St. Joseph Island

Homeowner Turned Entrepreneur

Homeowner Turned Entrepreneur
A home purchase on St. Joseph Island indirectly evolved into a new business venture for one local couple. 

Bill Betournay and his wife, Viktoria, purchased a home on St. Joseph Island in 2013. The home was heated using an oil furnace, so in an attempt to reduce the cost Bill started researching and exploring the possibility of using biodiesel instead of conventional heating oil.  First a small batch, then a large batch, and soon the Betournays were using 100% biodiesel in their existing oil furnace. Their success with using biodiesel eventually led to building a processor in the garage.  

Bill completed endless research online, experimenting with and testing variations of a non-toxic, all natural, vegetable based oil. He discovered that he could make safe, environmentally friendly biolubricants that actually worked better than many of the petroleum based products currently on the market. With his research, he also learned that there weren’t really any products like this available commercially.

The Stufff brand of environmentally friendly lubricants was born. Stufff products are made from a minimum of 90% vegetable oil. Currently, the oil is sourced locally. Bill has an oil route and collects used fryer oil from restaurants every day. The stufff.ca tag line reads, “As harmful to you and the environment as the salad you ate at lunch while providing superior results”. Bill says, “This is what makes Stufff products popular with mechanics, tow truck drivers and anyone who is up to their elbows in it on a daily basis”.  

With the help of the Innovation Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Bill’s dream of bring his product to market became a reality in January of 2015. The Innovation Centre helped secure funding which enabled Bill to get his first four products, Shop Stufff, Lube Stufff, and Gun Stufff, and Chain & Cable Stufff packaged and into stores locally.

Gun Stufff is a low odour cleaner/lubricant designed for gun owners.
Gun Stufff is a low odour cleaner/lubricant designed for gun owners.

The Stufff.ca lubricants are now available at Kentvale Home Hardware, Kents Korner and the Echo Bay Co-op. The Maslack chain picked up the Stufff line and now carries it in all 14 of its Northern Ontario retail outlets. Beta Fluid Power in Sault Ste. Marie and Kal Tire Longlac also sell these products.

Bill and Viktoria admit that doing everything by themselves is a bit crazy at times, while still working regular day jobs. Bill is responsible for the research and development, manufacturing and packaging of the stufff product line, while Viktoria handles the marketing and sales. 

Bill says, “I’m impatient, so growing the company slowly is hard for me, I see how great the product is and how well it performs, so I expect to see it take off right away”. The next phase of the business development will be working with the Innovation Centre on marketing; preparing to take the next step and get the Stufff product line on shelves at large retail chains.

Homeowner Turned Entrepreneur
photo supplied
Bill attributes their success so far to the fact that the product works well and people have been spreading the word. For example, “Greg Gilbertson collects old vehicles and tractors; many of them found seized up. When he uses our shop stufff and lets it sit in the motor for a bit, he can get a lot of them running.  Now he buys it by the case”. Check out the photo gallery of Greg’s tractors and stufff products here.

Bill has generated a long list of related products, which he’d eventually like to get to market too, but for now he’s just focused on the first few and getting them established. The Innovation Centre has also helped to generate a patent on Stufff products and the process used to make it, so it is officially “Patent Pending” at this time.