How long have you been expanding into that space?
BR: A few years. It’s actually something we’ve been building on, especially with Duffel’s new shoe, The Sophistic.
HM – It’s actually to a point where we’ve created a sub category that we are going to launch in the next catalog called The Recovery collection. It’s made for our pro skaters, who, after skating around New York City, want to walk around, and grab some food. We all know that vulcanized for comfort and support isn’t the best thing in the world and a chiropractor probably agrees. It’s so these guys can wear our stuff after they skate and it’s actually aimed towards recovery, resting your feet, and reflexology.
BR: Do you think Koston goes to Nike and complains that they make women’s equestrian boots? No, he’s probably going in asking for a pair for his wife.
As we start to grow as individuals, we start to create products that go along with our lifestyles and what we are into, whether it be music or whatever, and that reflects into other genres of shoes.
How’s everything going on the Vulcanized side of the business?
BR: Actually we just did our numbers and Vulc is doing surprisingly well.
Tony Chen: This is the first season we can think of that we’ve sold more Vulc than cupsole.
Tell us more about updating your senior management team.
BR: We brought Hans back for a reason. The owners came back and took control of the company because we thought other people could run our company, but we realized that we knew best. It’s like bringing the band back together. Its been great getting Tony Chen as president and us on board again and being fully in charge of our company and our destination.
HM: Tony is in the driver’s seat and making sure that the day-to-day nuts and bolts are there. Doug and Brian have carved out positions that really focus on the core essentials of making those components work. I work day to day with Tony, Doug, and Brian on ideas, creativity, and everything else they want to try to and implement and make sure it becomes reality.
How has your focus changed and that of the company since you guys became more involved?
BR: The one thing we’ve been more conscious of is taking care of ourselves, and in turn taking care of the employees. As we’ve learned a lot about business over the years, we’ve also learned a lot about ourselves and feeling good overall and in the work place. To bring it full circle, the original founders had this vision and this vision is why I feel we’ve had success. We all trust each other and know our strengths and weaknesses.
How are you dealing with the smaller core accounts?
TC: To have relevance you need to support the local core. We have grassroots programs with them, which include special pricing structures, having unique shoes for them that you won’t see at bigger nationwide chains. [As well as] having rider programs through sales reps who deal directly with the accounts.
BR: [We have] our tier system, as well. If it’s in Tier-one that’s our core accounts. The Tier ones get Duffels, Caswells, J.T’s—when they come out they are going to core only.
TC: Then there are other channels that we don’t deal with like mass market or sporting goods chains – we don’t deal with either of those yet, but eventually for our growth plan we hope to be at a level where we need to sell into those categories for growth. There are certain people who have been able to do it. DC has done it, Vans— there are certain brands who can pull it off. But I think it’s still – as much as the sport and the industry has grown – there is still that stigma when you sell to those last couple of tiers. Unless you have the marketing dollars to really offset the haters, it’s definitely a little bit of a risk.
What’s happening with Osiris Snow?
BR: We aren’t making snowboard boots, but we are making seasonal , waterproof boots, and that is allowing us to be in that category.
TC: We need to find the right personnel. We don’t have the level of commitment that we do with skate, FMX or BMX.