Bamboo makes better baseball bats and drumsticks too!  Famed drummer extraordinaire, Pentti Whitey Glan, shows this on the Junglewood website. Junglewood owner Robert Cook told me Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman uses their namesake “Whitey Glan” drumstick when keeping beat for fellow band members in local group, Sonic Coalition.

When asked why Junglewood chose to locate their startup in Barrie, Robert Cook enthusiastically responds – “Barrie is going through some awesome changes, different companies popping up, I like the feel of it. The city has offered us opportunity. Its progressive, willing to get behind new companies and ideas and push them a little bit, we’ve experienced that. It’s also growing and close to the markets in Toronto.”

“Chris Adams is our mentor at the Henry Bernick Centre. He helped us streamline our products and came up with good ideas. We did the 3 minute elevator pitch and met with Angel Investors, I’ve never been face to face with investors, and it was a good experience. I’m pretty particular about who invests with us and pretty cautious, you’ve got to be careful about how much of your soul you want to sell.”

The inspiration to explore production possibilities of the environmentally friendly product that is bamboo literally appeared by accident. Robert shared that during his time of healing after a severe automobile injury, life took a serendipitous turn. It took a car accident to “get him out of a rut.” Reading an article about bamboo was the turning point that set this adventuresome entrepreneur exploring jungles while developing connections in Nicaragua, Ecuador and China.

With his background in construction, the benefits of bamboo were clear – environmental sustainability combined with its physical properties: tensile strength equal to steel, high compressive strength plus a growth rate that far surpasses traditional hardwood forests.  Robert was keen to move into production.

Bamboo is an exceptional green product.

With 1500 types of bamboo, Junglewood will constantly be in the research and development stage, and that is just fine with Robert Cook.

Ingenuity is integral at Junglewood. Baseball bats were the first product designed, the unused corner pieces became drumsticks when a Music Pro drummer pal suggested the material lent itself to this use. Robert explained that maple sticks have a muddy sound whereas bamboo drumsticks are clearer. Also there is low vibration in hand; they are lively on the drums with nice tone on the cymbals and better longevity.

Junglewood baseball bats met with approval of Michael Crouse, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays, presently a member of the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

With complete confidence Robert Cook states, “We can make a better hockey stick, Bobby Orr’s agent tried it, no vibration on a hard shot or a hard pass.”

Junglewood best sellers include sunglasses that float and can be fitted with prescription lenses, and the aforementioned drumsticks.  Products are available online, locally at Source for Sports in Orillia and trade shows. Sales of sunglasses soared at the WayHome concert at Burls Creek.

When I asked what success means, Robert Cook shared: “When you get into something you feel passionate about and you see things developing, working with likeminded people. Justin is the creative; we think the same and are concerned about the environment. Jorge puts his head down and is very helpful. I’ve met incredible people on the bamboo trail; I’ve probably had the best time of my life. Success is making you feel alive and enjoying your day!”

Junglewood is determined to give back, with donations from each sale made to the Wildlife Conservation Society.  and to the Special Olympics in honour of Carl Cook, Robert’s brother.

As I arrived at the Ferndale Drive address, which Junglewood shares with Resonance Ltd. for my interview with Owner Robert Cook, Shop Lead Justin Fudge and Jorge Carrera, Sales and Marketing, the three men paused to show me their pride and joy, a beautiful bamboo bicycle mounted at their office entrance.  Robert announced the interview would be incomplete unless I took a spin on said bike.  When he unbolted the display model, all three escorted me outside for a spin; I knew it was game on.

What a privilege!

With solid frame and stunning appearance, my ride was a symbolic journey – Junglewood has travelled far to bring bamboo to Barrie and we are better for it.