Supply chain issues and new technology are on the minds of goals/nets suppliers in 2022.
Advice for Dealers: “Given the state of supply chains and all of the delays, dealers may need to focus on lead times more than anything these days,” advises national sales manager Chris Livingston, who points out that Bison manufactures 95 percent of its products in the U.S. “While we are experiencing a few delays with our domestic suppliers, it’s nothing compared to overseas. We’re currently in a good position with our inventory outside of a couple of items, so we’d like to think we have shorter lead times than our competitors.”
Technology Trends: Bison has spent time working on better ways to ship its products. “Although it’s not exciting, the improvements we’ve made have dramatically cut down on lost and damaged freight and reduces the stress and frustration that the dealer and the dealer’s customers have to deal with,” says Livingston. Bison has also focused on some re-design of some of its longer products such as soccer goals to reduce the cost of freight.
New Product Focus: New for 2022 will be Bison’s BA980P Zip Crank height adjuster for T-Rex portable basketball systems. This will be an optional height adjuster that will allow for height adjustment without losing setback distance from the backboard to the base.
Advice for Dealers: Matt Klein, senior product manager, suggests selling what works and what is needed. For Champro in 2022 that means its Gravity Weighted soccer goal, which meets the need of dealers to carry a stronger designed product with less focus on accessory components — it allows dealers to sell the goal with a weighted base without having to commit to cumbersome weighted accessories.
Technology Trends: “The strength of the athlete improves each year and we don’t see this changing,” says Klein. By improving the strength of the entire goal the technology has strengthened itself alongside the athlete.
New Product Focus: Champro’s product focus is on pop-up soccer goals. Looking to make pop-up soccer goals more efficient in 2022, Champro incorporated the basic functions of weighted supports embedded into the soccer goal frame. “The purpose is to achieve the desired function of the pop-up goal, which is to perform to high standards without tipping over,” Klein explains. Players and coaches can now carry its Gravity Weighted soccer goal from grass to turf without concerns of the goals tipping over during use due to the Perimeter Weight System it engineered into its goal frames.
Advice for Dealers: One way for team dealers to sell more nets is to have them in stock, points out Russ Schirmer, director of sales. “With container ships not finding their way into ports and the price of shipping – as well as those products in the containers – continuing to rise, we’ve seen a huge increase in requests for our high-quality nylon goal nets,” he says. “Not only do our customers mention that the quality of the nets is exponentially better, but they can also get them on a timely basis without ordering a ton of product that may sit for a long period of time.”
Technology Trends: Schirmer believes that “the demand for quality U.S.-made nylon nets, including goal nets, continues a trend we’ve seen over the last few years. We expect that trend to continue.”
Advice for Dealers: “Over the past 10 years we’ve seen a decline in team dealers stocking quick-sell products such as basketball rims, backboard pads and nets for sports such as basketball, tennis, soccer and volleyball and this limits their ability to immediately fulfill local needs, which in turn creates opportunities for big box online sales,” says Laura St. George. Gared offers stock pricing programs to its team dealer network, which increases their ability to serve their local athletic needs. “In today’s climate, product selection flexibility is key to quickly converting needs into sales volume,” she adds. “Additionally, partnering with suppliers that carry an extensive product line allows dealers to pivot to alternative solutions that will continue to accommodate play level and budgets.” One of Gared’s core pillars is to activate play spaces for all athlete skill levels, sport category and budget, giving its dealers the tools to maximize sales opportunities.
Technology Trends: With consumers being more environmentally concerned, Gared’s focus has been to reduce its carbon footprint, which includes reduction of paper waste, recyclable packaging and implementing lean manufacturing processes. This has led us to a more complete technology integration and allows it to keep digital marketing materials updated regularly.
New Product Focus: Gared is launching several new products and has updated the top caps and winches on all of its volleyball systems to make our systems easier to operate for facility personnel.
• The Carbon Flare volleyball system is comprised of a lightweight carbon fiber material, which is much stronger than steel but lightweight for facility personnel to transport the uprights on and off the court.
• The OuterLimit Portable Basketball System is a re-introduction of its legacy brand portable series into professional basketball arenas worldwide. These new systems satisfy the heavy play requirements of top basketball programs and accommodate facility personnel’s requirements for ease of operation, transport and storage.
Advice for Dealers: Communication is key, according to national sales manager Mike Cunningham, who urges dealers to have conversations with their athletic directors and coaches to find out what their pain is with purchasing goals and nets. “Once there is a clear definition of their wants and needs, you have the ability to showcase your solutions,” he says.
Technology Trends: “Safety and performance longevity is the name of the game,” Cunningham says. With so many athletes utilizing so many goals, sports administrators/coaches want to feel confident the equipment they are purchasing is going to keep athletes safe when used correctly and if taken care of properly will last many seasons with minimal replacement parts.
New Product Focus: Gill Athletics is focusing on highly functioning, long-lasting goals that programs can use confidently season after season. This takes form in high-quality net materials, safety features on ball stop systems and customer service after the sale. Its best-selling goal product is its U90 Portable World Cup Goal, a high-functioning soccer goal with on-board World Cup style backstays. It includes custom color choice for backstays.
Advice for Dealers: “First and foremost, be sure to let your customers know that you carry hard goods like batting cages and nets, soccer goals and lacrosse goals,” advises Neal Halvorson, director of business development, who points out that team dealers have a unique advantage over all catalog and online direct sellers in that they can meet with the AD, coach or facility director in person to talk or even walk their campus to see what equipment needs they may have. “They are also able to service the customer after the sale, sometimes even offering to help assemble goals if it will help close a sale,” he adds.
Technology Trends: “As more facilities, both indoor and outdoor, continue to evolve into multi-sport facilities, portability has been a driving factor in product development,” Halvorson says. That means that lighter materials, less parts and the ability to be moved on and off the field or court quickly will continue to push innovation in these products.
New Product Focus: With Trigon’s recent acquisition of Practice Partner, the company has expanded its product lines in soccer, lacrosse and hockey to include everything from backyard and recreational goals, all the way to official NFHS/ NCAA goals in each of those categories. Practice Partner, now a Trigon Sports brand, is introducing redesigned Silverline soccer goals — available in 6’x9’ and 6’x12’ sizes, for all levels and ages of play.
FIRST TEAM SPORTS
Advice for Dealers: Many coaches and ADs may not be aware of the condition of their existing equipment, so “ask them specifically about their replacement needs and if possible, to inspect the equipment,” advises VP Jeff Roth. Breakaway basketball rims often are sloppy and not up to spec and should be replaced. Basketball backboard padding is often needed as well. The same rule of thumb applies to volleyball posts and nets and soccer goals and nets.
Technology Trends: First Team continues to invest in technology that allows it and its production partners to manufacture its products more efficiently. “Production technology will continue to be a strong focus for us in 2022, especially as 2021 has seen supply chain issues and unprecedented demand push production capacities to their limits,” Roth says.
New Product Focus: First Team’s Powermount Ultra is designed to satisfy extra tight spaces where traditional wall mounted basketball systems won’t fit. The Powermount steel support structure provides a 36x54 tempered glass backboard that sits just 15 inches off the wall. The unit includes its heavy duty FT186 flex rim and net.