Wednesday, 2 October 2013

A New Player In The Game

As you're probably very aware, hockey players spent countless hours working on their sticks through the course of a season. With composite sticks, there is less work being done with a blow torch, but there is still taping and re-taping and finding the right balance with sticks. The one thing I have a problem with, though, is the price of the composite sticks when it comes to the everyday player. Guys in the NHL cut endorsement deals and stuff, so they don't worry too much. But beer leaguers like me? We need a break, man! And one Canadian company is looking to ease the pain on the pocketbook a little.

I had never heard of Honex Hockey before writing today's article, but they are a Canadian company that was founded in Quebec City. They produce carbon-fibre sticks that weigh almost nothing, according to the press release I received via email. Thus far, their product range is limited, but Honex is looking to build on their reputation of making a better, stronger composite stick.

Honex is introducing a new stick called the BOLD that is 100% carbon and only weighs just 425 grams, making it one of the lightest in the industry. The BOLD is a one-piece design, and there are a pile of key words that the Honex presser went over in terms of how this stick is made better.

The Honex people are selling two versions of the BOLD hockey stick. The BOLD 85 comes in two curves and two flexes while the BOLD 100 comes in the same curve and flex flavours. That being said, I couldn't find any news about any professional hockey players who are using the Honex sticks, so I can't tell you how good they are based on hard statistics. What I can tell you is that Honex compares their sticks to composite sticks in the $300-400 range, but Honex prices their sticks at the reasonable price of $169.99.

I had every intention of heading down to my local sports store to grab a stick off the rack and feel how different a BOLD compared to the other sticks around it, but I was a little disappointed when I read in the presser that one should "stay tuned on the website to check at which retailers the stick can be found." If it's not in stores, it better be soon!

There were a couple of things that I noticed when pricing out a stick on the Honex site. They listed the blade curves in terms of Easton, Bauer, and Reebok equivalents. While I get that it may be easier to sell their sticks if one has a comparison tool, I'm not sure that comparing a stick of equal price that is available in local stores is a smart idea when Honex sticks are not available in local stores. Of course, the Reebok equivalent is priced way higher, but that's to be expected. There is a great discussion on the Easton and Bauer blade curves on the HFBoards site regarding the linked examples above, and it's recommended reading for anyone looking for any of the above sticks.

A couple of things concerned me on the presser. Honex wrote,
When it comes to price, HONEX fights to get the lowest possible price and does not banks much profit. In fact, the company does not project to make any profit in next 3 years. That's why HONEX can offer BOLD below 170 dollars* making it one of the best quality stick at lowest possible price.
I get that start-up companies aren't expected to grab a huge chunk of the market in their initial years, but when you come right out and tell that you don't expect to turn a profit in the next three years, who is underwriting these losses? Furthermore, when does this source of money dry up during these unprofitable years? I want stability in a company that is offering me a product. Guarantees and warranties aren't worth the paper they are written on unless there is a proven track record behind the company issuing them. If a company is basically telling everyone that they may not be here in three years depending on their fiscal situation, is this something I want to buy?

Secondly, if Honex isn't in stores yet, what kind of sales figures are we talking about today? You can walk into any hockey store or sports store and gloss over the two-dozen-or-so types of hockey sticks available today, but the key is that people buy hockey sticks from stores because they do all their hockey sticks tests right there. They flex the stick on the floor. They hold it and check the balance. They compare the heights of various sticks. They look at the price tags. In short, you won't sell many if people can't get their hands on them. And people certainly won't spring for a stick online that will require shipping costs if they can head down to Sport Chek and grab a Bauer - the comparable stick as per Honex's website - at the same price minus the shipping costs. Get them into stores, Honex, and then we'll talk.

Finally, if you're going to use actual NHL players' names on your website, the least one could do it spell the names correctly. I know who Getzlaf is, but who is this other guy?
It's not like Nicklas Lidstrom was some no-name player who plugged away on a fourth line. No, this guy was the standard for NHL defencemen for nearly a decade after he had already established himself as one of the game's best. I mean, if you can spell Getzlaf correctly, Lidstrom should be a breeze!

I have not asked for Honex to send me any products, so I cannot tell you if this is something I can endorse. I looked over their site and thought they offered a decent alternative to some of the current equipment on the market. Sure, the press release and the website could use some work, but who doesn't find errors here and there?

What I can tell you is that if they do send me a product, it will be given rigorous testing. I feel they probably do make a quality stick, but I cannot say that with certainty at this point. What I can say with certainty, though, is that Honex has a chance to do something in the stick market if they can get into retail stores. If you want to give the sticks a shot, I'm all ears on this one.

Honex Hockey: are you ready to hone your game?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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