COVID-19 has forced many Calgarians to make big changes in their career direction.
For a group of three longtime friends, it’s a pandemic pivot with all the pieces falling into place.
The men work together at StumpCraft, a Calgary company that creates laser-cut wooden puzzles.
“We work with a variety of Canadian artists and what I do is design puzzles and patterns that reflect the theme of their art,” said Jasen Robillard of StumpCraft. “So I’ll include whimsical people, animals, objects, and symbols that relate to that topic.”
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Puzzle-making marks a major change in Robillard’s career.
“Before doing the puzzles, I was an environmental engineer and I worked in the oil field,” Robillard said. “I was a huge puzzle fan and thought I’d throw my hat in the ring.”
Robillard’s old friend, Cory Krygier, also tipped his hat.
“I used to be a partner in a home construction company and as soon as the pandemic hit, it basically shut us down,” Krygier said.
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“It was the perfect time to jump into this.”
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The company has enjoyed growing demand as puzzles have taken off during the global pandemic.
“We are going to send one to Switzerland later today,” Krygier said.
“We have sent them to the United Arab Emirates, we have been sending them to Australia, all over the world.”
Doing puzzles is also a big change for the third member of the team, James Lee.
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“I’m trained as a geologist and I’ve had a 20-year career in oil and gas, (but) I was laid off almost a year ago,” Lee said. “When this opportunity arose, I took it.”
Lee and his colleagues are also seizing the opportunity to promote mental health, donating puzzles to nurses and families with sick children staying at Ronald McDonald Houses.
“Being able to provide something that can bring some joy to someone who is going through a difficult time, I think it’s a great idea,” Lee said.
StumpCraft has created 20 different wooden puzzles so far.
“The full range ranges from just over 100 pieces to about 900 pieces,” Robillard said.
The three men enjoy rebuilding a bright future, as Lee with a smile: “A friend of mine calls me the puzzle.”
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