Kamloops-area board game inventor sees creation hit shelves nearly 40 years later

Local board game hits stores

A quiet night shift nearly 40 years ago was the beginning of a quest that has now seen a Kamloops-area heavy equipment operator’s board game idea go from inception to store shelves.

Ken Flett, now semi-retired in Cache Creek, said he first came up with the idea for his board game Contractor while operating a bulldozer on the Coquihalla Highway in 1986.

He said he felt the ups and downs of the construction industry were an ideal premise for a board game.

“There’s mechanical repairs, fuel bills, weather and workday hazards, and the contractor that makes the most money at the end of the game — he’s the one that wins,” Flett said.

“There's employees — one of them's called Inefficient Ike, he'll lose your money. And the other one's called Production Pete, he'll make you money. I think every construction company in the world has those two fellows on their crew.”

Came from love of board games

Flett said the game is somewhat modelled after Monopoly, a classic he grew up playing with his family.

He said he has long had an interest in board games.

“Because I was the youngest of a family of eight and my sisters and brother played them, and then they all went to school and I'd be home alone,” he said.

“Then I’d be playing them and I'd have one marker for my mom and one for the dog and one for the cat and one for me."

Flett said the game is 10 per cent Monopoly and 90 per cent his own invention.

Game had been 'on back burner'

He spent two years tweaking, developing and play-testing the game with friends and family before initially having 1,000 copies manufactured in 1988.

“I managed to sell a few even though it was after Christmas, and then I gave 600 of them to a distributor who promptly shortly thereafter went broke and I never saw them again or received any money for them or recovered any of the games,” Flett said.

“I had eight mouths to feed then so I had to get a job that paid money, so I I just kept working at construction and it's been on the back burner for all these years.”

In 2023, Flett said he had the game’s appearance updated and had another 2,000 copies manufactured.

The game is now available in 23 stores across Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C., including in Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops. It's also available for purchase online.

The game is recommended for ages eight and up and can be played between two to six players.

Flett said he’s hoping find a major distributor to get the game into more stores.

More Kamloops News