Our Story

Father-son inventors helping United Way this season

CALGARY, ALBERTA, December 14, 2007 - Shell employee Paul Collin and his 14-year-old son, Tanner, are executing the father-son project that many a parent might dream about: inventing, producing and bringing a product to toy-store shelves. The construction kit "Octorods" will be on sale Dec. 19 and 20 at Shell Centre (full details below), with half of the proceeds going to the United Way.

"Tanner owns 49 per cent of the company. He's Vice President," says Calgary-based Paul, a North American Export Financial Representative. "He's come to all the meetings, when possible, to discuss marketing and manufacturing details. He came up with the name 'Octorod.'"

Paul and Tanner conceived the product one evening more than four years ago while playing Lego together. The goal of inventing and bringing a product to market had always been on Paul's "fridge list" and he thought it would be a great father-son project and a fantastic learning experience for Tanner.

"We chose to invent a toy because Tanner was nine at the time and it was something he could get excited about. So, I proposed the idea of a plastic connector to help stabilize a house of cards and Tanner says, 'Hey, that's cool!'"

Octorods are small plastic pieces with eight "arms" that wedge together to hold up to four cards, photos or anything of similar weight and thickness. They are used to stabilize elaborate card structures that would otherwise topple over.

The first father-son challenge was finding a material to build Octorods. Coincidentally, the PVC plastic chosen to "extrude," or make, the Octorods comes from Shell petroleum and the foam insert for packaging comes from a Shell product called styrene monomer.

"With all the toy recalls out there right now, it is great to be able to tell people our product is made in Canada (actually in Edmonton) from Shell Canada petroleum products. That puts a parent's mind at ease," says Paul.

Octorods are marketed as construction toys for kids aged eight to 88, but several young female buyers have popped up on the Internet, presumably to construct 3-D photomontages. The kits come with 60 construction pieces and one deck of custom Octorod cards.

"One of Tanner's projects is managing the Octorod website, www.octorod.com. He loads new pictures and makes updates," says Paul. "He is also great at building structures for toy trade shows and exhibits."

Octorod card construction kits will be on sale in the Shell Centre Lobby on Dec. 19 and 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Kits will cost $10 (they retail for $15) and $5 from each sale will be donated to the United Way.

"The best part about this project is the satisfaction of following through on such a big commitment to my son," says Paul. "Whenever one sells, we feel good for accomplishing our goal."