Posted by Kevin J. Sabo
For the bashaw star
Two teenagers from the area are learning firsthand about the spirit of entrepreneurship with their side business at Bashaw’s PolyAg recycling facility.
Kobe Zembal from Bashaw, 14, and 16-year-old Kale Rochette from Sherwood Park joined forces at the end of March to produce raised beds and benches from recycled plastic wood produced by PolyAg Recycling.
The boys were initiated into this undertaking by Dan Zembal, the owner of Poly Ag, and Dan Rochette, a friend of the family.
“For Dan and me, the motivation was getting our boys into a cohort and creating a small business for them in the midst of this pandemic with limited options,” said Dan Rochette.
“We didn’t want them to just do something and pay them for it. This is actually a business venture that is truly theirs and they have insight into all aspects of the business. “
And so far, business is going well.
“When we started this company, we made planters,” said Kale.
“(They ranged) from large, giant planters to tiny little planters. We didn’t expect the little planters to sell, but they did. Our most popular planter was the one in the middle. “
Demand for the planters did well in the first few months of operation, but it subsided, leading to the four options debating what else they could produce.
“We thought benches would be a natural transition for the summer,” said Dan Rochette.
The plastic wood used in the manufacture of these planters and benches is made at Polyag Recycling, although other constructions also use plastic from residential recycling.
“There are materials from the homes’ recycling stream that are reclaimed and incorporated into the synthetic wood,” said Dan Rochette.
Three different sizes of planters are available for sale. The small planters are $ 300, the medium ones are $ 400, and the large ones are $ 500. The banks cost $ 300.
The designs of the planters and benches are all created in-house, with Dan Zembal acting as chief engineer, designing and producing prototypes for the boys to copy.
To date, the guys have made $ 25,000 in sales.
“At first it was a little side gig, then we actually did more and more of it – when we were building this we realized that people actually wanted it,” said Kobe. “Back then, a small side gig turned into a business.”
The boys spend most of Saturdays building the planters and benches in the PolyAg facility.