History of Mogema/Cadomotus with Diederik Hol
Back to the roots of Cadomotus with Diederik Hol
Can you tell us how Mogema was born ?
Mogema is a group of machine factories in the Netherlands, highly specialized in precision machining. Some workers at one of the factories where also speed-skating enthusiasts; on ice but also on the road at the days that the transition from quad to inline was made. Early and mid '90s. They had the idea to make built their own frame with the wheels inline. They where one of the first to produce such frames. First selling direct from the factory. Later on they gave distribution to a Pro shop near by: StouwdamSport. Stouwdam handled all the sales & distribution (worldwide).
They where hold back for doing business because of a patent issue with Raps. Late 90's they stopped making frames. After a legal battle that was finally won, in '99 the owners of the factories established a new company called SportsInline in order to get Mogema back on the map. In the years before there where a lot of others starting to design and make frames for the inline sport that became more and more popular. This time, it had to be done the professional way, not as a side job in the machine factory. Goal of SportsInline was to built a leading brand in the inline sports, not just with frames, but a complete catalog with boots, wheels, accessories, and different models for different types of skaters.
Was it your own company?
When Sportinline was established in '99, I was hired as a designer to setup the whole new product line. In the mid '90s, I was involved with the development of the famous clap skate for ice. They know me from this, and from my works that I did as a freelance designer for Raps in the years 96 up to 98.
Mogema was not my company. I came in as a designer and later became managing director.
Were your the founder of Mogema?
There where 4 stake holders. The Pinkster brothers who owned the Mogema machine factories, Evert Slager who was shareholder of Stouwdam and managed his own professional inline and ice speedskating team and a fourth business men who was very successful in the 80's in windsurf and sailing sports.
How did you decide to launch a skating brand?
I have always wanted to setup my own sports brand and I happened to get involved in speedskating. Actually, I am a road cyclist as many people know, so it could have been cycling too. Since I got involved in inline (and later ice) I was 'sold' to the sport. From the first moment, I visited races, spoke with athletes and was doing research. Got so many idea's how to improve and try out new stuff. It actually never stopped. Not everything has been successful in terms of performance or commercial perspective, but I have at least created a few designs that helped the sport moving forward.
Where and how did you found the money for this project?
Money came from the shareholders who where successful business man. We had no lack of funds for investment ;-) How different is the situation these days.
Did you start with inline or ice-skating?
Inline for sure.
Is there a link between the skating culture of the Netherlands and this company?
As I explained, definitely. Mogema started by a group of skating enthusiasts who where workers in the machine factory.
Was Mogema your main job?
Yes. We were not with that many people. Professional speedskating was never a sport like cycling or skiing for example. If you include recreational sports, it's a different story, but still. Mogema never was a Salomon, Fila or Rollerblade. We remained keeping focus on the Elite market.
So not having a large staff, I was involved in everything, from R&D to marketing, to sales, to order processing, to accountancy.
Did you deal products from other brands?
From 2000 on we had a deal with Rollerblade. We where partner of their famous World Team and we worked closely together to develop new products, such as the clap frames in 2001 and we collaborated in the times where wheel sizes grew from 80 to 110mm. We had a license agreement and Rollerblade had Mogema frames in their high-end models. They used a part of our frame technology for their fitness models: Dualbox®.
Other then this we sold Hyper wheels, and later Labeda. We also had a partnership with SKF and did a few projects together in order to improve bearing technology for skating.
Your Mogema frames was very famous in downhill ans speed-skating. How do you explain that?
This has to do with the legal battle that I mentioned. Mogema was restricted not being able to make a 3-void frame, such as everybody did those days. 3-void means that the extrusion profile which is the base of the frame, exists of 3 layers: one to become the rear deck, no.2 to become the front deck, no.3 to become the reinforcement bridge in between the wheels.
I had to think about another way to give the frame strength and stiffness, but not using this 3rd layer. Then I came up with the idea to make the side rails tubular. Before producing these, we did a lot of analysis in the Rollerblade Lab and computer calculations, and both have shown the DualBox® was even better than a 3-layer chassis!
Introduction couldn't start any better with Jorge Botero winning the World Cup in Rome in April 2000, the first race of the season, won on the new frames.
How did you choose the name of the companies Mogema and Cadomotus?
Mogema stands for 'modern-utilized-machine factory' (in Dutch then). CadoMotus means "falling motion" in Latin language. "Falling motion" is the essence of all speedskating sports. It's what makes the sport technically advanced and so beautiful to watch the motion.
Why did you decide to end Mogema and to launch Cadomotus?
We made mistakes at Mogema, made investments at the wrong time. A few times, I was forced to do so, while I disagreed. We hired the wrong people, we made large purchases without any certainty if we could sell all that. Finally the guys with the money run the show. Mogema wasn't my own company, it was not my money.
I just thought I could do it better, but then I wanted to work for myself and take my own decisions. CadoMotus is funded with my own money, for a large part. I have 2 business partners, one is boot maker Paul Marchese, the other is Victor van den Hoff who owns Free-skate.
Do you have your own factory?
We have a selected group of Vendors that we co-operate with, like Mearthane Products Group (MPC) in the USA, Davide Mariani in Italy for boots and some very good sources in Taïwan, the capital of bike industry of the World, for most metal products. With all of them, it's a very tight relationship in which we share time, risk and money in order to make better product. It's about added value, not about volumes and prices.
How many people are working for Cadomotus?
We are with a key staff of four people that cover administration & finances, order processing & warehousing, sales and me doing all R&D works and being general manager.
Besides they key staff at the office we collaborate with a few freelancers that assist in the online business for example. Worldwide sales is organized via a network of dealers, distributors and sole representatives.
What brands do you deal? On which territories?
- CadoMotus is our own brand for the inline products, all in the recreational sports, competition and elite segment.
- Marchese is our own brand for the same segments but on ice.
- We are European distributors for MPC wheels and Bones bearings.
- Furthermore worldwide we sell Mariani boots and EO carbon frames.
How do you see the frames' market in the upcoming years?
We'll serve custom frames as a part of a custom skate. The frame can not be seen independent of the boot or wheels. One can have a stiffer frame but more flex in the wheels or visa versa. The frame can have lower decks with a boot that has higher mount blocks, or the other way around. Thus, a frame manufacturer must work closely together with a wheel producer and the boot maker, in order to make the perfect skate for an athlete. I believe that there will be another transition from the carbon shell of the boot to the aluminum rails that hold the wheels.
What is the annual turnover (sales) of Cadomotus?
It's over 1 million.
What are your projects for the future?
Our current focus is to grow in ice, both long track and short track. We have a unique concept that opens doors to a new type of product that requires different preparation. This is a very difficult road that we enter, because the ice speedskating market is typically traditional. But if you want to push the sport onto another level, you must not be afraid to take difficult roads. It took the clap skate over 20 years to get adapted! Now everybody uses it.
For inline we have a new wheel under development. This is challenging, but we have the knowledge, the right environment and partners to make it good. Its an essential part of the skate that we want to control and match with frame and boot.
LinksInterview by Alfathor
Photos: Cadomotus & Mogema