Shannon Hulme got his first taste of construction in Haliburton County when he worked on the MNRF headquarters in Algonquin Highlands.

He started in the trade in 2000, beginning as a labourer, then a licensed carpenter, site supervisor, and clerk of works, or contract administration. He looked after three courthouse projects, 17 or 18 OPP forensics units, and four MNRF projects, including the one in the County in 2015.

Born and raised in southwestern Ontario, he met his American-born wife, Mary, when the two were doing a spartan race on a mountain in Quebec. She moved to Canada seven years ago from downtown Chicago.

They started a business called The Porch Doctor in 2017. And, two years ago in July, the couple and their children moved permanently to the Highlands.

They said their focus is on transforming outdoor spaces, primarily using premium waterproof deck coatings and custom aluminum railings. They specialize in a product called Flexstone. Shannon said it’s used on decks and flat roofs, porches, patios, balconies, sundecks, garage floors, pool decks, industrial floors, and wooden decks.

He noted it’s a seamless system with a 20-year warranty. As for the railings, Shannon said they come in four colours and have a 25-year warranty. They are also going to offer supply-only of PVC decking, fencing and railings. Next year, they will stock it.

Since finding Flexstone, Shannon, who’s become a certified installer, estimates they’ve done about 1,000 porches and balconies, and six multi-story apartment buildings. “Not just anybody can install.”

The couple think the Highlands – with its lakes and cottages – is a good home for what they are offering.

Shannon takes care of the construction, while Mary – who has a university degree in graphic design – does the sales and marketing. She is also on the board of Abbey Gardens.

They want to be part of the community. Mary said she joined the board two years ago because she wants to help make a difference. Shannon does some maintenance work onsite there. Their daughter works at the Hub.

The plan is to make their property on Hwy. 118, just down the road from Abbey Gardens, into a bit of a showroom. Shannon is in the process of building a deck. “Everybody driving by is going to see a built deck with what we’re offering.” He’s already built a 30 by 50-ft shop. The two plan to be at this year’s home show.

“Basically, we don’t have competition,” Shannon said. “We want to work with everybody. We’re trying to fit in. We’re a niche product.”

Mary added they would be an addition for a builder manufacturing a house. “It’s more of kind of finishing, but also fixing issues as well, for example if there’s a crack in a pool deck. So, it’s a solution and also an addition.”

As for their goals, Shannon said, “becoming a recognized brand up here that people trust and rely on, and providing new spaces for people to enjoy, and partnering with the local businesses to just provide something new.”

Mary added, “just integrate into the community, helping people boost their curb appeal… it could help sell a property, or just for them to enjoy themselves.”

Contact, 519-8594497,