FOR EVERYTHING SPEEDSKATING
ICE VS INLINE MICHEL MULDER
MATTHIAS KNOLL “HARDCORE SINCE 1994”
BART ON ICE the crossover
+ the move ICON 2013
icon boot 2013 next episode
michael mulder the interview
14-15 the move facts & more
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MK hardcore since 1994
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.
launched Powerslide speed division
bought Xsjado skates from Salomon
launched Nordic skates
lauched our first fitness skates line with Phuzion
lauched the Vi line
>> being a racer before means you want to win, so you strive to be the best in what you do <<
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. This interview was originally published by www.rollerenligne.com
www.matter-r ac ing.c om
BART SWINGS ON ICE The cross over between inline skating and ice skating has become even closer in the past several seasons. In the early to mid 2000’s it was only a handful of inline skaters who took their first few brave steps onto the ice, but now it almost seems like its complusory for top inliners to be skating on the ice during the winter. Almost every skater in the PS racing team is involved in ice somehow. Even if its just one or two times per week to keep the fitness going throughout winter, or like to Bart Swings, who is now well inside the top 10 in the world. Bart, his brother Maarten Swings, and of course big Ferre Spruyt are all hoping to compete in Sochi 2014. They could be the next an all inline team pursuit. Powerslide is also very keen to start getting more involved in the ice market. We are starting to test and develop some new products using the expertise of Bart. It should also be noted that the same technical differences between the two sports also flow over to the products. While the boots may look very similar they are in reality quite different. Blade construction requires the similar expertise that wheel production takes. What is interesting is that when you ask any of the guys or girls who are doing both sports what is more fun, they all answer inline. It is a shame that inline isn’t an Olympic sport yet, but for now it seems like the two sports are working out well for the athletes.
ICON BOOT 2014 “This winter we began serious development on a custom boot for Bart. At just 265g in his size we are heading in the right direction. Still some fine tuning needed. But we are working hard together with Sergio McCargo to ensure we not only have the best inline boots in the world, but also the best ice boots”
So Michel, what came first; the chicken or the egg? Were you an ice skater before an inline skater, or the other way around? I can’t remember exactly. I started both when i was about 6 years old. before that i played soccer! I was a goalkeeper. didn’t really work out great. Is it easy for you to change between the two sports? This year the change was pretty easy. I think every year you make the change it gets easier. I’ve done it so much now that my body recognize directly what movement i have to make. Do you think they compliment each other? Or does one help the other more? I am pretty sure that they compliment each other. I never tried to go for just 1 of the sports and i don’t see myself doing that in the future. I just like to race. I can’t have 6 months without any racing. Most important reason is that i
just have fun doing it. There is no way i will miss 1 of them! You are very successful in the 500m events on both ice and inline. One is essentially a time trial and the other one with others. Is the mental preperation similar or totally different? Totally Different. With iceskating i am really focused on technical things. Thinking about the line in the corner, thinking about position of my hip. With inline i am not worrying about the line in the corner. I just need to get out of it first. With inline there are unexpected things that can happened all the time. Then you have to decide in a split second what you are going to do. So they are totally different but both great! You were one of the stars of “the Dutch Day” at the 2012 World Championships in San Benedetto del Tronto. Now that its been some months since then, have you had time to reflect?
>> I knew the last straight was my weapon <<
I didn’t had a lot of time to reflect because the ice season was starting already but i enjoyed it a lot and i am still watching the final online around 1 time a week. Also the medal and the rainbow shirt are having a nice spot in my apartment. It was an amazing team performance that day. I got so motivated by my teammates winning medals. I saw Lars Scheenstra winning the Bronze and Manon Kamminga winning the Silver just before my race. Because of the rain i cleaned my bearings after every heat. The physiotherapists and Crispijn Ariens helped me with that so i could keep moving and get ready for the next round. I knew the last straight was my weapon. Coming out in second spot gave me a lot of confidence to grab this chance of winning my first world title. Switching to PS a litte, do you already know some of the guys and girls you´ll be racing with next season? I know most of them. I did race a lot against the guys and we met a lot last year at the europa cup. When i was young
i went to Belgium a lot for international races. I always lost from Ferre. I was scared to race him back then. Luckily we will be teammates now so i don’t have to be scared anymore :). When will we see you in PS colors for the first time? I think that will be in Geisingen at the europa cup next year. To be honest i didn’t check the schedule carefully yet because i am in the middle of world cups iceskating. Next year´s inline season is tight, Euro´s in your home country, World Games, Worlds, all within about three months, and then its an Olympic winter? All too much? Is it too soon to know what your plans will be? It is to soon to know what my plans will be exactly. European championships are in Holland. Thats a sure thing. I will race there and try to get my first european title too. We will see what we’re doing after that.
In 2013 we are reinvented ICON boot. We decided that we wanted to make a no compromise, a no BS boot. Everything that went into the boot is designed to help you go fast. The original need for the redesign came from our custom boot maker, Sergio McCargo. Part of the reason was that we wanted to create an upper for him that was easier to work with for the custom boots. Then during that process we decided to bring that technology into the standard boot range. While we still used the finest materials we could, we wanted to simplify everything. We refined the last and padding to make sure there was the best possible fit around the ankle area. The menâ€™s boot is available in sizes 37-46, and womenâ€™s model starts one size smaller at 36. Standard boots will be avaliable by Spring, but custom boots are available now!
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