Boler Manufacturing Co. begins operations 1963 - 1967
In 1963 Winnipeg inventor Raymond Olecko, an avid hunter and sportsman, created a unique fibreglass resin slingshot which he manufactured and sold world-wide through mail order magazines and newspaper ads. It began as a small home-based business in the basement of his Winnipeg home. He called it the Boler Manufacturing Co.
The Boler Slingshot was Olecko's very first design and marketable invention. Slingshots were still very popular in the 1960s with companies like Wammo selling them and distributing them
worldwide. But Olecko’s slingshot design was a brand new introduction to the market. Rather than making it from a standard wood material, Olecko decided to make his slingshot out of a fibreglass resin epoxy material instead. He would also give it an ergonomic design and shape to comfortably fit the hands of the user. One could order a left -hand model, or a right-hand model. This was quite exciting and revolutionary to the sportsman marketplace and it made Olecko’s slingshot wildly popular.
The very earliest known advertisement that Olecko publically placed for his Boler Slingshot appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper on July 20th, 1963 on page 49. The ad hailed, “Most fantastic slingshot ever designed, powerful rubber bands shoot half ounce slug through quarter inch plywood.” It sold for $3.95. Following a year of filling orders worldwide, Olecko then filed a patent for his Boler slingshot in July of 1964 to protect his winning design.
In 1966 Olecko found himself working for a company called Structural Glass Ltd., a Winnipeg company which started operations in 1961 and manufactured septic tanks. While employed there, Olecko came up with the idea for a unique fibreglass septic tank design which he patented in 1966 and it was assigned exclusively to Structural Glass Ltd. It was there at Structural Glass in early 1968 while making septic tanks that Olecko first got the idea for a travel trailer. While working there he met a fibreglass mould maker named Sandor Dusa. Olecko asked Dusa to help him build a four-berth travel trailer for his own family to use.
"I wanted a small trailer that had some of the comforts of home; a fridge, stove and sink, plus some cupboard space he said. So with Dusa’s help and with precise calculations and measurements, they first built a wooden mock- up of the trailer and later a fibreglass prototype. "When we had completed it after three months”, said Olecko, "I saw that we had a unique unit which would appeal to the small family and small car owner. At this point we decided to go into production."
Seeing what they believed to be a good investment, the two Winnipeggers then mortgaged their homes and made bank loans to raise $5, 000 in order to start their new and unique travel trailer manufacturing business.
In June of 1968 Olecko and Dusa set up a small 4,000 sq. ft. plant on Higgins Avenue in Winnipeg and went into production. Olecko headed the company as its President with Dusa as Vice President, both were working partners. With a total of eight employees they eventually began to turn out about three units per week in the first year. Olecko explained that part of the process of making the Boler trailer involved layers of fibreglass material being molded together with plastic resin in a large bathtub- shaped mould. During this process the trailer's exterior paint job is built into the fibreglass. Fibreglass, said Olecko, has four times the strength of steel of the same weight. It also makes the unit light 800 pounds or about half the weight of a comparably-sized trailer. It’s practically unbreakable, leak- proof, and, because it's fabricated as a single unit, will not loosen up, he explained.
He added that after about four hours the fibreglass is lifted from the mould to form the top half of the trailer. A similarly- shaped mould, with the addition of wheel wells, is made for the bottom half. The two halves are bonded together and the door and window areas cut out. With the cabin of the trailer completed it is placed on a steel chassis and the interior is fitted out. Olecko believed the trailer would not only appeal to the small average-income family or small car owner, but will become popular as well with, hunters and fishermen, he an avid hunter. Most trailers he said are punched full of holes from tree branches when taken into the woodlands.
The demand for the trailers caused the company to quickly outgrow its premises on Higgins Avenue, so it took on another partner; a man named Erwin Krieg, and in November, 1969 moved its operations to larger premises of 8,000 square-feet (source: Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper archive) at 770 Dufferin Avenue (popular history stories on-line suggest the square footage was 30,000 square-feet which is debatable). From the new plant, with now 25 employees, Boler tripled production and produced approximately 1000+ bolers until 1973, plus fibreglass truck camper roofs which were used by local companies building truck campers.
"We're the only company in North America producing fibreglass trailers said Olecko.”There's been such a demand for the trailer that we can't hope to manufacture many more than those needed in our immediate market area. "We're now setting up several franchise manufacturers who will produce the trailers in both the United States and other parts of Canada”, he said.
(Source: Planet Bolerama RV Trailer Group compiled from various Canadian archived newspaper articles, publications and documents.)