On the ice, Nate Hooper and Brandson Hein are known for their skills with hockey sticks. Now, they hope to be known for their prowess with shovels.
The teammates and longtime friends are hoping to start shovelling driveways around Flin Flon this winter.
Inspiration to begin a snow shovelling business first struck the pair late last season when a blizzard covered the Flin Flon area with well over two feet of snow. Along with the rest of their teammates, Hein and Hooper grabbed shovels and helped dig out their billets, as well as neighbours’ and friends’ homes.
After that experience, the teammates wondered if there could be a market for clearing snow after bouts of bad weather.
“At the end of the year I thought about it and thought ‘Why not?’ It can’t really hurt. There are people, like our billets’ dad, who can’t always get out and shovel the driveway off if we get a foot or two of snow,” said Hein.
During Hein and Hooper’s time in Flin Flon, they have stayed with Glen and Ronna Rideout. As well as discussing things with their families back in Winnipeg, the pair asked their billet family if they liked the idea. According to Hein, they thought the idea was solid.
“That was a no-brainer. It gave me a lot of reassurance that it would work out,” he said.
For Hooper, the idea came naturally. He said that as a teenager growing up in Winnipeg, his dad did commercial snow removal in the winter months.
“I helped him for probably about four or five years there, from when I was 13 all the way until I was 18. Not that you need lots of experience for this, but I’ve got a lot,” he said.
While the pair are enthusiastic, their hours can be limited. Hein said playing junior hockey can interfere with a player’s schedule if they want to work a day job. While both Hein and Hooper work, Hein said the amount of hours and days they can work are tight. At best, the players are only able to squeeze in a few hours of work each day.
On the ice, Hein and Hooper have gotten off to the hottest starts of any SJHL players this year. As of Nov. 2, Hein led the league in goals and points through 19 games, scoring 22 goals and adding 36 total points, while Hooper, the Bombers’ captain, was second in league scoring behind Hein and led the league in assists with 22.
Buddies since their midget hockey days in Winnipeg, the pair hope their new business venture sees similar success and can provide a benefit after the season is over.
Both Hein and Hooper are eligible for college hockey next season. Hein said he plans to pursue a business degree, citing his brother – a successful entrepreneur – as an inspiration and saying that the experience from the shovelling group would be valuable down the road.
“It could definitely be a stepping stone for us, doing that stuff and following through, dealing with customers, any problems and resolving them. I think that’s a huge learning aspect of it,” he said.
Keeping up the hectic schedule of a junior hockey player along with maintaining a business may be time consuming, but both Hein and Hooper said the positive community impact their work could have is worth it, adding they may recruit teammates.
“It makes a positive impact on the team and how much we care about the community,” said Hein.
“The team is so involved with Flin Flon. We’re at events almost every single week, there’s always something going on, especially in the schools. From the time I’ve been here, I’d say there’s a lot of community work because the Bombers mean so much to the community. It’s nice that people see that we do care and that we want to do this kind of thing.”