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Ontario carpenter grabs deal on Dragons’ Den

 

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Zeppsgear, a St. Catharines company that produces outerwear designed for labourers working at heights, got a financial boost this month with a successful trip to the Dragon’s Den.

Company owner and scaffolder Pete Zeppetella and his daughter Cecily, a fourth-year media and communications student at Brock University, demonstrated his patented jacket that allows the worker to wear their harness under the jacket safely.

As a result, the pair received a deal with two dragons for $80,000 for 50 per cent of the business. Click the link to watch their presentation.

Zeppetella started the company after slipping while at work and falling. While his harness caught him, the jacket gathered up around his neck, creating a choking hazard,” he said.

“Zeppsgear’s jackets allow for safety harnesses to be worn underneath without a risk of choking in the event of a fall.”

The 40-minute pitch demonstrated the effectiveness of the gear with a surprise dummy drop from the studio ceiling, catching the Dragons off-guard.

“We’ve had opportunities from investors before, so it was more about the Dragons’ expertise rather than the money for us,” Courtney Zeppetella said. “We knew that it would be a good kick-start on the marketing side and that some of the individuals on the panel would be able to help us wanting to regulate or mandate the product.”

Website traffic spiked for the company soon after the episode aired Oct. 5, and the women’s line sold out quickly.

“We got orders, which was great, but we also had wholesalers and distributors reaching out to us, especially for the women’s side because it’s hard to find good quality women’s workwear,” she said. “We’ve been really focused on the southern part of Ontario, but now we have a lot of people from out west reaching out, and we have a fashion show coming up in B.C. for safety wear for women.”

Cecily has grown more involved in the family business over the past few years, looking at how Zeppsgear might be mandated and thinking creatively about how to get her father’s innovations into broad use.

She says community involvement should be a big part of any entrepreneurial journey and continues to connect Zeppsgear with different organizations, charities and safety training programs, and has jumped at opportunities to engage, including at Brock.

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