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In Pictures: Inside the workshop of Ontario hockey-equipment manufacturer

Entrepreneur looks to compete against the big labels CCM and Bauer

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Jason Boddam is a classic entrepreneur. He was the kid who cut the neighbours’ lawns, washed cars and set up Kool-Aid stands to make enough money to control his own destiny. Fast-forward nearly three decades and he has done just that as the founder of Boddam Custom Hockey Ltd., an Orangeville, Ont.,-based manufacturer of goalie equipment for hockey and lacrosse players.

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Mr. Boddam grew up playing hockey and lacrosse on a backyard rink at his childhood home in Brampton, Ont. He originally set out to start a goalie-equipment repair business, but when he went to the bank looking for $100,000 they “actually laughed at me,” he recalls. He began offering repair services anyway, and one day a customer came to him with an old goalie glove and asked him to make new one. “I wasn’t busy and thought, ‘Why not?’” Mr. Boddam remembers. “I built the most beautiful glove.”

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The customer then took the glove to a sporting goods store in Brampton, told the owner that it was a handmade product, and the store owner ordered three that afternoon from Mr. Boddam. The business began taking off. Here he shows a custom order the company received from Germany.

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Boddam Custom Hockey also has supplied North America’s National Lacrosse League with goalie equipment exclusively for the past 12 years.

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But the Canadian brand is struggling to reach a new wave of young hockey players and compete with the big manufacturers including Bauer, the biggest name in the sport, and CCM. Both have more marketing prowess, and players in the NHL are more likely to use CCM or Bauer gear rather than a smaller name. “The consumer is in the driver’s seat because there are so many choices,” Mr. Boddam says.

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Mr. Boddam is pictured with his wife, Chris, and son Jesse in the company’s showroom and manufacturing space in Orangeville, Ont.

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But despite his big competitors, Mr. Boddam isn’t giving up. “If you didn’t know it was a Boddam pad versus Bauer or CCM, many people would say ours feels better,” he says.

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Business has stayed steady, Mr. Boddam says, bringing in sales in the “mid to high six figures” each year.

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Mr. Boddam says he will never turn to overseas labour. “To create something by hand is an amazing feeling.”

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