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Originally posted at https://www.thespec.com/news/hamilton-region/2020/11/05/oh-what-fun-hamilton-manufacturer-gives-back-with-recycled-plastic-toboggans.html

By Kate McCullough Spectator Reporter
Thu., Nov. 5, 2020. – 3 min. read

Candy-cane-striped is just one of the many colour schemes for Maljohn Plastics’ toboggans, which are being sold as a holiday fundraiser.

“We really have been making them a long, long time just for friends and people we know,” said Malcolm Johnson, owner of the Binbrook-area company that has manufactured impact- and abrasion-resistant plastics for more than 40 years. “I remember taking my kids to the Hamilton Golf Club … and sliding down the hill.”

Malcolm Johnson demonstrates how since the toboggans are not heat-set they can be flattened for easier transport and storage.

Malcolm Johnson demonstrates how since the toboggans are not heat-set they can be flattened for easier transport and storage.  CATHIE COWARD

The toboggans are made out of recycled plastic — scraps from spouts, chutes, funnels and component parts for conveyors, elevators and other machinery — and are being sold as a holiday fundraiser.

“This material, you can literally hit it with a sledgehammer at 70, 80 degrees below zero,” he said. “It won’t break.”

Johnson said they started making the winter toys decades ago as thank-you gifts for customers and suppliers in place of the traditional “bottle of booze.”

“I have customers and friends and suppliers that are using the toboggan 35 years later with their grandchildren,” he said.

Maljohn Plastics Creates Toboggans for Charity

But this is the first year the company is selling these “high-end” sleds — $99 for a five-foot toboggan and a four-foot for $83 — with the 100 per cent of the proceeds going to local and Canadian charities, including Ronald McDonald House, Childhood Cancer, the Good Samaritan and Hamilton’s Welcome Inn Community Centre.

The goal is to raise between $50,000 and $100,000.

“It’s a lifeline for us to keep going,” said Jamie VanderBerg, executive director of Welcome Inn.

Like many Hamilton organizations, Welcome Inn has seen the impacts of the pandemic. The organization was forced to move its annual fall fundraiser online, but the response wasn’t the same.

A stack of future toboggans made by Maljohn Plastics.

A portion — upwards of $10,000 — of the toboggan sales will go to the Hamilton non-profit.

“For us, that’s a significant amount of money,” he said. “Welcome Inn is a small organization. It does a lot with the staff that we have.”

The initiative is a fundraiser and social enterprise project in one — sleds will be sold to raise money for local charities and will provide income for those out of work or otherwise displaced amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Different community members are able to be paid to assemble these toboggans in fairly simple ways,” VanderBerg said.

A number of the organization’s community members are participating in the project.

“For us, it’s a win-win,” VanderBerg said.

The sleds are being manufactured by what Johnson has dubbed the “Home Alone Team” — a group of nearly 20 people who are out of work or have been “displaced” by COVID-19 — who pick up prefab sled kits and take them home to assemble.

Malcolm Johnson, whose Binbrook-area company makes grain chutes for the transportation and transfer of crops both by train and by ship is selling toboggans made from the scrap the company creates and donating proceeds to local charities. They are employing folks who are out of work amid the pandemic to assemble them.

“These are people that are laid off at home without jobs that put them together with self-tapping screws,” Johnson said. “We supply them with a kit of seven different coloured strips and some crossbars and they make themselves a little money.”

The pay is $5 per toboggan, which can be assembled in about 10 minutes once you get the hang of it. The goal is to make and sell between 500 and 1,000, and Johnson said they’ve assembled more than 350 so far.

“I have a lady that comes back every few days and makes 20 toboggans, and she ends up getting $100,” he said.

Johnson said they are still working on writing a safety disclaimer for the toboggans now that they’re up for sale.

“These are very slippery, very low-coefficient-of-friction material,” he said.

In other words, they’re fast.

“They really do go wonderfully.”

The toboggans are available for purchase at Maljohn Plastics at 183 Hendershot Rd. in Hannon.

Kate McCullough is a Hamilton-based reporter at The Spectator. Reach her via email: kmccullough@thespec.com