Ed Saunders, Director of Marketing, discusses how STX will make its mark in the ice hockey arena
STX, a global sporting goods leader in lacrosse, field hockey and golf, announced its expansion into the ice hockey market last summer. The ice hockey gear, set to hit shelves for the 2014 season, has fueled major growth at STX. We sat down with Ed Saunders, Director of Marketing, to discuss how STX will make its mark in the ice hockey arena.
Q. What research did STX conduct before moving into the new product line?
STX took a deliberate look at the opportunities available and what would be the best fit for expanding our line. We started looking at ice hockey by conducting heavy amounts of field research in the U.S. and Canada. We found an overwhelming amount of support from hockey players of all abilities during testing. Their enthusiasm for the product was very encouraging. Players were excited about the prospect of another company entering the space to bring new thinking to the equipment.
Q. What is STX doing to make its ice hockey equipment stand out to retailers and athletes?
We?re most interested in getting out in the field listening to retailers, consumers, and everyone connected to the game of ice hockey. Our goal is to translate what we learn into the best possible products that exceed the demands of everyone playing the game. Whether you?re in the NHL or just play for the love of the game, we want to provide equipment to help perform at the highest level.
STX has a long history of creating truly revolutionary and high performing protective equipment. We were mentioned in The New York Times? Innovation Issue for the modern day lacrosse head and we plan to bring similar new thinking to ice hockey.
Q. STX recently announced a round of deals with major players in the hockey industry including USA Hockey and NHL star Matt Moulson. How critical are these partnerships to your movement into ice hockey?
These partnerships poise STX for a long future with the NHL and USA Hockey. As an official equipment supplier of USA Hockey, members of the national teams including the National Team Development Program and the US Olympic Teams will be equipped with our products and continue to provide their insight.
Partnering with Matt as the face of STX hockey solidifies our position as a serious player in the industry. He is one of the most prolific NHL goal scorers in recent years. Prior to being traded to the Sabres, Matt topped the 30-goal mark in each of his first three seasons with the NY Islanders and ended last season in the top 25 for points for the second straight year. Having his elite input is essential to help design and develop equipment that exceeds player expectations.
We also recently signed with Olympic athlete Hilary Knight. Her deep involvement in the testing and development of the equipment will help us identify and reach female hockey players.
Q. How has the ice hockey line impacted STX so far?
As STX makes major advances in our reach, partnering with athletes on a national and international level allows us to increase our global presence and brand recognition. Hockey gives us access to international markets and broader consumer recognition in areas where lacrosse is not as well known.
Since announcing the launch, there has been rapid business growth including an expansion of our office headquarters and hiring push fueled by the product line. New office space was added and upgrades to the distribution center were made to accommodate an increase in volume.
Q. What are STX?s next steps as you prepare to launch the ice hockey line next year?
With the hockey line launching in April, we are continuing to get out in front of youth and elite hockey players to gain exposure and promote the new products.
We?re developing an exclusive Hockey Combine this August in conjunction with 200x85, an ice hockey experience company. The combine is designed to help the top U14 hockey athletes in the country advance their hockey and training skills. During three days of combine testing, on and off ice training, team competitions and seminars, the program will connect elite players with top coaches and recruiters. The free, invite-only event will be the annual first look at the future of hockey, building the core for future top players who are just four years out from their draft season.
Q. Where can consumers go to get more information about the line?
They can visit our website at http://www.stx.com/hockey/ and sign-up to get more information when our full site launches April 1st.