An artist in southern Alberta, Martin Reinhard spends much of his time creating wrought iron chandeliers, gateways or sculptures.
But the Stavely entrepreneur also makes something old-fashioned and practical - and that's why he's now a contender on the national hit show, Dragons' Den.
It's his rugged kindling maker, "Mr. QuickSplit" that took the "dragons" by storm. They put the device through its paces recently, after taping a Dragons' Den episode in Toronto.
The millionaires' hands-on use of the tool - as well as their financial response - will be part of the show Wednesday, 8 p.m. on CBC Television. As part of the show, successful Canadian business owners like Jim Treliving (founder of Boston Pizza) decide whether to invest some of their own money in promising business ideas.
Reinhard can't yet disclose financial details or their reaction to his pitch for backing.
"They went crazy about it," he reports. "Finally, the crew had to chase us out of the studio because there were more people coming in."
Meanwhile, Reinhard is prepared to handle a sales surge after the show is broadcast.
The splitter, he explains, is based on a simple design from earlier times. Through the power of leverage, almost anyone can fracture firewood into the kindling needed to start a fire.
The European-trained master blacksmith says the device, readily mounted on a wall or a sturdy tree, was initially fashioned to help him get work started at his shop's forge.
"I have to start a fire every morning," and that requires kindling.
So do many Canadians with fireplaces or cabins, he reminded the "dragons." In fact, anybody who goes camping or wants to build a bonfire will need a supply of kindling.
"I've sold more than 500 over recent years," simply as a sideline. He's shipped them as far as the Yukon, New Brunswick and even Europe.
More details are available online at willowcreekforge.com
Here in southern Alberta, anyone can stop in at his Willow Creek Forge shop in Nanton. Visitors will also see a wide range of forge-based items, from lamps to fireplace screens, cabinet hardware and many styles of wrought iron decor items.
The artisan also works with interior designers, architects and other customers looking for one-of-a-kind items.
"A large part of my work is custom orders for ranches, businesses, hotels, restoration work, museums - and occasionally, movie sets," he adds.
Reinhard has been creating those for decades, after moving here from Switzerland in 1976 and subsequently opening his own business.
"At first I lived in Calgary and worked in the oilpatch," he says.
But Reinhard brought traditional blacksmithing skills to Canada, and he was ready to put them to use once again as the opportunity arose. Today, he's passing on some of that knowledge through a series of workshops and classes.
And it's not just artists and tradesmen who sign up for those sessions, he adds.
"I've had doctors, lawyers and pilots."
Recently, Reinhard says, he was contacted by a group of orthopedic surgeons - people who work with artificial hips and knees.
"They want to learn more about metals."