From Grass to Ice: STX is Here to Stay


Matt Moulson, STX Athlete

The world of sports has seen many brands come and go. Nike, Adidas, and Reebok are all names I am sure you all have heard of. Some other extremely popular brands that you may not of heard of are Sherwood, CCM, and Warrior. The reason you may of not heard of these is because they are big brands for sports that are not as popular in the the U.S.  The brands that were mentioned above make gear for hockey and lacrosse, both of which are not as popular than sports like football, basketball, or baseball. Making a name for yourself in such competitive markets like these is not easy. One up and coming brand, STX, is trying to do just that.

STX is a company that makes everything Lacrosse. From protective gear, to high end lacrosse sticks, to apparel, STX makes it all. They are one of the leaders in this industry and recently have started to expand their brand into other sports such as hockey. Hockey and lacrosse have their obvious differences such as hockey is played on ice with a puck, and lacrosse is played on  field with a ball. Looking past that, the sports are fairly similar in regards to gameplay and players’ gear. Even though the similarities are prevalent, not many brands exist that carry both lacrosse and hockey gear. STX might be the next big name in hockey.

STX is not the first brand to make this transition. Warrior is one of the leaders in hockey protective gear and actually got their start in lacrosse before transferring over. Warrior is still at the top of both branches and STX wants to do the same. STX has just released their first set of player sticks and gloves for hockey this past month. This small introduction into the hockey world could be the start of something big. The sticks and gloves are already being sold in hockey stores across the country and they have even picked up some NHL players to showcase their gear on the professional level. Another way how the brand is attempting to make a quick entry into the market is through discounted team sales. As part of the club hockey team at DePaul, I have seen this first hand. An STX representative came out to a team practice and let the entire team demo their new line of sticks. After practice we were given the option to buy one or more sticks at an extremely discounted price. These sticks are pro quality and are comparable to many of the sticks on the racks today. This marketing ploy is one way that STX is going to grow as a hockey brand. The best way to get noticed is by getting exposure. STX has made a strong entry and I am excited to see what they roll out next.

My question for you is what do you think the next decision for STX should be to compete with other hockey brands.

Also, what are other brands that have expanded into different sport and how/why were they successful.



*Snowboarders Only*

You do not need to know much about snowboarding to know about the Burton brand. Burton is a snowboarding company that was started in 1977 by Jake Burton Carpenter. He did not create snowboarding but he might as well of since he was able to build up a company that is nearly the face of the sport itself. Over the years Burton successfully made snowboarding something more than just a sport, but rather a lifestyle. The company was able to blossom into what it is today by living true to that idea.

The sport of snowboarding has grown a lot in recent years but with the increase in popularity comes an increase in competition as well. Burton has been able to remain at the top of this industry because of superb managerial decisions. The company itself has a number of family brands within the same industry which makes it the largest and, according to many shredders, the most powerful. Making sure that all of these brands are heading in the right direction puts a lot of stress on management.

Just last year, the company announced a realignment plan that would better position Burton, all its family brands, and its stake holders for the future. Burton has grown an immense amount and is continuing to experience great income growth from year to year but the founder, Jake Burton Carpenter, felt as if the company was losing focus on what would lead to long term success. He commented on the big plan by saying that the company needs to “narrow [its] focus to the sport and lifestyle that got us here – snowboarding.”

Well that seems simple enough. It should be easy for a snowboarding company to be focused on snowboarding. With that being said, the economy can be very manipulative. The economy forced Burton outside of its realm of snowboarding and that is where I believe they lost focus. The big realignment plan actually is very simple but that does not mean that it will be an easy task. The company is simply just returning to its roots, a snowboarding company built by snowboarders, for snowboarders. So with this, Burton has demonstrated their new focus with substantial investments in infrastructure and Burton Headquarters. The purchase of a huge building next to its headquarters in Vermont is now home to a new research and development facility and a wholesale showroom. This structure is known as “the most advanced and sophisticated snowboard prototype facility in the world.” This allows the company to keep with the new focus and also stay ahead of the competition by creating and testing new snowboarding technologies.

I will now leave you with some questions to think about.

Is it a good decision to pull back from branching out into other industries even if the a company is doing well in those areas?

If you are unfamiliar with snowboarding, how do you feel about a company that has such a narrow customer focus despite being so large.

Lastly, are there any companies that have lost their reputation(or flourished) by expanding into other industries?


Bond With Your Brands!

Branding should be huge part of every company’s marketing plan.  If it isn’t you are missing a very important connection that many consumers look for.  In today’s marketplace there is always a substitute product, and if you disagree, I would argue that you do not know your market well enough.  With the overwhelming amount of options consumers are faced with every day it is sometimes difficult to distinguish yourself from your competition.  This has resulted in businesses trying to connect with their customer on a more personal level to help solidify their brand.

One way several businesses have built long lasting brand recognition is by taking on a “Do Good” corporate philosophy.  My favorite example of this is Toms Shoes.  What started as Blake Mycoskie’s personal project turned into a world-renowned humanitarian movement.  I do not personally own a pair of Toms Shoes; however, I know dozens of people who do, and most of them will vow to never buy another brand of shoes ever again.  This brand dedication comes from a sense of good will customers feel when purchasing the shoes along with the high quality of the product itself.  Since the overwhelming success of Toms several other companies have adopted the “buy one give one” philosophy in hopes of coat tailing on its reputation.  Warby Parker is one of those companies.  Warby Parker is an eyeglass manufacture/retailer that makes high quality eye wear for affordable prices, and donates a pair for every pair sold.  Warby Parker “sales have jumped by several hundred percent each year since its 2010 launch.”  Do you own a pair of Warby Parker glasses or Toms shoes?  If so what inspired you to make the purchase?

Another way businesses have inspired customers to make purchases is through selling more than just a product.  Some businesses are now marketing themselves in such a way that customers are buying a sense of community when they purchase products.  This type of business plan can be traced back to Live Strong.  No one bought a plastic yellow bracelet because it was a quality bracelet.  You bought one because it stood for cancer research, and it made you an active member of that community.  Lululemon Athletica has found its niche in the high-end athletic clothing world by developing a feel good, inspirational, goal oriented community.  “In addition to yoga and health, we’re also passionate about helping our guests create a life they love through the power of goal-setting.” “People care about our brand because they feel connected to it and what we stand for,” said Laura Klauberg, senior vice president of community and brand.  Using the community driven philosophy has allowed Lululemon to open 60 new stores over the past two years.

We have developed a need for connectivity, and we are now looking beyond social media to fill that void.  We want to feel a deeper connection with the shoes we wear, the gym we go to, and the music we listen to.

Entrepreneur Magazine, April 2013, Andruss. Paula, “7 Bewitching Brands” (pg 48)