When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.
And when Splash Mobile Truck Wash discovered that business declined during the winter, it decided to make ice rinks - a move that kept its fleet of water trucks busy rather than sitting idle.
After dipping its toe in the water last year, Splash's ice-rink-building business has taken off in 2010, as parents continue to look for new ways to get their children outside rather than spend all their time playing video games or surfing the web.
Splash's owner Cameron Roelofsen says he expects the Concord, Ont.-based company to make 75 to 100 ice rinks this year, compared with 20 last year.
"It is a great way to keep our guys busy," he explains. "In our business, it's cyclical. This has been the slowest time of the year for us in the past. We are so busy right now, it's unbelievable. We're doing one to two rinks every single day."
Splash got into the rink-building business by accident. The company, which washes 2,500 trucks a week when business is busy, was asked if it could put water into an outdoor rink. Recognizing there was an opportunity to expand, Mr. Roelofsen decided to buy some search-related ads on Google, and place some signs around a few neighbourhoods in downtown Toronto.
To build a rink, Splash comes to your backyard to see how big it can be. After building a frame and inserting a reusable liner, Splash's water truck will pump in two inches of water. After letting it freeze for three days, the rink is ready to use. After that, all the homeowner needs to do is water the rink regularly to maintain the base and keep the ice smooth.
Mr. Roelofson said a rink, which costs $1,000 to $2,000, will be disassembled by Splash in the spring, and placed in the customer's garage until the following winter.
"People absolutely love them," he says. "It is not so much that we have to hype it up. It is one of those things, you get something that is a winner, and this one is a winner. People are really happy with the service, and they're asking if we can sell them other things such as lights."
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.