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Smoking ban fired up entrepreneurial spirit

By November 13, 2018No Comments

Receptacle targets Quebec’s budding butt woes

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 flash 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 a year being discarded in public.

“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 be 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 — who with his father, Jerome, launched a company, Jer-B-Syl Inc., that manufactures polyethylene containers for fruits and vegetables — spent $1,200 on a prototype.

Bourdeau is marketing his ashtray to all three levels of government, including Quebec’s 350 municipalities, as well as bars, restaurants, hospitals and companies.

The price, a few hundred dollars each depending on the quantity bought, includes installation, a choice of 400 colours and a 10-year guarantee, although Bourdeau suggests the ashtray will last at least 25 years without rusting.

Twenty-five are now being built on order at a subcontracted hometown company he said is capable of making 50 to 100 a week.

The company also plans to rent the ashtrays for events and eventually sell advertising on them, which would make them revenue generators.

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.

“I insist on staying in Quebec,” Bourdeau said.

“I’m already creating local jobs with this project and I’d like to see something made in Quebec that will eventually be exported worldwide.”

Mike King, Montreal Gazette; CanWest News Service