ChossPile Hand Repair – Committed to making the best hand repair bars for climbers.
Based in Southern Ontario, ChossPile Hand Repair is committed to making the best hand repair bars for climbers. We caught up with ChossPile owner, Mike Smythe, and discussed secret ingredients, corporate behaviour and the challenges of running a small business.
Tells us a bit about yourself and how you got into climbing?
ChossPile Hand Repair: I’ve always spent a lot of time outdoors. I grew up on a horse farm in Caledon and every year would go on canoe and kayak trips with my family. I was four years old when I had my first experience with climbing, and it wasn’t a good one. My dad’s good friend Bill Goldie took him for his first climbing lesson at Rattlesnake Point; my mom, brother Andrew, and I tagged along to watch. While leading, Bill took a nasty fall, pulled out all his gear and hit the ground. He was pretty messed up and spent several weeks in the hospital recovering from his injuries. With my very first exposure to rock climbing ending up in the Milton Hospital emergency, I thought "no way, not doing that." 22 years later, my brother invited me to the check out some bouldering at The Guelph Grotto and I was hooked right away.
When did you come up with the idea to start Chosspile Hand Repair?
ChossPile Hand Repair: I came up with the idea for ChossPile Hand repair a few years ago. I spent a lot of time trying to find the best hand repair product that met my needs. I tried many different bars and creams and was never really satisfied – most were too greasy or had unnecessarily strong fragrances. Many of the products out there overdo it with ingredients that add colour or scents.
Is there anyone in particular that has been instrumental in helping you get started?
ChossPile Hand Repair: Actually yeah, a good friend of mine's wife was making her own as a little side business and marketing it to women. I checked out her product and felt like it was close to what I liked, but wasn’t quite there. After talking to her about her process and where see got the ingredients I thought "if she can do it, why couldn’t I?"
What’s in the bar?
ChossPile Hand Repair: Four simple ingredients: olive oil, beeswax, avocado butter and vitamin E oil.
ChossPile Hand Repair Bar
Did you create the recipe?
ChossPile Hand Repair: I did create the recipe. I did a lot of research and figured out what were the most important in ingredients. The rest was all trial and error or as Ricky would say, denial and error.
Where are Chosspile Hand Repair bars manufactured?
ChossPile Hand Repair: I make it all right here at my home in Orangeville, Ontario. I'm just 45 minutes from the Beaver Valley and two hours from Lion’s Head.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced with starting Chosspile Hand Repair?
ChossPile Hand Repair: The biggest challenge for me is just trying to find a balance between work and life. I still have a career and I try to be outside climbing as much as I can. Maybe one day ChossPile will pay the bills but right now it’s just fun to be a part of the climbing community here in Ontario.
Any plans to expand the product line?
ChossPile Hand Repair: I do have some fun T-Shirts for sale online, but there are no real plans to expand the product line. I know that some other companies market multiple products that are essentially the same thing, but I don’t feel that is fair to the consumer. I wouldn't feel right making a product called ChossPile Foot Balm or ChossPile Knuckle Repair; it would be essentially the same bar, but with a just a different name and different marketing. It’s a sneaky corporate move and ChossPile isn’t about that. I’m just a local climber trying to help fix other local climbers hands so we can all keep climbing.
ChossPile Hand Repair Bar
Any retailers that were particularly supportive when you were starting out?
ChossPile Hand Repair: The biggest retail supporter has been the man behind Boulderz – Andrew McBurney. He was the first to believe in the brand and made it available at Boulderz Dupont, followed by Boulderz Etobicoke after opening. Tyler Norton at Climber’s Rock has also been a big supporter. They were the second retailer. The biggest climber supporter has been Joe Skopec. That guy's stoke is through the roof. I’d almost call him ChossPile’s unofficial sponsored climber. Honourable mention has to go to Mike Penney. He’s helped me out a lot.
Where else can folks purchase Chosspile Hand Repair bars?