Nelson inventor-designer Kaj Gyr at his Mountain Station shop where he designs and manufactures a host of cool outdoor gear including the SlopeDeck that is now available across Canada and in countries like Sweden, Japan and Austria.

BUSINESS BUZZ: The joys of a West Kootenay winter

Business Buzz appears in the Nelson Star once a month. Bob Hall is the communications co-ordinator at Selkirk College and a volunteer director with the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce.

While doing my eleventh-hour Christmas panic-shopping last month, I blew into Tribute Boardshop in search of something cool for my son. With help from the crew at the Baker Street shop, I was introduced to a SlopeDeck — the latest iteration of winter sliding fun. Informed that it’s produced locally, I was easily sold and it was a great addition to the next morning’s activities.

The SlopeDeck is a creation of Nelsonite Kaj Gyr, a local inventor, designer and outdoor sports-lover who turns awesome ideas into reality out of his Mountain Station workshop on a regular basis. One of his most recent creations, the SlopeDeck takes the concept of snowskating to the next level.

“I wanted something that kids and adults could use on a 30-foot slope in Saskatchewan or wherever and just have fun all afternoon,” Gyr says.

The deck, that features an offset narrow base with Computer Numerical Control-machined arched grooves, takes the concept of snowskating to the next level. It provides enthusiasts of all levels with a more genuine feel of a skateboard because of the control, and when conditions are right it takes on a more genuine feel of surfing.

“To me, sledding or sliding on snow in your backyard is the quintessence of winter fun,” Gyr says. “It’s all-ages, low-tech, you don’t need to have special gear, you don’t need a lift, you don’t need a car. It’s basic and it’s what we need more of in the winter.”

Gyr’s first invention was hatched in the late-1980s when his cleverly designed wooden plastic bag drier hit the market. You have likely seen the bag drier at the Kootenay Co-Op and the former nurse still sells about 10,000 units a year worldwide. He has since come up with a steady stream of mostly sports-related inventions that have been licenced to mega-companies like K2, Converse and Black Diamond.

The 61-year-old Gyr gave me a quick demo of the prototype for his next sliding invention that features a similar design as the SlopeDeck, but requires the user to be seated. As he whizzed past me on Mountain Station with his dog chasing merrily behind, it reminded me of how awesome it is to live in the Kootenays.

You can pick up a SlopeDeck locally at Tribute and Ripping Giraffe.

Sticking with the winter theme and the impact locals have in shaping the outdoor industry at all levels… Olive Skateboards just released its Spitfire by Mark Fawcett snowboard. Fawcett competed in two Winter Olympics (1998 and 2002) in snowboarding and continues to coach the sport at the highest levels all across the planet. Olive Skateboards make Canadian snowboards and skateboards in Edmonton, and their new Fawcett model is a “directional pow surfer like no other.” The new board is available at Tribute Boardshop (of which Fawcett is also a partner in ownership).

Nelson’s RE/MAX RHC Reality has a history that stretches back all the way to 1908. As the new year began, the storied business turned the page to a new chapter when Glen Darough officially transferred ownership to Clark Coyston.

Darough has been a licensed realtor in Nelson since 1981 and took over running the office in 1994. In 1996, the company (which was known as RHC Realty) joined RE/MAX in order to gain brand recognition for the large number of people looking to relocate to Nelson.

With thoughts of retirement a few years down the road, Darough started looking for someone he thought would be a great fit to take over ownership of the office, thus allowing himself to return to a sales-only role until the time comes. Darough met Coyston at a RE/MAX conference last June and got to talking about his succession plans. That chat turned into what transpired on Jan. 1, and Coyston now brings his passion and experience to the team at the Baker Street office.

Community Futures Central Kootenay once again has a full slate of workshops in the coming months. From “How to Write Killer Sales Copy” to “Excel for Beginners” to “iPhone Photography for Small Business,” there is a something for everyone. Check out what they have coming up in February and March at, where you will find all the details on taking your skills to the next level.

Sad news over the Christmas break with the passing of former Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce executive director, local entrepreneur and community volunteer, Roy Heuckendorff. A central figure in the successful organization of Nelson’s Hockey Day In Canada showcase event back in 2007, Heuckendorff spent almost three years at the helm of the local Chamber between 2004 and 2007. He was 57 when he passed away on Dec. 23.

With an eye on helping provide better skills to current and future workers in the hospitality industry, Selkirk College is offering a special Commercial Kitchen Assistant Program. The learner-centred program will help students expand their workplace skills and readiness for this in-demand sector of our local economy. The program runs on Fridays between Jan. 25 and June 28. You can find out more information at

The excitement of welcoming tech company Traction on Demand to Nelson is growing. As the company prepares to move into its new Kootenay headquarters in the former Nelson Legion building, they are currently focused on hiring local talent. There are up to 20 positions that will eventually need to be filled in roles such as software developers, database developers, software project managers, business solutions consultants and more. Head to their website at for more details.

That’s it for this edition of Business Buzz. If you have a noteworthy business bite to include in an upcoming column please fire off an email to Bob Hall at Please note that this column is not a platform for advertising sales or products, just a conduit for keeping readers up to speed on all the cool moves, awesome events, helpful workshops and notable promotions that take place in our wonderful little mountain community

Bob Hall is the communications co-ordinator at Selkirk College and a volunteer director with the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce. Business Buzz appears in the Nelson Star once a month.


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