Companies often develop into family trees, with clusters of progeny growing hither and yon, and an interesting group of shoots is sprouting in northern Nova Scotia around an intriguing entrepreneur called Joe Menchefski.
He is the CEO of Billdidit, a design-and-manufacturing concern best known for drumming products, and he has teamed up with chemistry professors from St. F.X. to form GMS Surface Tech, which produces green cleaning products now selling at such chains as Staples, Grand and Toy and Basic.
Born and raised in Whitney Pier, Menchefski received an engineering degree from the Technical University of Nova Scotia (now the Dalhousie engineering school) and gained an MBA in the US. He spent much of his career in the petrochemical and plastics industry in Southern Ontario before returning to Cape Breton in 2005.
After serving several years as the Vice President of Advanced Glazings, Menchefski linked up with Bill Coady, a multifaceted inventor with a passion for drumming, and together they formed Sydney-based Billdidit. Its first product was the Coady Clutch, which allows a drummer to close his hi hat (two cymbals that open and close using a foot pedal) when he’s using both feet for the dual base-drum pedals. The product was the runner up in Innovacorp’s 2009-10 I-3 competition and is now being sold to and used by drummers around the world.
Billdidit has also produced other products for drums (and my descriptions of them would probably be as hamfisted as my description of the Coady Clutch) and is now considering expanding its range of products. In fact, Bill Coady has introduced 28 new products that Billdidit hopes to launch as products in the next few years. They include five or six household products (as opposed to drum gear), the first of which may be launched in mid-2012.
“We’d like to get to the point where we launch about nine products a year,” said Menchefski over a green tea at a Sydney restaurant recently. “We’re looking at the purchase of three significant pieces of machinery, which will help with the prototyping, which is by far the biggest bottleneck we have.”
Billdidit closed its first round of funding, worth “hundreds of thousands” in May 2010, and is now in the midst of another raise with a target of $400,000, said Menchefski.
Meanwhile, Menchefski has teamed up with Gerrard Marangoni and Kulbir Singh to form GMS Surface Tech of Antigonish to produce the HPG line of green products for cleaning surfaces like whiteboards and plasma screens in offices, schools and institutions. The products are scent-free and non-toxic, so much so that Menchefski drinks the cleaner during his sales pitch. (Don’t ask him what it tastes like if there are children present.)
GMS, which is financed half by private investment and half by Acoa, is also working on new applications for its research, from new surface technologies to the manufacture of nanoparticles.