Kim Tuck Speak about Canada Curling Stone Co.
Kim Tuck, the Co-owner of The Canada Curling Stone Co. located in "downtown Lobo" spoke to us on October 1, 2015 about how curling is her and her husband's passion and running a successful business that is only 1 of 2 companies world wide that makes curling stones is an extension of this passion.
  President Lillian sitting at the head table with our Speaker, Kim Tuck.
 
A newspaper article dedicated to the Canada Curling Company can be found on the next page....
 

Rocking the curling industry

Jacob Robinson

By Jacob Robinson, Simcoe Reformer

As part of the Canada Curling Stone Co. in Lobo, Wayne and Kimberly Tuck help produce curling stones and products used by top professionals and clubs across the country and beyond.
JACOB ROBINSON/AGE DISPATCH/QMI AGENCY

As part of the Canada Curling Stone Co. in Lobo, Wayne and Kimberly Tuck help produce curling stones and products used by top professionals and clubs across the country and beyond. JACOB ROBINSON/AGE DISPATCH/QMI AGENCY

Most people treat curling as a six month sport – something to do when the weather turns frigid. That's not the case for employees of the Canada Curling Stone Co.  in Lobo.

“We're curling 24/7, all year round,” explained Kimberly Tuck, whose father Fred Veale - a mechanist by trade - started the business in the late 80s.

“We're always looking forward to something other than curling, but you can't help but live (the sport). When we go home at night, we talk about curling. When I get together with Fred – even if it’s somebody’s birthday in our family – inadvertently the conversation will also go back to a job that we're working on.”

During his travels working with ice scrapers, Veale was approached to become a Canadian division of the world's only manufacturer of curling rocks. Eventually, the Hyde Park location became its own business and moved to a larger building just east of Strathroy four years ago. In those early years, the business survived mostly by rock repairs, not sales.

“When we first got into it, a lot of club stones were still in decent condition ... and a lot of attention was paid to ice conditions in curling clubs. It's just been in the last little while that clubs have been paying a lot of attention to their rocks,” Tuck explained.

With their ability to repair and sell rocks, the company began to take advantage of Veale's background and expanded into machines like shoe cleaners and ice scrapers. Most of their work can be done on site, a place where all but two workers are direct members of the family.

“We've basically not only become a curling stone manufacturing company but also have (products) in the whole industry of curling, so I think that's what kept us busy – being involved in those other areas,” Tuck explained. “So when clubs are busy using their stones and we can't work on them, we're busy making ice equipment and providing those services.”

Since their move, the company – now one of just two curling stone manufacturers in the world – is selling more rocks than ever before. Year after year, clubs are finding out stones in use for north of fifty years cannot withstand constant abuse.

“Rocks in this country are old and a lot of clubs are in the situation of having to replace them. A lot of clubs are in old buildings, so there are a lot of things they have to do – they have to replace the refrigeration systems, the roof, the floor and the curling stones are falling into that,” Tuck said. “We've seen a big increase in business definitely over the last four or five years in new stones and a lot of that is due to the age of stones in Canada, across the country and the world because we sell rocks all over the place.”

Curling being an international game, the Canada Curling Stone Co. has products that have been utilized in both major events and small town clubs the world over. Their stones have appeared at the Grand Slam of Curling, Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Canadian Mixed and national junior championships among others. Their rocks even took to the silver screen in 2002 as part of the Leslie Nielsen movie entitled “Men With Brooms”.

Interestingly enough, Tuck and her husband Wayne have competed at a number of elite events their products are used, like the 2014 Scotties where Tuck was a fifth for Team Ontario in February.

“We're always proud to see our rocks used at any event – whether it's on TV or something that's being held locally. Being a family business, our stones are like our kids, which sounds silly, but whenever our stones are being used at an event I'm paying particular attention to what's going on, what's being said and how the ice is running because I have a vested interest in how those stones perform,” she said. “As a curler, I've always been a little harder on myself as far as, if something's going wrong it’s likely my fault - I tend to blame myself and not the rocks because of the business that we're in. It's great to see them in use and we are actually getting our stones into more events which is great, but you see them and want things to be perfect. Any little comment from the guys or girls that are using them, we take it personally – good or bad.”

The rocks have gotten the thumbs up from current legends like Glenn Howard. The company – which receives its granite from a site in Wales - even shipped a set to Brad Jacobs' rink to train with prior to the squad winning gold at the Sochi Olympics. Tuck and her team take just as much pride in helping the game's weekend warriors as they do the professionals.

“As much as we're in business, I'm a member of a small curling club, I know the back stories of how curling clubs work and their financial issues,” explained Tuck, a Strathroy resident and member of the Ilderton Curing Club. “Curling is not a lucrative sport by any means and I know that, so I feel like being involved that way, when (customers) call me, I'm not just trying to make a sale...I'm also trying to work with the club and get them the best (option) that I can get within their budget.”

“I like to feel we go above and beyond and treat your club as if it was our club.”

Stones have been manufactured the same way for a number of years, but the Canada Curling Stone Co. continues to move forward. Currently the business is looking at computerizing the process in the near future, which will guarantee every stone is identical.

Tuck's aspiration for the business goes beyond an overhaul within factory walls however. She's pushing for the Canadian rocks to enter more international events – one in particular.

Said Tuck, “my goal is to get them into the Olympics before I retire.”

Jacob.robinson@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @LondonerJacob

 
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