TRUE to Form

Long-Time Stick Company Dips Its Toe Into Skate Business

For TRUE Hockey, gliding into the skate category seemed a natural fit.  

Focused on premium technology and quality products, the company acquired VH Footwear in November 2016 and spent the following months rebranding and developing a new distribution strategy for its line of skates. On July 1, 2017, TRUE’s branded product was officially ready to hit the open market. 


Fast forward more than a year later, and TRUE’s custom skate category is thriving.  


We caught up with TRUE’s Senior Director of Sales and Marketing, Dave McNally, to learn about the customization process, reactions from skaters and what’s on the horizon for the company.


It’s been quite a year for TRUE since the company has rolled out its line of skates. What’s been the reaction from consumers? 


Dave McNally:It’s been overwhelming, quite frankly. The results have exceeded our expectation through the first 18 months since acquiring VH Footwear. Consumers who have tried this product for the first time have all had the same reaction, almost a disbelief to just how well the skate fits and the resulting performance that comes with a properly fitting skate.  


Fit and performance are directly correlated, so with a better fitting skate, you’ll perform better. That’s the reality. Our fleet of NHL players went from just under 60 players when we acquired the company to 130 and we believe that number will continue to grow. A lot of that goes back to the fact that we’re building a skate that fits and performs better through our proprietary manufacturing process and unique technologies around the skate. 


What makes these skates different than other skates on the market?


DM:We have a number of proprietary technologies in the skate. The magic behind our skate really comes down to our process by which we build the skate from the “Inside Out,” using the data points captured through a 3D foot scan. The one-piece monocoque boot design is also a key contributor to the extraordinary fit as it is more heat moldable than any other skate on the market, again further amplifying the extraordinary fit. The construction of the boot is also highly protective. We believe our boot to be the most protective on the market in fact and are in the midst of validating this through third parting testing. 


Since these skates are custom fit to consumers, how does the entire process unfold? 


DM:We spent a considerable amount of time and investment to define the optimal consumer experience from the discovery stage, to the purchase itself as well as the post purchase. We felt this was really lacking in the hockey industry, we set out to create a 360-degree experience around this product. The vision was to create a situation where consumers could learn about the skate online, could configure the skate online and could even book an appointment at their nearest Fit Center online, and then go to the store to begin the fitting process and complete their purchase. 


The store experience is also quite unique. You get a full 3D scan of your foot. Then, there’s a process we call our “prescription” stage to help us learn more about the player, their feet and what they are really looking for in a skate. We take all of that information along with the 3D scan into consideration when building each pair of custom skates. Once the consumer leaves the store, we keep in touch through automated communication, keeping the consumer up to speed on where their skates are in the process as well as providing shipping information once they’ve shipped back to the Fit Center. The product arrives back at the Fit Center and is unveiled in premium packaging, which is then followed by the heat mold process. At that point, we’ve completed the 360-degree loop. It starts online, goes to the store level, online communication and then goes back to the store level. It’s quite a unique experience end to end. 


Anything new and exciting on the horizon for TRUE?


DM:We’re excited about a number of things. Some I can talk about, some I can’t. But what I can tell you is we expect to be a full-scale company in terms of all product categories within the next 36 months. Innovation, product development along with our youthful enthusiasm as a brand continues to be at the core of business and will certainly be what continues to drive our business as we enter the next stage of growth.

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