This past month I enjoyed one of the best moments of my career. We brought in 30 of our top customers around Europe and showed them what we’ve been working on in the factory. The advancements we’ve made as a team cannot be understated. With many helping hands, we’ve been able to transform an iconic company into one that is becoming increasingly future-proof. The support we’ve had is incredible—from the customer, to the ownership team, our manufacturing unit and office staff. Many hands make light work and I’m so grateful to be surrounded by positive and supportive people.
Getting the company to this point hasn’t been easy. Our brands have had a winning formula for decades and in John Wilson’s case, centuries. Implementing positive change in a manufacturing environment requires employee buy-in and a never-good-enough mentality. We always say “what got us here, won’t keep us here.”
We’ve gone from doing very little research and development internally, to developing a team that’s fully proficient in Solidworks and AutoCAD who are constantly 3D-printing new concepts and designs. After 3D printing their part, they’ll then start CNC machining; pushing the boundaries of what’s possible when it comes to skate blade manufacturing.
I’ve been running HD Sports for 7.5 years now. My first 4.5 years were largely focused on the Sales and Marketing side. Since then, I’ve focused heavily on learning the many nuances of the Manufacturing side to our business. It’s something I never thought I would enjoy but I’ve come to appreciate it and admire. Sales become easy if Production meets our expectation for high-quality products developed at scale. The best manufacturers in the world have little need for sales and marketing—their products sell themselves. Whether it’s user-generated content on social media or old-fashioned word of mouth around the ice rinks, the best-made products create a reputation of excellence. Think Tesla and Lamborghini.
As I mature, I constantly reminisce about my time in the Boy Scouts. Any time we went camping, our Scout Master, Ron Coleman, would always say to make sure that we left the camp site “better than we found it.” After 7.5 years at HD Sports, I can confidently say that if our time was up, we would be leaving it much better than we found it. The exciting part, is that we’re only just beginning. We will continue to question everything—process, equipment, attitude, culture, etc. The pursuit of perfection is the life-blood that runs through our veins. The destination is clear but it’s the journey towards it that keeps us going--the adrenaline it provides is the caffeine in our morning coffee.
The relationships we’ve been able to cultivate along the way mean everything to us. We have only come this far because of those who have believed in who we are, what we’re doing and where we’re going. We’re only capable of seeing further because we’re standing on the shoulders of giants. We will continue to approach each day with humility and grace and yet there will always be a quiet internal confidence that our passion for making ice skates will never be rivalled.
Sorry, that’s the competitor in me. God bless!