Pro Lite International and 3DFINS Launch Partnership In U.S.
With its roots in Margaret River, Western Australia, 3DFINS TM was founded by lifelong surfer and inventor Courtney Potter, who is also responsible for developing the world’s first mini wave machine, the Surfmachine. After working in the US for some time on aeronautical toy design, 3DFINS’ Potter began to think of ways to apply the same type of technology to surfing.
“His thoughts were that there are lots of performance similarities between ‘fins and wings,'” says 3DFINS’ Brand Manager Mark “Mogga” Sutton. “He began working on advanced fin designs and surfing inventions which he has been doing now for over a decade, and after several years of tweaking, two years ago 3DFINS TM was created.”
Building the brand internationally for the last few years, Potter and Sutton recently teamed up with Pro Lite to begin its expansion of 3DFINS and its technology here in the U.S. The brand’s formula for manufacturing fins, which includes its Dimple Technology, focuses primarily on innovation and creativity, and aims to enhance the surfing experience and improve performance. With major pros like Josh Kerr backing the product, 3DFINS has already begun making a name for itself in the surfing community.
Hear from Josh Kerr about 3DFINS right here:
3DFINS’ Sutton and Pro Lite’s Sales and Marketing Director Mike “Hendo” Henderson answer some questions about the new partnership, how they hope to grow the brand in the U.S., and which surfboard brands and retailers they are working with to make that happen.
What’s Prolite’s role in bringing them to the US?
MH: We’ve partnered up with 3D to help launch the brand in the US and help them grow the brand globally. Pro Lite has an infrastructure that is already set up for distribution, with two warehouses in the US. We utilize one warehouse in PA. for our East Coast distribution, and we also have our main hub in Ventura CA. We will be handling all sales, marketing and distribution in the states, in regards to 3DFINS.
When will the brand launch at US retail?
MH: We have our first domestic shipment arriving in mid June. Due to the demand in Australia, we have only had the opportunity to get our hands on about a dozen sets, and have been letting some of our team guys ride them. They all seem to love them, and they wont give them back. That is the good and the bad of it.
Which shops will they land in?
MH: Right now we have commitments from Surfride, HSS, ET Surfboards, Jacks, Kanvas By Katin and a handful of others. The product is still yet to arrive, and we have only had our a couple fins to show to a few of our key accounts. We already have a network of accounts that we currently do business through Pro Lite, and Big Swell Products. Pro Lite also oversees the distribution domestically for Big Swell ding repair products that opens up our existing account base substantially.
Are you working closely with any particular surfboard companies to help launch the product?
MH: Yes and no. We work closely with Rusty Surfboards and Hydroflex. This has helped getting fins into the hands of a wide variety of people and the feedback has been priceless. We have also been giving them to a couple of shapers to get their feed back on them as well. Robert Weiner of Roberts Surfboard is a close friend of Pro Lite, and we asked him to test them out for us. He has been riding a set for the past few weeks and is really digging the fins. It is always good to get feedback from people who understand what makes a board work, and who have an intimate knowledge of the relationship between boards and fins. But in reality, it seems that now most board manufacturers are now supplying boards to retail without fins so we don’t necessarily want to align ourselves with any one manufacturer. We’d like to be in a place in a few years where all board manufacturers acknowledge and endorse our products as “performance” enhancing when used with their designs.
What sets 3D apart form other fins on the market today?
MS: First and foremost are the Dimples – the Dimples are unique to 3DFINS TM (Design Patented, Aust, USA, International Patents Pending) and with over 1 year of working closely with Josh Kerr and a comprehensive series of Flow Dynamic testing, the results have continued to astound us. The testimonials from pro’s and average Joe’s prove it – Dimples make a difference. Most elite surfers will agree that fins contribute up to 50% of how well a surfboard performs. Because of this fact we believe that there are many ways to create a fin that improves a surfboards performance. Most other fin brands rely primarily on flex patterns and small tweaks to fin shapes…we don’t believe that these two things alone will advance surfing to where it has the potential to go. We utilize materials; technologies and design principles inspired by a number of highly evolved industries and then through intensive R&D refine theses concepts to work in our field. Dimple technology is a prime example of this.
MH: The other great aspect of these fins is that it is unique to the market. There are several new brands out there selling a variation of the same product, using the same technology. This is a whole new approach to furthering the functionality of our fins.
3DFINS TM also has produced a unique material used for the first time in the creation of its fins, and with unique graphics, presents a truly innovative product to the market.
What type of materials, innovative production processes, etc. are you using to create the final product?
MS: We are constantly looking for new materials and new processes, as we believe the materials involved in making a surfboard fin can be improved. We have worked on our materials and flex with Josh Kerr for over a year now, the result is the Moonrakerr TM series that has a super lively flex with incredible memory. Josh is continuing to work with Courtney testing new prototypes of material mixes that have never been used before in surfboard fins.
Where is your manufacturing done?
MH: Our design base is USA and Australia— this is where our ideas are born. Manufacturing is currently in China and Australia, and we also plan to move some of our manufacturing in the future to the US.
What is your business like in Internationally – which countries and major retailers are you already in?
MS: We are currently in Australia, Japan, Indonesia, New Zealand, South Africa and expanding into Europe and Central America as we speak. And now, with Prolite for the USA distribution, it is a great fit for the innovation philosophy and we both have a great foundation and look for innovative products.
How do you hope to grow the business in the US? What’s your strategy behind this growth?
MH: Presenting something new to market and challenging people to open their minds to this new technology is not an easy task. People seem to understand the theory behind hit, and most people are anxious to try them, and see how well they work. We will be setting up test centers with our key retailers, as well as partnering with Rusty to make them available at their board demos nationwide. You really have to put up or shut up when it comes to fins and new technology, and let people feel the difference for themselves.
What opportunities do you see as existing stateside vs. internationally?
MH: 3DFINS has already had tremendous success in Australia, and the distribution there is extremely solid. We think that getting people riding the fins, will allow for organic growth via word of mouth, and hearing shop guys, team riders, and just your average guys testimony will help the brand grow. There is no doubt in our minds that this will also help support our forthcoming domestic print and online campaigns.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for your company moving into the future?
MS: As an innovator one of the challenges 3DFINS TM faces is the status quo. Surfing is still conservative when it comes to design compared to other sports. New designs require a lot of testing and proof of concept before the market accepts it, and we are working hard to become recognized as the innovative and market leader in fin design.