How Jamaican-born Zechariah Thomas, 21, is changing lives with 1st Black-owned NHL-recognized hockey stick brand

Abu Mubarik March 22, 2024
Thomas appears on Dragons' Den to pitch his hockey stick company Swift Hockey in 2023. Photo: Swift Hockey/

Zechariah Thomas, 21, is the founder of Swift Hockey, an NHL-certified hockey stick company based in Oshawa, Ont., that produces affordable sticks for those who can’t get sticks from most companies because they are too expensive.

Thomas grew up playing hockey, according to CBC Canada. He started playing at the age of 10 and even appeared in the Ontario Junior Hockey League during his late teens. Therefore, he had a fair idea of how the cost of a hockey stick worried parents who did not have money to buy one or replace one for their wards.

While his parents could afford him a hockey stick, others were less fortunate due to the high cost of the sticks. He would often assist by giving away many of his sticks to teammates when they broke.

This would influence him to create Swift Hockey to make hockey more accessible and affordable to people, especially those in Black communities. He founded Swift Hockey with $100,000 he earned through an e-commerce company he started when he was 18.

Initially, Thomas was skeptical about revealing that he was the one behind the company due to racism in the hockey industry. He didn’t know how people would react to a young Black man being a major player in an industry that is white-dominated.

“It’s hard to create a business,” Thomas told CBC Canada. “Especially a hockey-related business—at this scale—being a black entrepreneur selling to people who may not accept black people in the sport yet,” Thomas explained.

Nonetheless, his small team, made up of some current and old players, has been with him since he started the company in 2022. The ex-players and some, who double as business partners, were aware of Thomas’ reservations about revealing that Swift is a black-owned business.

After appearing on a segment on Dragons’ Den in September 2023 to pitch his product, Thomas had no choice but to emerge as the man behind the brand, despite his initial fears.

“It was really hard, honestly,” Thomas said. “This was a business I never wanted to put my face on; I was really scared that I wouldn’t be a business—II wouldn’t be able to sell hockey sticks if people knew it was a black-owned company in the hockey industry.”

On the other hand, hockey players, particularly black hockey players who loved the brand, showered him with love and support after his episode aired.

This eventually landed him a deal with fellow Jamaican Wes Hall. However, Thomas said money is not the overarching interest in his business.

“It’s not about the financials with this business. It’s not about making a million dollars,” Thomas said. “I really want to change the industry as it was something I was also affected by growing up.”

Thomas’ brand currently has a partnership with Team Jamaica, which was sealed in the summer of 2023; he supplies the Jamaican national team with hockey sticks and apparel.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 22, 2024


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