Two Grosse Pointers--one a professional hockey employee--are preparing to open a specialized hockey services and goods store in Grosse Pointe Woods later this month.
Opening May 23, Precision Blades is the brainchild of Paul Boyer and Tom Gebeck Jr. Boyer is the head equipment manager for the Detroit Red Wings and president of the Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers. Gebeck, Jr., is an orthodontist practicing in Birmingham who is the son of longtime Grosse Pointe orthodontist Tom Gebeck, Sr.
The store, located at 20741 Mack Ave., the former location of Lou’s Pet Shop, will offer a variety of services designed to provide hockey players with superlative training and equipment maintenance. Passersby likely noticed the new sign already adorning the storefront.
According to the new business partners, their membership as a Maximum Edge store will allow them to offer a patented finish process and profiling system. The finish process consists of treating the runner (the steel blade) once it’s been sharpened on the wheel, while profiling entails shaping the blade so that a player has a defined contact surface on the ice.
Boyer, Gebeck, and two other technicians working for Precision Blades have been trained in the process under the tutelage of Maximum Edge founder Bob Allen of Windsor, Ontario. According to Boyer, Maximum Edge not only enhances performances but decreases the chance of injuries and accidents caused by uneven blades.
The store will also offer mouth guards, including custom made upper bite guards as well as Step Steel replacement runners. As typical runners are sharpened over time, their height is diminished and the profile of the blade is compromised, Boyer said, creating an undo amount of stress on the lower back and groin. Step Steel blades have a higher profile than those made by most other manufactures and are fabricated from a higher quality of steel, which allows for superior sharpening and profiling. Boyer said the vast majority of Red Wings use Step Steel.
Additionally, Precision Blades will have a Fresh Gear equipment sanitizing machine, which is used to kill the bacteria on anything that makes contact with the skin by infusing it with Ozone over a period of time in a specialized sealed cabinet. Suitable for use on all types of sporting equipment, household fabrics, and even stuffed animals, the machine not only eliminates the unpleasant smell but kills the culprit, they said.
This treatment is important, Gebeck said, because bacterial infections such as Staph and MRSA can develop when skin abraded during play is exposed to equipment harboring the bacteria. The service is ideal for students with school-assigned equipment that has been used repeatedly over the years by numerous athletes.
Finally, store will feature a 16-feet by 40-feet sheet of UHMW (ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene) plastic, or “synthetic ice.” Boyer likens it to an “indoor putting green for hockey,” as it will be surrounded by professional-style boards and glass and can be used for players to work on face offs, wrist shots, slap shots, edge work, checking, goalie skills, and other techniques.
Boyer and Gebeck plan to rent the “ice” to freelance instructors who want to offer clinics. The plastic can be buffed to be as close as possible to natural ice, or modified to provide resistance to increase strength. The store also plans to offer learn-to-skate programs for kindergarteners so they can learn the basics of skating without the cost of rink time.
Precision Blades will also offer hockey-specific off-season and in-season conditioning programs. There is a program for players ages 5 to 9 designed to stimulate the nervous system through teaching a proper dynamic warm up and the development of reaction time and coordination. The goal, Gebeck said, “is to train the junior athlete’s mind and body to work together.”
Another program is provided for players ages 9 to 12 that focuses on multi-task strength and agility training. Athletes 12 years and older will train to increase strength with agility, says Gebeck.
The instructor, Grosse Pointe Woods resident Dan Fooks, has a degree in kinesiology and health and sports studies, with a physical education teacher’s certification K-12, as well as extensive coaching experience. The first round of programs will run from June through August and will entail a package of 18 one-hour sessions.
Gebeck and Boyer, whose kids are Gebeck’s patients, began the enterprise a year ago after realizing they had both individually perceived a need in the market for Precision Blades’ services. Boyer had long wanted to open a hockey service center, and Gebeck had grown dissatisfied with the options available locally for hockey skill development and the inconsistency he was experiencing with sharpening.
Gebeck says the services offered by Precision Blades will “give our local athletes the opportunity to develop the skills and establish the proper foundation to maximize their enjoyment of the greatest sport on earth. ”
They considered several locations but chose Grosse Pointe “because we live here and we want to see local youth and adult players succeed.” The store structure was ideal, they said, and boasts 20 free parking spots in back.
The owners say they’ve already reached out to community hockey programs to get players interested in the store. Weekly specials and discounts on services will be offered exclusively through the store’s Facebook page.