Here at Northern Soul, we've been huge fans of True Temper for a number of years. Look around fields across the World and you're bound to see their logo on players shafts, we always knew there would come a time when True Temper was more than handles and this year, they have outdone themselves with the Zerolyte and Dynamic lines.
We were lucky enough to spend some time talking to True Tempers, Will Madrid.
Who are you and what's your role?
Hello Northern Soul (Jason), first, thank you for the opportunity to showcase our company and product. And thank you for being a valued retail-partner. We cannot be successful without your success!
My name is Will Madrid, and I am currently the Director of Product and Global Sales in the Lacrosse unit at True Temper Sports. I joined the company in the spring of 2021 as the Director of Sales and only recently took the helm of the product department as well. In a nutshell, the product team makes sure we deliver product on time, at the right price, and to the proper specifications. We have a global supply chain that is overseen by a great operations department so bringing product to your retail shelf is a team effort. The sales team works everyday to empower our retail partners, like Northern Soul, with the tools for a shared success. Retailers need have the right product assortment at the right time to meet the needs of the player.
How did you get involved with Lacrosse?
Lacrosse was not a mainstream sport in the 80s and 90s in Southern California. I grew up playing the traditional American team sports, but also loved skateboarding, street hockey, golf, and surfing. I played pretty much did any sport that didn’t involve snow or the cold! When lacrosse came on the scene on was, of course, intrigued. I really fell in love with the game in college at UCLA. I had some great coaches that fueled my passion. I still talk to many of them to this day. What really captured my heart was the camaraderie and connection the players had. Something not found in the other sports I had participated in. Lacrosse was a way of life, kind of like surfing, but with a band of teammates that were more like brothers. I continued my “lacrosse career” as a coach for the next decade and it was because of my coaching that I quickly got deeper into the equipment business. You can’t grow the game if you don’t have any gear for players to use!
TRUE (True Temper) made handles for other brands for a number of years. What was the point that TRUE (True Temper) decided to launch their own lacrosse brand?
Correct, True Temper, has the distinct advantage of having our own manufacturing facilities all over the world, including the United States. This vertical integration allows us to have greater control over our technologies, materials, and production. For many years, True Temper’s facilities supplied the leading lacrosse companies with premium shafts. It was about seven years ago that True Temper decided to get into the business under their own branding. Initially launched as “True Lacrosse”, True Temper Lacrosse has evolved from a shaft-only brand to one that offers anything from strung heads to NOCSAE shoulder pads.
Which product are you most proud of, and how are you able to top it?
Well…we have some exciting product coming down the road, but out of the current line the DYNAMIC head and glove are personal favorites. Sorry, I couldn’t choose just one! The DYNAMIC head features an all-new design, new materials, and a new production facility. We knew that our head line needed to improve and set out to start from scratch. Players will notice the increased toughness and long-lasting performance of the new nylon material we used. Furthermore, we never had a head that had the sidewall rail drop towards the scoop. Players that prefer a mid or high pocket will really feel the difference in control. Lastly, the gold Hammers badge provides a polished, rich look to inspire confidence. Like with the head project, we tasked ourselves with making the best glove in the world. The DYNAMIC glove is all about the player’s needs. We went to the best glove facility in the world, sourced new premium materials, and let performance drive the design. This glove feels like an extension of the hand…we want the player to forget they are even wearing gloves!
We believe that we can always get better. The game and the player continue to evolve. Equipment will both follow these changes and drive innovation in play. If we can dream it, it can be done.
How did TRUE TEMPER adapt to the pandemic?
We were fortunate to have a small team compared to some of the legacy brands. Our General Manager, Tom Burns, did a fantastic job managing the business and maintaining morale. We have a culture of communication and flexibility at True Temper. While remote work is a challenge for many companies, True Temper, was uniquely positioned to succeed. We continue to provide our team with industry-leading balance because of this culture of communication.
What's the process of developing an idea into a top-class product?
Oh dear, we could fill several books answering this question! We are looking at an approximately 3-year process from inception to retail peg. Importantly, the idea for a new product starts with the player. What is NOT currently working for them? Is this an opportunity? Is this a commercially viable opportunity? Next the product needs to be designed to meet the new characteristics AND “look good”. How subjective is that last part!?! Luckily, we’re able to take art, 3D printed models, and even “Frankensteined” samples out to players and retailers for valuable feedback. We then must develop the product: source materials, cut steel into molds, work on logos, textures, colors, packaging, etc. All the way, we are making, testing, and seeking feedback from samples. Concurrently, we are working on sales and marketing plans: retail price, wholesale programs, pictures, videos, digital assets, etc. We then need to fill our warehouses with product to ship to our partners come the Fall. If we have a good idea that provides a tangible benefit to the player AND we take care of all the above steps, the finished product has a good chance of success.
What new product are you most excited about?
We’re working on some new shafts that are unlike anything on the market today. We need to evolve from shafts just being a metal or composite tube. The shaft can be the engine for performance.
TRUE TEMPER is a multi-sport brand. Is there much crossover within R&D between the sports?
We are fortunate to have a state-of-the-art R&D facility in San Diego, CA. I really think we best material scientists and engineers in the sporting goods world. So much innovation in material and processes are possible because we are also developing and manufacturing for golf, hockey, and baseball. These sports are just so much bigger than lacrosse. We can take chances that the other guys cannot.
Best lacrosse memory?
So many of my best memories are on the sideline as a head coach. I remember young players making a crucial ground ball or first goal. Those smiles stick with you forever and make it all worthwhile. Don’t get me wrong, me and my college/club teammates still get together all the time and reminisce about the comebacks, meltdowns, and injuries. Too many moments to pick just one.
Who will win the next National Champs?
Where do you see the company in 5 years' time?
We’re going to continue to innovate product and develop our company culture for success. You will see us in a few new categories as well look to cover the player from head to toe. I am grateful for the opportunity that True Temper has provided me and the team. Success will be a product of our passion.