Tonawanda News

November 1, 2005

Turning odors into dollars

Kevin Purdy

Sometimes, a teenager’s complaints can lead to more than just arguments and sulking.

For Rich DeMarco and Tom Hanna, a 16-year-old girl’s refusal to put up with foul-smelling hockey gear led to a business plan.

Two Ole Dads, their recently-opened shop at 2701 Pine Ave., specializes in getting the “sports smell” out of nearly anything that can fit inside a locker-like Sani Sport machine.

The two neighbors and sports parents, who have known each other since childhood, got their idea after DeMarco’s daughter complained about the smell of her brother’s hockey equipment being stored near her basement bedroom.

“We both know what hockey gear, and other sports equipment, smells like after it’s been used,” Hanna said. “That’s where our name comes from — we’re two sports dads, and we provide a good service for people who play.”

The Sani Sport machine, which is used by the NHL and costs about $14,000 for a unit that’s 5 1/2-foot tall, uses tea tree oil to create a disinfecting ozone gas. The gas permeates into the crevices of sports gear where bacteria feed on perspiration, creating an odor familiar to any athlete.

The process takes about 20 minutes and doesn’t get equipment wet or damage it. For larger equipment with lots of surfaces, the two will sometimes use a “bacteriacide” spray to keep the smell from returning.

The two say their machine has already faced what they consider the biggest odor challenges around — two bags, brought in by separate customers, which cats had used as litter boxes, and skates worn by barefoot hockey enthusiasts.

“If we can get rid of the cat urine smell, we can handle anything,” Hanna said.

“And the same thing with my skates,” DeMarco added.

The two offer their sanitizing service for all sports equipment — football, lacrosse, boxing gloves — and even fireman’s gear. They also offer blade sharpening and sell hockey gear, at prices Hanna hopes attracts families visiting the area and in need of quick replacement items.

“We’re trying to find out what people who play need, and we’re going to try to help them,” Hanna said.

For more information on the service, call Hanna at (716) 579-2510 or DeMarco at (716) 417-2640.