That’s something Janes, co-founder of StartupNL, has perfected in his business endeavours. He enjoys looking for niche products or niche problems that can be solved and applying a Newfoundland focus to that solution whenever possible.
His latest venture, making wooden barbecue scrapers, came out of something he loves to do. Grill it, smoke, you name it, Janes does it on one of his many barbecues.
Of late he’s become concerned with keeping those grills clean.
Health Canada and surgeons around the country have warned people about the dangers of using steel-bristled brushes to clean grills. The bristles can come off and be swallowed with food. Ingested bristles can be hard to find, can cause a variety of medical issues and require surgery to remove them.
That was enough for Janes to stop using them.
“If you have one, throw it out. Don’t even think of using it one more time, just throw it in the garbage,” he said.
In looking for an alternative, Janes came up empty. He said there are probably other options on the market, but nothing local or made from a local product.
So it was off to his garage over the weekend to figure something out. He picked up some wood, set up a jig and made a prototype. Over the past few days he’s turned out about 100 scrapers. Once they are sanded and cleaned they’ll be treated with mineral oil.
Janes’ dad, Bern Janes, of Deer Lake, has helped with the production. The senior Janes has a permit to cut juniper and has a sawmill, so the pair can harvest and mill the trees themselves, making it a truly local product from start to finish.
Janes announced his new product through social media on Tuesday and already his sales have surpassed the product on hand. He’s gotten orders from all over Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean.
While a little overwhelmed by the response, Janes is having fun with it.
“I don’t think of business as work. I think of it as having some fun and enjoying what I do.”
He said the scrapers are just another little piece of Newfoundland that people can have hanging by their barbecues whether they live here or not.
Juniper has a long history in Newfoundland and was once used as railway ties. It’s a hard, long-lasting product.
As you scrape across the barbecue, Jason Janes says, ridges form in the scraper to match your grill. “Every single scraper becomes a personal scraper to that grill, it carries that grill’s identity in the shape that it forms.”
Softer products will wear out quicker.
When to scrape
Janes says the decision of when to scrape a barbecue grill can be a question of “science or religion.”
“Every way you approach that you’ll find someone that will argue black and white on that topic.”
He always scrapes his barbecue when it’s cold to remove the larger stuck-together chunks that may fall down.
He also re-scrapes whenever he heats his barbecue to make sure any loosened particles will fall away.
How to care for a juniper barbecue scraper
Janes advises people to treat their scraper just like they would their favourite cutting board.
Wash it when necessary, but don’t soak it in water. Treat it with mineral oil or whatever oil you use on your cutting board.
Where to get a juniper barbecue scraper