Apex Racing Skates manufactures high-performance speed skating boots out of carbon fiber. The company’s founder, Mathieu Turcotte, is a skater himself and wanted to make a product that was light and stiff and had all the qualities an athlete desires. His small business of five employees manufactures and sells these skates.
What compelled you to make custom molding a business?
I was doing this for myself as a hobby while finishing my studies, then thought there was enough demand. At first it was one of my personal projects; I was happy about what I came up with. Then, enough interest generated among my fellow athletes to the point that they wanted to try out the product. I ended up making those boots for them, which is when I realized I could make a living from this.
Did you always want to be a manufacturer and end user?
Yes. I thought I had something to bring even though I had to learn things about manufacturing. In school, I learned the basics of infusion and closed molding, which is why I use that technique mostly. For me, every day I’m constantly learning, just trying to come up with new ideas and staying ahead of what’s being done. I get new ideas by working with universities and reading industry magazines like Composites Manufacturing.
Your website mentions you have experience custom molding. What inspired you to do that?
I was inspired by the techniques and materials used in the orthotics and prosthetics industry, and everything just evolved to what it is now. I studied to be a technician working with prosthetics, which uses composites a lot. I learned how the foot can be contained to a hard shell that could walk in different ways to really help a user’s life. I applied that knowledge to the sport that I was practicing and decided to come up with a new product.
What are the challenges with being a small company?
The biggest challenge is simply trying to keep up with the base of the industry, finding the best products and trying to get knowledge of what’s new. Because I’m not from the composites industry specifically, absorbing that information is a little more difficult for me, but still very important. What keeps me surviving is always trying to develop new products, reaching the clients and making sure we understand exactly what their need is even as those needs constantly change. Working directly with our customers and establishing a relationship with them so they come back is how we’re always present and stay on top.