Sylvain Bourdeau had his eureka moment when he spotted the ground littered with cigarette butts outside a Boucherville, Que., bar on the eve of the province’s introduction of its ban on smoking in public places.
“It hit me like a fl ash what people do with their cigarette butts,” Bourdeau said, recalling his May 30 epiphany.
The image also reminded him of Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay’s pledge to clear city streets and sidewalks of unsightly cigarette butts.
Marcel Tremblay, the mayor’s brother and city councillor in charge of the cleanup program, referred to a billion butts being discarded in public yearly.
“I had a vision and two days later, I got to work on it,” Bourdeau said of his subsequent invention — the patent- pending I Kkwit Ashtray Tower, a streamlined, 1.4-metre-tall hollow aluminum post that can customized in a variety of colours.
Bourdeau said he added the second K to the name because a search found the word “kwit” was already taken for another product.
“Besides, the letter K has strong business association to companies like Kodak and Kellogg’s,” he added.
The St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., entrepreneur spent $1,200 on a prototype.
Bourdeau is marketing his ashtray to all three levels of government (in Quebec there are 350 municipalities alone), bars, restaurants, hospitals and companies that have employees who smoke.
The price, a few hundred dollars each depending on the quantity bought, includes installation, a choice of 400 colours and a 10-year guarantee even though Bourdeau suggests the ashtray will last at least 25 years without rusting.
Twenty-fi ve are now being built on order at a subcontracted hometown company he said is capable of producing 50 to 100 a week. The plan is also to rent the ashtrays for events and eventually sell advertising on them, making them revenue-generating.
Bourdeau claims he refused an offer of $250,000 last week for 30 per cent of the company “because I think my business will be worth a lot more than that before long.” He said he also turned down a potential partner who wanted to have the ashtrays made cheaply in China.