(11/14/12) - It could soon find a home at an ice rink in your town - and it's already making its way overseas.
Marc Jacobson shows us a new product that's using the latest in technological advancements, as our Made in Michigan series continues.
It's a 10,000 pound machine that could revolutionize hockey rinks across America, and across the globe. It might look a bit like a Zamboni, but it's not. We're talking about the Icecat, and it's being made right here in Mid-Michigan.
"The tag line we're using is 'styles like a sportscar, shaves like a razor.' We like to look at it as the Corvette of the ice resurfacing industry," said Laurie Moncrieff, CEO of Adaptive Manufacturing Solutions.
Except for the small sign outside, you'd never know the Icecat was being made inside a 21,000 square foot factory in Burton. The warehouse is the home of Adaptive Manufacturing Solutions, a third generation company formerly known as Schmald Tool and Die. It's now being run by the founder's granddaughter, Laurie Moncrieff.
We asked if people believe Moncrieff when they tell them what they're doing.
"I carry pictures. I carry pictures," she said. "Sometimes pictures speak 1,000 words."
While most Zambonis run on propane, the Icecat runs on battery - meaning no fuel costs, no dangerous greenhouse emissions, and arenas can go without the cost of maintaining expensive ventilation systems. An Icecat sells for around $140,000, as opposed to the Zamboni, which can cost as much as $200,000.
Moncrieff believes it's better than a Zamboni.
"We think it can be the Kleenex, so to speak, for ice resurfacing. It's an ice resurfacer. We want to replace the common name with Icecat," she said.
Each Icecat takes between four to eight weeks to build, but production time is expected to be cut down to just two weeks.
"We've already sent one to France, we've already shipped one to Russia, and there is a rink looking at one in Canada. We've had discussions with several universities," Moncrieff said.
here were potentially some big plans falling into this place for one Icecat in particular. The hope was to roll it out in Ann Arbor at the Big House on New Year's Day for the Winter Classic, but the NHL Lockout got in the way of that.
"There will be another Winter Classic. If nothing else, it gave us more time to get ramped up. We just started building the first ones this year. We'll get there," Moncrieff said.
That delay is giving AMS time to try and make the Icecat not just as American made as possible, but as Michigan made as possible.
"We're talking to a company that could potentially make the side panels in Michigan. We've got an electronics company near Sterling Heights. Tires, we're buying locally," Moncrieff said.
And Icecat production is providing jobs. AMS now employees 18 people, and that number is expected to go up. As far as future growth, Moncrieff has been beating the drum in Washington for help with the Icecat and other related projects.
"I have had six White House meetings since October. I have met with several foreign governments, and I'm working with the department of defense. Washington is very interested and eager to get started on some things moving forward," Moncrieff said.
The hope is that the Icecat, along with other projects at AMS, will not only help spark Michigan's economy, but spark its workforce as well.
"I believe the way to excite kids and to get them interested in STEM is to have the ability to introduce them to some really cool products that they can have a part in rolling out on the market," Moncrieff said.
Moncrieff says she wouldn't mind seeing the Icecat working hard at Joe Louis Arena some day, but that could still be a few years away.
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