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Levelling up: Sask. couple pitches their idea for construction leveller on Dragons' Den

·3 min read
Geoff and Colette Heschel pitched their idea on the CBC TV show Dragons' Den. The episode featuring the Saskatchewan couple will air on Nov. 4.  (Dragons' Den/CBC - image credit)
Geoff and Colette Heschel pitched their idea on the CBC TV show Dragons' Den. The episode featuring the Saskatchewan couple will air on Nov. 4. (Dragons' Den/CBC - image credit)

If you've ever tried to build anything in Saskatchewan, you probably know shifting soil conditions can make keeping a project levelled challenging.

A Saskatchewan couple has stepped up to solve the problem — and they headed to Toronto this past summer to pitch their idea on CBC TV's Dragons' Den.

Their gadget is called "GH The Leveller." It's a threaded metal rod with two plates screwed into its top and bottom.

People taking on construction projects like decks, steps and patios can use the device to re-level their project and adjust the height, even after the ground shifts underneath it, its creators say.

Geoff Heschel, the business's co-owner, said presenting the product on the TV show — where entrepreneurs present their ideas to a group of business people in hopes of securing funding — felt amazing.

"It was just a surreal experience for us, and in the end very positive," he said.

The presentation

The pair kicked off their presentation to the "dragons" with music. After researching the show, they knew they had to bring entertainment value.

Heschel brought a guitar with him and started out by playing a short jingle about The Leveller.

The producers and the dragons loved it, he said.

He and his business partner and wife, Colette Heschel, then took turns talking about the product.

Dragons' Den/CBC
Dragons' Den/CBC

Once they'd finished their pitch, each of the dragons removed a cloth from a table close to them to examine their own Leveller. The product was also displayed on a deck in front of the judges afterwards.

Geoff Heschel said they were asked tough questions, but overall the experience was very positive.

He said the most nerve-racking part of the whole experience was giving their one-minute "elevator pitch" to the dragons. He described the experience as being similar to playing sports — you're nervous beforehand, but when you start playing, the nervousness melts away.

"Your game face comes on and the nerves go away, and you just focus on the task at hand," said Heschel.

The idea

Geoff came up with the idea for the product when he was trying to build a deck for his home back in 2012. He lives in Morse, in southwestern Saskatchewan, where the soil is like gumbo, he says. That's why he wanted to build a deck that could easily be adjusted if the soil underneath it shifted.

He tried to find something that could help him out, but couldn't find any products on the market he thought were good enough.

"They just looked cheap and flimsy, and esthetically they are quite ugly," he said.

Submitted by Colette and Geoff Heschel
Submitted by Colette and Geoff Heschel

He and his wife own GH Well Services Inc., which provides equipment to the oil and gas industry. Geoff created the first leveller using material from the company's shop in Morse, where they often do repair work on equipment.

He used it on his own deck, and found over the next couple of years, people kept asking where he got it.

When the oil industry crashed in 2016, his business saw 80 per cent of its sales dry up, and Geoff decided to try selling The Leveller.

After receiving a clear patent search, he and his wife started manufacturing the product in their shop in Morse. It's now manufactured in Manitoba and sold in about 160 stores across Canada.

The couple is sworn to secretary for now about how the pitch to the dragons went, so can't yet divulge the result.

That will be revealed when their episode of the show airs on Nov. 4, 2021.

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