|Ed Saunders - Director of Marketing, STX|
|Profile of the week|
Sunday, 23 February 2014 22:27
Ed Saunders works for global sports equipment manufacturer, STX as their Marketing Director.
STX makes lacrosse equipment, field hockey equipment, and golf putters, but its main business is in manufacturing of men's and women's lacrosse sticks and protective gear, including gloves, pads, and women's eyewear.
STX has recently signed a number of partnerships including Major League Lacrosse, Team USA Lacrosse and personal endorsements with Ice Hockey stars Hilary Knight and Matt Moulson while also capturing Field Hockey and English athlete Sam Ward.
By Ismail Uddin
You began your career originally in a communications role and now are in a marketing position. Why was marketing a career path you wanted to go down?
I actually studied sports marketing and business administration at the University of New Hampshire so my intent all along was to follow a sports marketing track. When I got to College I got offered the position at Hockey East in a Director of Communications role. The position was twofold: 50 per cent public relations and 50 per cent sponsorship development and marketing. Also at that time sports properties were really just getting going which meant I spent a lot of my time developing the league's first website. It was communications but there was also a lot of marketing and through my work with the league sponsors I ended up getting a job at Nike US as the Brand Manager of their Nike Bauer Hockey business.
Considering your role at Nike, how do you compare your current role as Director of Marketing at STX from your previous roles?
It was very similar. My focus at Nike on the Hockey business was entirely the US market by and large and I worked cooperatively with my fellow brand managers from Canada and also from Europe. But now the main difference is while I did work in an global context at Bauer, I'm really now driving the establishment and development of STX as a global brand. The STX process is more global in nature but I do think my experience at Nike Bauer hockey working cooperatively across markets has helped me understand what we need to do here at STX.
STX is a global sports equipment manufacturer but you have a strong affiliation with Lacrosse. Why do you consider Lacrosse a key market?
Your absolutely correct, Lacrosse is our core market. Our founder actually invented the plastic Lacrosse head back in 1970 when we got the patent. Frankly we were a part of a much bigger industrial materials company but our founder (Richard B. C. Tucker Snr.), who played lacrosse in college, saw a need for improved access to equipment because at the time all Lacrosse sticks were hand made on Native American reservations and so it was very limiting, expensive and very hard to get. Our founder was passionate about the sport and had access to all the materials the company was making and created the first Lacrosse set in 1970 and the sport has blossomed.
Really the intent all along was to expand the reach of the game because Rich Tucker Snr. our founder believed in the sports ability to positively influence young people's lives. We are here now 44 years later and the sport is the fastest growing sport in the United States.
STX is also quite prominent in Field Hockey and Ice Hockey? What do these two markets provide for the business?
The large amount of our business is in Lacrosse which is essential to who we are but also since 1993 have been in the field hockey business and now we are now getting into the Ice Hockey business. We are really an insightful innovation driven, equipment hard goods company with an eye on team sports so there are obviously a lot of opportunities that are in-line with our business in markets around the world. We are able to leverage our strength and growth in Lacrosse and expand the reach of our brand.
Have you considered going into different sports? What sports would suit your target market?
We are just launching our Ice Hockey business and I think when you look at our business and what we are really good at, which is working with materials, plastics and composites, it lends itself to Ice Hockey and Field Hockey sticks but we are also very good at making padding for Lacrosse gloves, shoulder pads, arm pads and this can be made for Ice Hockey.
I think this is a natural fit for us and for the time being given the scale of the Ice Hockey business it is certainly in more of a global nature than our Lacrosse business and that is probably where we are going to focus on growing the company for the time being. I'm sure if other category opportunities arise we will explore them but for the time being we really want to focus on our Lacrosse business and expand the reach of our field hockey business globally.