Nine years after Sean Dubé’s SmartCap debuted on hardware store shelves across the country, the Sudbury entrepreneur is ready to launch his newest product, the SmartCap Pro, just in time for the spring renovation season.
The original product offers homeowners and contractors a solution to a long-standing conundrum. Inserted into the applicator on an open tube of caulking, the plastic cap creates an airtight seal, preventing the product from prematurely drying out and preserving the caulking for more than two years.
Support for the SmartCap remains strong – Dubé estimates between 100,000 and 150,000 are sold annually – and he believes his newest product, designed to be used for tubes of adhesive, could be an even bigger seller.
“Homeowners will only use a little bit of adhesive and then they’ll put it on their shelf, and by the time they even think about whether they have it again, or they want to use it again, it’s rock solid,” Dubé said. “It’s a waste of money and time.”
The new product includes a small cap and two spouts, to be used in conjunction with the original SmartCap.
If a user is going to continue to use an open tube of adhesive again in the near future, they can put a SmartCap in the tube to preserve it over the short term, Dubé said. But for long-term storage, users can cut off the tube’s applicator and screw in the red cap – that will keep the adhesive for two and a half years.
Once the user is ready to use the adhesive again, they can remove the cap, screw in one of the SmartCap Pro spouts and the tube is ready to go.
Because most tubes are standardized, Dubé said the cap and spouts fit about 99 per cent of the adhesive tubes on the market, noting, “I haven’t found a product that it won’t fit on yet.”
It’s a simple solution, but one Dubé said came to him from personal experience as a homeowner with a do-it-yourself approach to renovations. If he had this issue with adhesives, he reasoned, then someone else might, too, and the idea materialized from there.
“I’ve been in business for almost 27 years with my other companies, and I think I’ve always been destined to be an entrepreneur for myself,” said Dubé, who also runs Five Star Janitorial Service full time. “I think it just comes naturally.”
Like the SmartCap, its new cousin is manufactured in Canada – a point of pride for Dubé that’s evident in the small maple leaf adorning every package.
“I did check out pricing, packaging and manufacturing overseas,” said Dubé, who considered companies in China, Indonesia and India to do the work.
“The pricing was slightly less, but not worth the possible defects in a product when it arrived here. Imagine getting 100,000 packages here and the blister doesn’t stick to the card, or there’s a problem with it.”
Instead, the entire production cycle remains in Canada. Two companies in the London area manufacture the parts, while a third looks after the packing, assembling, boxing, warehousing, and shipping and receiving.
A Toronto-based distributor concentrates on getting the product into paint and plumbing stores, while a larger, East Coast-based distributor looks after big box stores. Dubé remains the main distributor for Home Depot and Canadian Tire stores around the country, and he also does all the administrative work.
He doesn’t rule out eventually branching out to the U.S. market, but that will require more work, changing the packaging and setting up a new distribution system.
Yet, if the SmartCap Pro is received as well as he’s expecting, that expansion may follow naturally.
The original product has been successful as an add-on purchase, and he’s been happy to see that, amongst competitors, his SmartCap has become the “go-to” brand of its kind for consumers.
“I think, if you’ve ever purchased a tube of adhesive and then you see this package, you’re going to know exactly what that’s for and why you need to buy it,” Dubé said.
“I think that this is going to be twice the volume than the original – just a prediction.”
The SmartCap Pro is currently available at a handful of Sudbury retailers, including Barrydowne Paint, Plumbing Warehouse, and the A&J and Walden Home Hardware stores.
Dubé said it will then be rolled out over the next two months at Canadian Tire and Rona stores across the country.