Sector 9 Shares What Is Next For The Iconic Brand with Transworld Business
Santa Fe Springs, CA – Sector 9, a preeminent global provider of skateboards, recently sat down with Transworld Business to discuss the company plans for the future.
Along with the vision for the heritage brand, the article touched on Bravo Sports’ specialty retail division, which focuses on the core market. The article also discussed the new Sorrento Valley headquarters that Sector 9 will share with Pro-Tec, moving the distribution to Bravo Sports’ Santa Fe Springs headquarters, and streamlining the business so the company can focus on moving the brand forward, prototyping, collaborations and fostering talent.
Founder and Brand Director Dennis Telfer also talked about getting back to the company’s roots. Telfer said. “We are excited to be able to focus on the brand, product design, and doing what we need to better compete in the market.”
The brand and its new parent company have remained fairly silent up until now about internal infrastructure, and what the change in ownership truly means for Sector 9 — a brand that was instrumental in creating and leading the longboard, “surf the pavement” movement that ignited in the ‘90s and has carried through today.
Sector 9 Global Marketing Director Bob Tanner and Founder / Brand Director Dennis Telfer
But as it quickly approaches its 25 year anniversary in 2018, Sector 9 is ready to discuss its evolving strategy, which includes streamlining the San Diego, Calif.-based business to share a custom-built space and some internal functions with sister brand Pro Tec. Change is never easy, and at times can be especially challenging for heritage brands, but Founder and Brand Director Dennis Telfer says this strategic move will only bolster the business and make it more efficient.
Sector 9 and Pro Tec will move into the new Sorrento Valley headquarters September 1. The space will house sales, marketing and design, while all specialty skate distribution will now be out of Bravo Sports’ main distribution facility in Santa Fe Springs. Pro Tec is already shipping from this location.
“In a way, it’s like we are going back to our roots,” Telfer said. “The first actual warehouse we had after starting the brand was in Sorrento Valley.”
Mark Heineken, chief brand officer for Bravo Sports, parent company to Sector 9.
For Sector 9, the move will affect a portion of the brand’s manufacturing: it currently produces roughly 40% of its boards out of the current 73,000-square-foot San Diego facility. That portion of the brand’s production will be moved to the same partners who currently make the other 60% of Sector 9’s products, while all shipping and distribution will be fulfilled through Bravo’s 125,000-square-foot warehouse.
“Sector 9 has been doing business with these proven partners for decades, so we are extremely confident that our quality and delivery times will remain excellent,” Bravo Chief Brand Officer Mark Heineken said.
In turn, the elimination of manufacturing in-house will also see the loss of some of Sector’s warehouse employees. Overall however, it will be a positive shift for the internal team — a tight knit family, many of whom have been part of the company since Sector’s inception. “We have periodically looked at the wood shop at our current space and thought of going down this road before,” Telfer said, explaining that the expense of constant upkeep was at times challenging. “With our lease now being up, it was the perfect storm. And with our parent company’s massive warehouse facility, it only makes sense for them to take on this part of the business.”
Bravo Sports Los Angeles-based headquarters boasts more than 150,000 square feet of total space, with a 125,000-square-foot warehouse.
The new shared headquarters will have a prototyping facility, “but there will be a lot less to manage,” Telfer said. “We are excited to be able to focus on the brand, product design, and doing what we need to better compete in the market.”
The motivation behind Bravo’s acquisitions of both Sector 9 and Pro Tec was to form a division of the company that would provide distribution into the specialty channel, which previously did not exist for Bravo Sports, Heineken offers.
Based out of Los Angeles county, Bravo holds licensing for many mainstream brands like Disney, Marvel, and Nickolodeon, and also owns brands like Darkstar, Satellite skateboards, and Kryptonics. Most of these brands are sold at large chain retailers, such as Walmart, which also gives Sector 9 an advantage, explains Telfer: the open lines of communication between these mass retailers and Bravo prevents Sector 9 and Pro Tec products from making their way into that space.
Sector 9 x Kookslams “Out There” board is one of several product focuses that hone in on the core audience.
“We’ve had a lot of communication with our retailers over the past year — many of them were concerned we were going to go mass market with our product [because of Bravo’s brand stable], which clearly isn’t the case, but it’s something you can only prove over time. ” Telfer said. “Bravo does sell a lot of boards at these mass retailers like Target and Walmart, and they feel like they own that market. They acquired us because they wanted to hone in on the specialty market.”
Bravo also sees leverage in Sector 9 and Pro Tec’s authentic specialty retail position: Mainly, as a stepping stone between its youth consumer whose parents start them with chain store products, and a more mature audience of young adults, “extending the company’s product offerings into the next lifecycle,” Heineken explains.
Mason Ho, Pipe. Photo: Laserwolf
Sector has continued to build on that heritage since being acquired, releasing a collaboration with Bob Marley in June, with additional shapes and graphics to hit at Agenda Long Beach in a few weeks. The brand will also release a signature board for Mason Ho, and the first-ever women’s signature board for the brand with Tia Blanco — something Telfer and team feel is paving the way organically for the brand in the women’s space.
This year also saw the launch of Sector 9’s youth program, a team that will foster young talent with help from mentors like Blanco and other Sector 9 riders. The brand hopes that by staying connected to the core of action sports with authentic collaborations, like their upcoming Kookslams x Sector 9 “Out There” board, they will see organic growth.
Tia Blanco and the 9 Ball Truck. Photo: Burro
With the 25-year mark coming into view, Telfer says he’s confident in Sector 9’s position — and that the skateboard market as a whole is bouncing back after several years of saturation. “It’s no secret there were some tough years, but I feel like we are getting back to a healthy balance, and I hope it will keep moving in that direction,” he said.
And in terms of its future with Bravo, Sector 9 appears to be positioned for positive growth. “Billabong was great to work with, but Bravo has more interest, and is knowledgeable and understands the skate hardgoods market. They make skateboards — they have expertise in this category, so it’s been great.”