was just unbelievable. It was quick; it was swift. The main thing is, is that people liked it, as a good option for them to get out there, because again, the kids felt comfortable in it. So they had a good experience getting on the ice. There was a lot of hesitation, a lot of push back, that everybody has to wear these masks.
06:46 LJJ: Now then, all of a sudden, there became a phone call, because this isn’t just your own hockey team, now this has grown exponentially.
06:55 JT: After the second session on that Saturday, my wife had posted something, and we didn’t even have the design up or anything, any specifics about it, but just from her business that she did a few things here and there, people knew that we put out a quality product and that we really care about what we do. So we had people posting and commenting, “I don’t know even know what you have, but we want some,” which is pretty funny. Nobody’s even seen this. Few people had seen it at the rink, but the people that were posting that, were just going just from their experience with us and us being around the rink and everything.
07:31 LJJ: That is just incredible. So now, you actually have orders from across the country, as well as some known names of hockey groups.
07:41 JT: Yeah, so we do have a couple of different Division I hockey teams that are currently… Have purchased our product. We do have Western Michigan. That was one of the first actual calls that we got.
07:55 LJJ: Go Broncos.
07:56 JT: Yes, go Broncos. Absolutely. So they had reached out that first initial weekend to someone in our organization to put them in touch with the people that made this mask that they heard about, which had only been designed 24 hours before.
08:10 LJJ: No, wait a minute. So Jeffrey, doesn’t that kind of amaze you?
08:15 JT: Absolutely. Yes.
08:16 LJJ: That word of mouth, that someone sees something and says something, that it’s just crazy fun.
08:21 JT: That was kind of when it was kind of a shock, that they’re reaching out to us for this, and you’re a Division I hockey school. Great school, great hockey program, love watching their games, we do a lot… We would go to a lot of their games. My son has skated a lot with them. Done all their camps. So it’s a pretty big deal for us.
08:42 LJJ: One of the things that you said to me, which is, I just… It warmed my heart was, you know how people will say all the time, “God, why didn’t I think of that?” And guess what? You guys did.
08:56 JT: Yeah. My wife’s the queen of saying that. She always says, “Why didn’t I think of that?” And she said that, right… Said something about it, right after this started to kick off, and I said, “See, you were finally the one that thought of it, and you got it figured out.”
09:13 LJJ: How can people find out about it? I know it’s called the Breathe EZ.
09:15 JT: That is correct.
09:17 LJJ: How can they find out where to go to order?
09:20 JT: Currently, we do have it through our Facebook page, which is Bar Down Creations LLC.
09:27 LJJ: And spell that, B…
09:29 JT: B-A-R [space] D-O-W-N Creations, C-R-E-A-T-I-O-N-S, LLC.
09:40 LJJ: Yep. Bar Down Creations LLC. So go to Facebook, and then you can get in touch with you guys, to order these face hockey masks. Now, because of that, have you started thinking other sports teams, other ways that you can do this, or are you going to stick to hockey for a little bit?
10:01 JT: That’s actually a great question. We actually had a high school team and Western’s football team reach out to us, pretty much almost right after that first weekend as well, about coming up with a design for them. So we did outfit one high school team, and all through their high school and middle school teams. So we have done a football mask and we did also outfit Western’s football team as well, in the early part of this. So, pretty cool.
10:31 LJJ: Well, this is awesome. Jeffrey congrats to you. I’ll tell you what, we smile a lot, when we talk about business here at Consumers Credit Union. This kind of business is what makes you just jump up and down, because it’s a proof that you can do it, you can do it. It takes a little grit though, doesn’t it?
10:50 JT: Absolutely, there’s been a lot of sleepless nights. I have two other jobs.
10:54 LJJ: I was going to say, we’re kind of busy in mortgages, so I don’t…
10:57 JT: Yeah, we are busy there, and then I am also the coach as well, so that is my second job, and my third job is now making face coverings. But ultimately, I think the biggest thing for us, is that we’ve been able to put out this product that again, helps the children get on the ice. Kids… Even, we’re getting adults now, ’cause we do have them for adults. We have men’s league teams that are reaching out. So that’s the biggest thing, and that’s I think, where our biggest impact and greatest joy comes from, is being able to help out and do something that’s a benefit to society, instead of complaining about, that they have to wear the mask. I think that was the biggest thing. There was a lot of negativity towards it, which everybody has their opinion, but the ultimate thing is that we were able to provide a solution that helps have an impact on people.
11:47 LJJ: Well, Jeffrey, you do that every day here, so thank you so much for being with us.
11:51 JT: Thank you.
11:52 LJJ: Again, if you like information, head to Bar Down Creations LLC on Facebook, and you can reach out. And I’ll tell you what, this is something that you can say, “I helped a startup,” but you also help save lives.
12:05 JT: Thanks, Lynne.
12:06 LJJ: Thanks, Jeffrey. Hey, thank you for joining us. If you have a great topic you’d like us to talk about or share, please send it our way. Thank you, Jake Esselink, for your production skills. I’d like to say thank you for listening and join us next week. Money, I’m Home, from finance to fitness, on Consumers Credit Union.