Jason Broz is no stranger to the snowboard hardgoods game. Having built his own board brand, Clyde, in Calgary and then heading up the R&D department at Endeavour snowboards, he knows how to design and produce product.
Now Broz is again branching out on his own, this time focusing more on the front end of the business while working with binding sage Daniel Mao to bring Fix Binding Co. to market. We sit down with Broz to get the skinny on Canada’s newest offering.
We’d heard you left Endeavour and the rumours of what you had in the works. So tell us, what’s happening?
If I back up to when I actually left Endeavour, I had crossed paths with a guy in Asia named Daniel Mao, who’s basically a binding guru. He’s been making bindings for 20-odd years for all sorts of brands. He’s very influential in the Chinese snowboard scene. He’s the guy who created the Chinese Olympic snowboard team. So he had this idea of starting a binding brand. He has a lot of knowledge in how to produce bindings—he knows all the suppliers, the materials, the tooling and all that. But he doesn’t have the knowledge of marketing it, team, getting distribution and really being the face of the company.
And that’s where you come in.
Exactly. I started to think, you know, this could be a massive opportunity. And we just got to talking and we decided he’d handle the production and Asia, and I’d handle the rest of the world, essentially create the brand, everything from team to sales force to distro. So we set off on designing new product from scratch.
Tell us about the bindings.
The approach most brands take is they use a binding factory—there’s a whole bunch of them. But the bigger brands use their own supply chain, so they use specialists in each field—injection moulding, stitching, painting, those kinds of things. And that’s the approach we’re taking. We’re following the supply chain through Southern China and only using the best suppliers for each component and assembling them all at the end. So it’s just a really good way to use the absolute best materials, tooling and methods to make the binding. And by doing that we’re able to save the up-charge at the factory and pass that savings on to the customer. So we’re able to have a really good quality snowboard binding that retails for $199.
“It makes it so we’re able to react and change designs much faster….To keep things really fresh year-to-year and really learn from rider, distributor and sales force feedback and adapt quickly.”
And I guess that allows you to make quick changes and tweaks to components, instead of having to resubmit an entire design to the factory.
That’s exactly it. It makes it so we’re able to react and change designs much faster. We’re able to take advantage of new technologies as they emerge. Now we’re doing 3-D printed injection moulding tooling, and saving costs there. All the tooling is exclusive to Fix. And really all sorts of amazing new things are coming out that’s all just really happening now. There’s this new revolution in the industry, which is really exciting. And it’s bringing costs down. Traditionally you’d have to spend well over 100 grand to get binding tooling, and we’re not spending even close to that, because it’s much more efficient now. It used to be really industrial, where you’d be making 100,000 units on one tool. But I’d rather do 10,000 units and then completely change up the design. To keep things really fresh year-to-year and really learn from rider, distributor and sales force feedback and adapt quickly.
Is there any new technology?
The idea of the brand was never to re-invent the wheel. We’re not looking to create any crazy new technology that will revolutionize the industry. What I wanted to do was make a really good quality, solid binding that was simple, and would be affordable for teenagers to buy. Affordability was the mandate. I wanted to make it very obtainable. Having said that, there is one model of binding that has a unique feature. It’s called the X-Lock. The disc of the binding actually mounts to the board, but not the baseplate. The baseplate mounts to the disc with a twist lock, and the footbed goes on with three pins so it won’t move side to side. The thinking behind that binding is to give each set of bindings two sets of discs, so if you have a powder board and a twin board, you can, without a screwdriver, pop the bindings off and switch it up in like 10 seconds. So, if you’ve got a quiver of boards, it’s a really good system. It’s perfect for demo fleets, and I’m hoping resorts will get all over it for their rental programs. It’s just a really simple system for swapping out your bindings quickly, and you don’t need any tools.
You’ve been in the R&D world at Endeavour, and now you’re more on the business side of things. Is that a big change for you personally?
I actually have a business degree. So I come from a product management background and handling production, primarily overseas. I also have a lot of R&D background. To be honest, I’ve been really itching to get on this side of the business, instead of physically laying up boards, which I’ve done for 20 years. So I’m definitely down for an exciting change. Don’t get me wrong, I love making boards, and I miss it, and I’ll probably get back into it at some point. But for now, I’m really digging the new challenge.
And going from making boards to bindings?
I’m loving it. I’ve always wanted to do a binding brand and had ideas in the back of my head; I just didn’t have the knowledge or means to do it. So meeting Daniel Mao, just really made it all click, and I had to jump on the opportunity. I give Daniel the design concepts and he works to make them happen, doing the nitty gritty engineering. Whereas before, I’d been physically making the boards. Like when I did Clyde in Calgary, when I should have been focusing on the business and working to get more sales, I was in the back laying up boards one by one. Now I can focus on building the brand. And I’ve been having a blast. It’s a lot of work, as all businesses are, but I love the new challenge. I didn’t know how excited it would get me about the industry again.
“I wanted to do was make a really good quality, solid binding that was simple, and would be affordable for teenagers to buy. Affordability was the mandate. I wanted to make it very obtainable.”
Is there a team lined up?
On the team right now is Kael Hill and Trint Thomas. There are some bigger global pro announcements in the works, but I probably shouldn’t say too much about that yet.
How’s the sales and distro model set up?
In Canada, we’ve got sales reps. We’re working with Catapult Agency in BC. In the prairies, we’ve got Pickled Agencies. Ontario is Herd Agency, in Quebec we work with NBP, and in the Maritimes, it’s Iced Agencies. And for global, there are 17 countries we’re going to market in for the first year. It’s going to be a great launch.
When is product available?
This is launching for KnowShow next week, so it’s all for next winter.
Are there prototypes floating around out there?
In Asia, we wanted to do a bit of a soft launch to get the product out there and make sure we ironed out any kinks in the product design. So we did a launch and already sold 2,000 pairs. So there is product in the market right now in Asia. It’s just our way to make sure there’s 100 per cent no issues with the design. So now we’re very confident to go to market.
How can retailers get more info?
Retailers can either reach out to me at email@example.com or they can reach out to their local sales reps. And of course, come see me at KnowShow. You can check the website, fixbindingco.com, right now, it’s just a splash page, but there is an email link there.