SHOP TALK: Value of hockey equipment goes past the actual cost
About 15 years ago, we got our first shipment of full composite sticks at Behind The Mask with the Easton Synergy ringing in at an unheard of price of $139.99.
I remember saying out loud to my co-workers that “there’s no way people are paying $140 for a stick.” Around that same time, we started seeing $500 skates and I immediately thought, “Who in the WORLD is spending THAT on skates?” Over the next 15 years, we have seen more advances and offerings in composite sticks, skates and helmets, each better than the last and each coming with a healthy price increase.
In 2013, the industry broke the $250 price marker on sticks, the first $200 helmet started placing itself on the heads of hockey players everywhere and $850 skates went on the wall. Not long after, Bauer leaked a concept skate to the public that came with a rumored $1500 price tag. Sticks kept inching closer to $300 and helmets were about to be there. At what point will it be too much and how can companies justify the ever-increasing price of their gear?
These were the questions I was itching to ask in late September when myself and 200 or so other dealers from across the globe attended the 2015 Bauer World event in Montreal. This three-day event showcases their new launches for the next year, along with sneak peeks at what’s coming in the not-so-distant future. After two days of product talk, our Bauer adventure came to a close when it was our group’s turn at an unprecedented opportunity to go check out the Bauer R&D facility and pro factory in Blainville, Quebec.
The tour started off with us having to shed all electronics, including my phone and smart watch. We were about to see something the general public doesn’t get to, including things their competitors would love to get a peek at. Bauer wanted to make sure our memories were the only things leaving the building. Over the next three hours, my group witnessed some truly amazing technology, machinery (many of which Bauer invented and built specifically for the design, construction, and testing of hockey sticks, skates, helmets and equipment) and a handful of the most remarkably intelligent people I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking with about hockey equipment, sticks and skates.
I can’t get into too much details due to agreements we all had to sign before they let us through the door, but what I can tell you is I have a much better appreciation for all the work and technology that goes into making those $270 sticks and the $900 skates. After seeing the process of designing, creating and testing new products in the helmet category alone, I’m surprised those don’t cost upwards of $400.
Everything from what color schemes the lines of equipment will be, to how the tendon guard on your skates will move, to the painstaking work that Bauer put into making sure your high-end sticks maximize every available ounce of force and velocity you can put into your shot was mind-blowing. By far the most impressive, though, was what goes into making sure the helmet on your head is as protective as it can possibly be.
So what does it cost a company like Bauer to make a $270 stick? In materials, production and shipping from the factory, maybe $50? I honestly don’t know, but that’s the cost of the second stick. It’s the first one that you should be wondering about, that one could easily have been in the millions. Remember, not everyone wants or needs the top-of-the-line products. Most of us can make do with something a bit less and not miss a beat, but if you are someone who likes to own the very best, rest assured the hockey companies are putting in the work to justify those lofty price tags.
Nick Boyarsky serves as the head of team sales for BTM and the manager of the Chandler location.
Photo – Boyarsky meets with Montreal Canadiens’ legends Guy Lafleur (left) and Chris Nilan (right) at the 2015 Bauer World equipment dealer event in mid-September at Montreal’s Bell Centre.