Sitting down with Al Huberts, you quickly realize he could entertain you for hours with stories of things he’s invented, books he’s written and companies he started and sold, including fashion companies Leeds International and Kolte Ltd.
He’s an entrepreneurial bloodhound, one that has been sniffing out the scent of big projects his whole life, having once held exclusive printing rights to Disney, Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera, Elvis, James Dean and Marilyn Munroe.
Initially people told him he was crazy to make ties with cartoon characters on them — Disney even tried talking him out of the idea at the time, but he pressed on and ultimately paid them millions in royalties due to the success of licensed products.
Fast forward to 2018.
Huberts now lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake, having sold his fashion business, but not quite settled down.
Along with his daughter, Huberts now runs a couple of businesses including Nature’s Aid, a natural health products company that sells to health and wellness retailers across Canada, including Simpson’s Pharmacy here in NOTL.
Huberts doesn’t think he will ever retire, as there are always new projects he wants to undertake.
And with his creative mind still turning, combined with an ability to entertain and educate, it shouldn’t surprise anyone he’s now tackling one of the most challenging industries out there — the board game industry.
Recognizing the level of interest in all things house related — as reflected in the number of shows on networks such as HGTV — Huberts saw an opportunity to design a new board game, one that would bring the excitement and challenges of house building to a format that family and friends would enjoy.
He has since teamed up with HGTV host Bryan Baeumler, who — along with his wife Sarah — is featured on HGTV’s Bryan Inc.
The two will be working together to launch the game, now called Build-iT With Bryan Step By Step.
The game plays similarly to Monopoly or Life in that it is a gathering game that relies on a combination of luck and strategy. The goal is to purchase the job pieces needed to complete a house, while encountering the challenges all home builders face.
However, unlike those other games, builders (players) can choose to roll one, two or three dice to move around the board, with the option to cut through the centre of the board.
With the combination of those options, Huberts said he’s managed to get the playtime down to an hour to an hour-and-a-half.
That is one of the key differences of Build-iT compared to other games, he said, which is important because in today’s world, nobody wants to play a game for hours on end, but quality family time playing a board game is something people still want — reflected in recent studies that show a surge in board game sales.
The educational elements of the game also teach players about the house building process and the importance of budgeting, since ‘builders’ have to follow real life procedures to get their project complete, while not going bankrupt.
Having Bryan on board adds an element of credibility to the game, which Huberts believes will be appreciated by those who play.
Huberts and Bryan will launch a Kickstarter campaign on July 2, where backers will have the opportunity to secure a copy of the game or a limited edition version.
Huberts is hoping to have a big first day and would love to have the support of anybody in town that would like a new and exciting family-friendly game.
For those interested in supporting his endeavour, head over to www.builditstepbystep.ca to view the game in more detail and to sign up to be notified of the July 2 Kickstarter launch.
If Huberts is successful, it wouldn’t be the first time a board game associated with Niagara took off.
Trivial Pursuit, another Niagara success story, took North America by storm when it was first released in 1981, selling more than 20 million games in 1984, and 88 million to date.
Build-iT With Bryan Step By Step offers family and friends the opportunity to set aside their personal devices and spend some important quality time with those they love and care about.
Visit builditstepbystep.ca to register to be notified when the Kickstarter campaign launches.