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St. Clair Shores

April 23, 2014

Repurposed hockey sticks make for unique look for phones

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Terry Johnson, of St. Clair Shores, holds some used hockey sticks that will be recycled into smartphone cases called Original Stix. Disabled veterans will be working to cut the hockey sticks down for the cases.

ST. CLAIR SHORES — The thwack of a stick on the ice is a sound beloved by most hockey fans.

Now a local entrepreneur and his business partners are hoping to capitalize on that devotion by filling what they see as a hole in the market for smartphone cases.

“As a lifetime hockey player and fan, I know all the hockey-related cases are just plastic rubber with the logo stamped on it,” said 24-year-old Terry Johnson, of St. Clair Shores.

In college, he saw a table in a home made out of hockey sticks. That got him thinking about a belt he once owned made from Hummer seat belts, and the idea evolved from there.

“It just got me thinking about … repurposed” items, he said. “That’s when the idea hit me for the hockey stick phone (case).”

He developed the idea for Original Stix in the summer of 2013, working with some friends from Michigan State University and former co-workers to develop a polycarbonate frame into which slides a sliver of a hockey stick that had been used — and broken — by someone playing hockey on a professional, semi-pro or college team.

“After the idea hit me, the first thing I was questioning was where to find sticks,” Johnson said. “I found this guy in Toronto who gets broken sticks from a number of professional teams.

“It’s never really consistent what players or teams, but it’s consistently from NHL, semi-pro and college teams.”

Johnson and his partners teamed up with Osirius Group in Troy, former automotive engineers who began their own firm, to manufacture and produce the product. They, in turn, got Original Stix in contact with a group of disabled American veterans, who will be cutting the broken hockey sticks down to be used for the phone cases.

“He stumbled upon a niche that we wanted to exploit and, in doing so, reached out to certain members who could … add value to the company at large,” said co-founder Michael Dremluk, of Port Washington, N.Y. “It’s a market pioneer. I don’t think there’s too many companies that have the idealistic goals that we have. The fact that we’re using recyclable goods provides a greener landscape.”

Johnson said that when the cases are first available at originalstix.com, buyers won’t be able to choose what sticks are featured in their case. Each case will come with two sticks so the user can swap based on preferences and team loyalty. But the company will also have two-packs of extra sticks available for sale so buyers can try for a different team or just change the look of their case.

“There’s no true authenticity for the typical sports fan — that’s sort of a niche we wanted to exploit,” said Dremluk, who also works in the global real estate group of Lehman Brothers Holdings in New York.

Having company co-founders in Michigan, Chicago and New York will help the company expand its client-base and find new stores to feature the product, said Johnson, who played hockey for the St. Clair Shores youth league and then from 2005-2007 at Warren De La Salle.

For more information, visit originalstix.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.

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