A trip to a farm in rural Alberta over Christmas is what gave Kenton Irvine-Peers, Owner of Rustic Supplies Co. the idea to start his business. “While driving I saw a knocked down barn wood fence. I thought this is such a wasted opportunity for space for the farmer as well as an opportunity to sell barn wood, which so many people are looking for. It was a light bulb moment.”
After a meeting with the Entrepreneurial Development Centre at Medicine Hat College and watching one of their pitch competitions, Kenton came up with a business plan that included a unique twist to supplying barn wood. Rustic Supplies first tears down old sheds and barns, which helps reclaim the land for the farmer, stores the repurposed wood and then sells it. With every barn taken down, they take a picture of the structure, mark the location and attach a personal story from the farmer. Every person who purchases their wood knows where that specific wood came from, and the story behind the building. “Our biggest goal is to preserve rural heritage while repurposing the wood. Growing up in a small town you come to appreciate the history in our area,” says Kenton. This premium authentic barn wood will be used by artists, contractors and DIY’ers.
Kenton considers being one of the winners in the 2019 MHC Start Up Company Pitch Competition, where he was also awarded the Community Impact Award, as one of his biggest successes so far. He plans to use his winnings to invest in equipment and a trailer to haul the wood. When explaining his experience with the Entrepreneurial Development Centre Kenton says, “words don’t do justice for the support and knowledge that the EDC gives each student. They go above and beyond in challenging us.”
On top of completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Kenton has big plans for Rustic Supplies this year. He will be looking at setting up an e-commerce website, finding suitable storage space and gearing up for the busy Christmas season by sourcing and removing available wood this fall. His long-term dream is to find a big enough workshop for small businesses to come in as a collective and use his wood supply to create their projects.
APEX Alberta is a collaborative initiative between three core service providers: Community Futures Entre-Corp, Medicine Hat College and Alberta Innovates. These partners work together to help entrepreneurs start, grow and innovate their businesses. To see more entrepreneurial success stories go to apexalberta.ca