Editor’s Note: Muamer Razic got the chance to speak with the guys BEHIND your lacrosse shafts. True Temper Lacrosse isn’t so much of a brand that sells direct to consumers, as much as it is a supplier TO brands. So if you really want to know what’s going on behind the flashy graphics and marketing pitches of equipment manufacturers look no further! Here’s the inside scoop….
Hardly any of the “big name” lacrosse companies are so open about having a “testing group” for their equipment, what made you guys decide that this would be a good way to go?
It’s pretty easy actually. Our competition isn’t STX, Brine, or Maverik, but it is actually Chinese manufacturers. We have two groups that do the researching and testing and at the end of the day the shaft needs to perform in lacrosse players’ hands. So we get the shaft into their hands and use the feedback they give us. Then we get everything together (if they liked it, how many broke, etc.) then we go to STX, or any other company, and sell it to them, and then they market the shaft.
True Temper is very popular in golf, have you used/modified any of the technology from your golf sticks into your lacrosse shafts?
Yes, our Flex technology; that is a complete carry over from our golf and hockey products. What we do is get everyone together 4 times a year and brainstorm. Then we get the great ideas and technology that have already performed well in the other product lines and apply that in our lacrosse shafts.
I know you guys aren’t real big on marketing so how do you get your name out there?
We just knock on the company’s door. It’s that simple. Our customer base is about 10 companies worldwide, so when we started we just talked to them and gave them our ideas and results from the testing we had done.
Can you “dumb down” how you do business for us a little bit? Why don’t you sell the shafts as True Temper to the consumer instead of having the “where to buy” section on your page?
We develop the shaft, test it, and then sell the design/idea to the company.
Is it possible that in the future you will start selling straight to the consumer?
No. In our opinion you can be great at one aspect of it, and our focus is in engineering and manufacturing.
Do you guys get jealous? You pretty much do all the hard work and then have another lacrosse company sell the shafts so players think that it’s that company’s shaft, when you really came up with the technology for it?
Absolutely not, at the end of the day they are our partners. If they succeed then we succeed. If they sell a lot then they buy more from us. We strategically pick out who we work with and we want to stay with the innovative brands.
What do you mean by “Be a True Player” “Player Driven”?
We want complete and true players. That’s our test team, and we ask for feedback all the time. We don’t constantly want to hear only what you love; we also want to hear what they don’t like. We want stay true to the tradition of the game and we don’t pay anyone to market or use or shafts. For example, 90% of PGA tour golf players play with our shafts and they don’t get paid to use it. We strive for legitimacy in what we do.
What goes into developing the technology for a lacrosse stick?
As we get our groups together and brainstorm and get ideas, we look at golf and hockey and see what worked there and see what could be applied to lacrosse in shooting, and getting checked. We look at weight, speed, durability, and then get a product development review (idea) that we then give to the engineers and they get to work. So they make a drawing (blue print) and design the tooling and what will give us the performance benefits we are looking for. Our shafts will never be over or under 185 grams. We came up with 185 grams because we took all the shafts out there and tested them and that was the average weight we came up with.
How long does it usually take to develop new technology?
To do develop it and get it into testing I would say about 4 months. Then lab tests take about a month and field testing takes about a year and a half. We take the longest time there so we can get honest feedback on everything.
You run lots of tests to ensure the durability and performance of your product, do you come up with more tests that you could run that would tests different aspects of the shafts durability/performance or do you guys stick with the current tests you have?
Yes. Most kids use the cool cosmetics to determine what shaft they buy. So we look to define and demonstrate what our shafts can do and set a standard for the lacrosse companies. We demonstrate everything to that company then they market it and come up with what it looks like and that’s the biggest advantage to the consumer, because the companies truly know what the shaft can do, and how it responds to the testing.
A lot of players don’t know about the technology that goes into the shafts, could you simplify your “Smart-Ply Technology”?
It is one of our greatest technologies and we have used it for about 10 years. It’s a very specific lay up behind the shafts. Engineers align the fiber angles and that helps give the shaft certain performance.
How did you come up with the Ergo Feel Technology? What were some of the results from the Ergo Feel testing?
One of the things we’ve concentrated on is the feel of the shaft. So we did a lot of research on ergonomics and found that defenders and goalies like more ovular shapes and it is more beneficial to them because it allows quicker hands and quicker checks.
Everyone loves titanium shafts, how is it possible that you made the shafts stronger using Attack-Lite technology, without increasing the weight of the shaft?
Behind our alloy line we remove material from the walls and put it in the corners where the most checks occur and it makes the shaft lighter and stronger.
Can the SC+20 be compared to a STX Sci-Ti/Scandium Pro or would you say that it is lighter without giving up the integrity of the shaft?
Absolutely. We utilize a specific material and it’s about 20% stronger then scandium shafts out there.
No one’s perfect, how does True Temper plan to improve their products for the future?
We use the feedback we get from our test teams and then apply that to our shafts. That’s why surveys really help us understand what people like and don’t like about our product.
The game is changing daily, how do you plan to keep up with the technology?
We are lacrosse shaft technology (not trying to be arrogant). We take the player demands and use what they have to say to determine how our shafts are developed. We ask players from all over the country what they want and use that to spread the grid because every player wants something a little bit different and we want to meet the needs of the players out there and then develop it for everyone.
Lacrosse if growing RAPIDLY, how does True Temper help “Grow the Game” now and in the future?
My dad started lacrosse in North Texas so I’ve always been about GTG. We send shafts to Prague, Africa, and many other places so they have shafts to use so they can learn about the game.
What was the moving force behind True Temper becoming a part of the Lacrosse market?
Our company is an innovator of performance tubing so any types of stuff that needs tubing (golf, hockey, antennas for the military, etc.) we make and are the world leaders in it so, lacrosse was a great fit.
Does True Temper associate themselves with any team? College, High-School, Club, etc.
We do have our test teams at D3 schools. It helps us understand what our shafts can do and how the players like them.
Do the surveys you guys have available improve the quality of your shafts and actually affect how they are developed?
Yes they do. I get a report about twice a day about what’s been going on. Right now, we have about 220 results for the survey and are hoping to get more feedback!
Thanks for stopping by to give us a good look behind the curtain! It sounds like things are going well at True Temper Lacrosse!
I have got to say, the prototype shaft they sent me is amazing! I love the way the shaft feels and how lightweight it is. Not only that, but it’s durable as well. I know it sounds like the same thing that every lacrosse company says about their shafts but these guys have been testing and developing this shaft for about 2 years and do everything they can to make sure it’s a hit with the lacrosse community. When I was doing the interview with Ryan I mentioned the grip wearing away a little and he went and got Neal Haas who is their director of engineering and let me speak with him about it.
He explained to me that a small batch of the prototypes they developed were cured incorrectly when they had the paint and other things applied so it made the grip come off a little bit easier and immediately offered to send me a new shaft that wouldn’t have the grip come off! I told him it was okay and that I still loved the shaft, I mean come on, how many companies do you know that would get their director of engineering to talk to you when you bring up something about the shaft AND immediately offer you a new one. The guys that work for this company are great and really care about what the consumer thinks.
ANYWAY, back to the grip on the shaft, they have developed a special type of coating that makes it easier for you to slide your fingers along the shaft and also have more grip and security when you want to throw a check. It’s a great idea that they came up with and I think it will be a huge hit.
Thank you Ryan and Neal for the awesome interview!