Powerslide: a brand, a success story
"It is the team that matters"
Hello Matthias, I heard that you started that project when you was a student ?
True, actually before Powerslide, I started a little company called "Roll-Knoll". I started when I was 18.
My father died that year and my mother did not had the money to support my sport expenses and travels. So after I finished school I started this little shop selling speed-skating products at races I competed.
At that time, I sold Hyper wheels, YD, Bont, Roller House, Boen, Belotti. That was back in 1988.
By the end of 1994, I ended up selling around Europe.
Did you start with Powerslide by dealing products from other brands?
In the beginning, Powerslide was just a distribution company, dealing mainly with brands from USA, mainly aggressive skating brands like Senate and Co. as this segment was booming at that time. But we always had brands for speed-skating too.
When was born Powerslide ?
End of 1994 this is when we started Powerslide, I finished Roll-Knoll and made Powerslide with my partner.
Who was the founders of this project ?
With my partner Stefan Göhl, who was the brother of my best school friend. We knew each other for a long time.
Powerslide : where does that name come from ?
There are two main reasons we chose Powerslide as a name.
One we wanted to link our company clearly to skating. Powerslide is a braking maneuver, so this we also showed on our first logo.
The other reason was that we wanted to also express that we want tp push forward, want to be aggressive, young and dynamic so the word POWER showed this in the name too.
How did you have that idea?
With the shops I had, I knew skating was about to grow big, USA was booming already and my US contacts with hyper, etc. all said it will be big... so I had an offer to work also for hyper in Europe but decided I would try it with an own distribution company.
Tom Peterson, the owner of Hyper really supported us, giving us brands for distribution. He became a great teacher.
We still work together with a lot of the people we met at this time. John mCfadden the sales guy of Hyper at that time is now our new US sales manager.
Tony from Trine (Senate, 976, etc.) now runs Aend, the supplier of Matter with his partner neal Piper who was the chemistry guy at Hyper back in 1994 already. So a lot of those guys helped and supported us from the beginning. Those were the golden days of skating.
Where did you find the money to launch PS ?
To start Roll-Knoll in 1988, I had a bit of my own money and my mother gave me a loan of 2500 Euros (5000 Deutsch Mark at this time), which I paid back the same year.
I was lucky that the east part of germany opened up and I supplied new goods to all clubs there and than all skaters changed to Inline skates. So those issues helped to make quite good sales and by the end of 1994 I made around 300,000 Euros in turnover alone.
To launch Powerslide we got loans from 2 banks, I think around addtional 250,000 Euros, as we made a nice business plan and could proove some sales before already from my old company.
When and why did you acquire other brands distribution (Creation of The Conference)?
In 1997 and 1998, the Inline market crashed especially in aggressive skating, so most of the brands which we distributed went out of business or closed down. So we had a problem too:
- Way smaller market
- No brands to sell
- lots of old stock...
So we had some really hard times, which we learned from. We were on survival mode and started to create our own prodcuts more and more to get prodcuts for sales.
In 1997, we started USD our first Worldwide brand and selected the best skaters in the world for the team. We brought new skates to the market with interchangeable parts which was the start of the customization in aggressive skating.
Than step after step we did protective gear, bearings, wheels, etc.
2003: we launched Powerslide speed division.
2004: we bought Xsjado skates from Salomon.
2007: we launched Nordic skates.
2008: we lauched our first fitness skates line with Phuzion. 2012: we lauched the Vi line.
So we kept busy and plan to grow each segment.
The quality of your products seriously improved since then…
Yes this was and is our main focus. When we got into production, we learnt that this is not easy to control production, especially in Asia. So, step by step :
- we invested to improve our quality
- we added some quality control people in China (now we have 3)
- we added in house industrial and graphic designers (now we have total 7 inhouse designers)
- we selected more carefully our suppliers
- and we finally created our own little factory in 2012.
So we did quite some investments. We also made a new internal quality process. But still there is room to improve especially in hard times when Asia companies try to save money in materials etc. So this is an ongoing process we have to focus on.
Moreover, we are a company that really try to innovate. Innovation costs money and time and sometimes causes also certain quality problems. In a market like skating where innovation is missing, we need to push the products forward to make skating faster, better and cooler again and show the market that innovation can lead a brand. So for now this is working well.
So you have your own factory?
Yes, with all the changes in China and the lack of being able to control 100% quality, we opened a little factory with around 25 people in 2012. It is quite new but running well and we can improve delivery time, quality and have better control, we will see how this will go.
You started from nothing and now you are one of the most successful brand in the World… how do you explain that?
Well, I think it has to do with more things: being a racer before means you want to win, so you strive to be the best in what you do.
We constanly try to improve ourselves, to innovate and work on quality. We are not perfect but we know our mistakes and taking steps to improve things, from production, to logistics to design, etc.
The main advantage we have is our team. We have a team that loves skating, lots of active skaters in our office with lots of knowledge and a ton of passion that cannot be matched. Along with this passion, we also get lots of feedback and input from our teams in all segments and they help to improve our prodcuts, test and also innovate. Our sponsored skaters also help a lot of push our company forward.
In general, it is not one person, it is the team that matters.
How many people are working for Powerslide?
Right now, we are 35 people at the office. Then, we have our sales people in the fields, but those are like independent representatives.
Now, we are just moving in a new facility, which gives us more room and space. We will be also able to run some events. So, next June, we plan a FSK and Powerblading event next to the Europacup in Speed skating in our home town.
What is the annual turnover (sales) of Powerslide?
In the past years, we had a turnover between 15 and 16 Million Euros.
What are your projects for the future?
In 2012, we launched "Doop Skates" and also a new protective brand called "Ennui" for extreme sports.
On those two new things we will also focus in 2013.
We also plan to enter the Derby market with wheels and also own brand for boots and frames.
Thanks Matthias for your answers!