A Minnesota dairy farmer has found himself in the hockey business. Chris Kerfeld of Sauk Centre moved away from full-time work in the fields a few years ago to start an agricultural supply company called Blue Lake Plastics, which he ran out of his home.
One of the company's top products is net wrap, a plastic sheet used to wrap hay bales. But it's become in high demand, but not for farmers. In 2009, Kerfeld tells the St. Cloud Times, he had a call from a Twin Cities man wanting plastic cut for an ice rink he was going to build in his back yard. Kerfeld said no, but the calls kept coming.
"So I finally did what he asked, rolled it up and sent it out by Spee-Dee (Delivery Service). I figured that would be the end of it," he shares with the SC Times.
But it was really just the beginning. Orders began pouring in. Kerfeld found out the ice-rink lining business was a billion-dollar industry, and he had a high-quality product to offer.
The business has skyrocketed. After a few hundred orders in the first years of selling rink liners, orders hit more than 1,300 in 2013. Blue Lake Plastics has a new website, and the Kerfelds expect the business to grow 35-40 percent.
You can order a small rink liner for $36 or get an NHL-sized one for $1,360.
Kerfeld's wife has joined him in the business, the dairy cows have been sold and a few part-time employees are on staff.
The Kerfeld clientele includes the Wild and city rinks in Sartell and Little Falls, but it's mostly families who build rinks in their backyards.
Want some inspiration to make your own backyard hockey rink?
Local outdoor companies such as Warner's Outdoor Solutions in Woodbury will install a NiceRink.
NiceRink is a Wisconsin-based company that provides the framework for backyard hockey rinks.