Feb 5, 2022 7:30 AM Orillia Matters
While many may be tired of talking about masks, two Barrie guys with the knowledge of workplace face coverings are hoping to get the word out about their unique products.
Scott Hunter and his business partner, Terry Barkey, own Custom Chameleon and have been working in the construction industry for many years, usually on sites with a large amount of dust and dirt in the air.
They found a proper mask product to k
'Masked men': Local duo pioneers industrial-style masks for Canadian workers
eep particles out three years ago from an American company, but they could only purchase them online. The duo tried to be a Canadian representative for the U.S. company, but the costs didn’t work, so they started importing a similar mask.
“Just before COVID hit, we received 6,000 masks in Canada. Our business partner in Quebec had 3,000 and we had 3,000,” Hunter told BarrieToday. “We were in talks with Canadian Tire and other major retailers. Then COVID hits and we sell every single one online.”
When countries went into lockdown, the local pair was not able to purchase any more masks.
The Barrie business partners, who operate on Codrington Street, went on a Canadian search for a product that would work and decided to create their own masks.
“We started manufacturing dust masks here in Canada and now manufacture our technical fabric-valved masks and three-ply, non-woven filter in Ontario,” Hunter said. “We sell our masks online and are in 16 Home Hardware Stores across Canada, a major retailer in B.C., and many woodworking stores.”
Hunter said selling their masks proved to be difficult during a time when the word 'masks' took on an unpopular meaning for many.
“As soon as you say 'masks', either everybody was kind of sick of seeing so many ads for them or it kind of got flagged I think because of people profiting off masks during the pandemic,” he said. “We just wanted people to understand these were industrial style.”
Barkey said they have masks available for daily use, but they’re not pushing them as much.
“We do have everyday masks because we’ve taken our material and made those as well,” he said. “Why wouldn’t we? We have the technology and materials, so we might as well do that. But we aren’t trying to capitalize on that and just want the workplace to get the best masks possible."
The partners believe they’re the only company in Canada doing what they’re doing as most deal with the U.S. for products.
“We get all of our materials here, we employ around 30 people (and) when we make our masks, we believe in trying to maintain the Canadian aspect of the business as best we can,” Barkey said.
The duo are still working their drywall and plumbing jobs while producing the masks, which they hope will help people understand their products are created with a working knowledge of the industry.
“I’ll put our masks up against anyone. I’m that confident in what we do,” said Barkey. “We know from experience what is needed for protection when working in a construction site and how much protection is needed.”
For more information on how to get the masks, check out the company’s website www.customchameleonstore.com