Editor’s Note: Connor Wilson and Muamer Razic decided to team up and interview C-12 Lacrosse, a new company to the lax market, and what they learned was pretty darn impressive! Connor has reviews of both the C-12 carbon fiber short stick AND the longstick coming up next week (here’s a hint: the quality is SUPER high!!!!!), but for now, read on and get to know C-12 a little better. If Connor’s raving about the shafts is any indication, these could get very popular, very fast.
What was the motivation/inspiration behind starting the company?
It was the same as all the companies that fall under the entro-group of companies, Entrotech Composites, llc. Entrotech was approached by a customer who presented to us, what they considered a carbon fiber industry wide problem. We solved the problem and patented the intellectual property and formed an LLC. This was the genesis of Entrotech composites, llc.
C-12 is the brand name for Entrotech composites line of sporting goods.
You guys have some cool designs, how do you come up with them?
Although most of our designs are initiated from customer input, our graphic designer is very talented. Once he gets 2 or 3 ideas from our customers, he rolls with his creative side and comes up with some really fantastic designs. Our shafts designs are the hook that gets the customers attention, but it’s the performance of the shaft that they ultimately fall in love with.
I was watching a video on the US Lacrosse convention vendors, when you we’re interviewed you said that you guys had 0 field failures, is that still true?
Yes, it’s still true to this day!
As proud as we are of this and want to bang our chests, we prefer NOT to say C-12 Lacrosse shafts are “Unbreakable”. We prefer to say, “C-12 Lacrosse shafts are designed not to fail in the field of play”. As soon as someone claims C-12 Lacrosse shafts are unbreakable, some 11th grader in high school will wrap it around a fence post. And he may be able to break it, but I promise you his hands will be hurting.
Strength is one of the key selling points we emphasize. We completed 2 ½ years of field beta testing before we felt we had a product that was ready to go to market. We have rolled out a parallel positioning approach. If you’re a veteran player, let’s say High School and above, we position C-12 as the only 100% carbon fiber shaft that can withstand the physicality of the sport at the highest level. If the player is a younger laxer, we position C-12 as an investment, since it will improve their playing skills and last a very long time.
I also don’t want to forget to mention that C-12 shafts do not dent or bend, and inherently, carbon fiber dampens energy allowing for better ball control when being checked. Titanium, aluminum and other alloys act as tuning forks when being checked, transferring the energy to the head increasing the likelihood of the ball popping loose.
What C-12 Lacrosse potential customers need to consider is the cost of ownership. Many laxers are breaking multiple shafts per year, and this is especially true long pole players.
We knew from the beginning that the reputation of carbon fiber shafts was questionable at best, and we knew that at the higher levels of play, less carbon fiber shafts were being used. Why?
Because they break. So the challenge for C-12 was overcoming the perception of carbon fiber as a material that could not withstand the physicality of the sport, but we also knew this was our opportunity to differentiate.
Have you been pleased with the outcome/performance of your shafts in the market?
The market has exceeded our expectations. We hit the ground running in 2010 and before the year was over, we had to increase the scalability of our business to meet demand and we have now expanded into a larger manufacturing location. It was a nice problem to have. But we are not stopping there, our 2012 product line is complete and it’s Dirty, Sweet and Sick.
Your “HP Attack Weapon” claims to increase shot speed by 5% and improve accuracy, does it live up to the hype? And how is it possible for a lacrosse shaft to do improve accuracy?
It’s not just hype; we have statistically significant data that validates that statement. We spent hours both internally and with third party laxers behind the radar gun. Most players see a 2-3% increase, but if you’re a real goon, you can see 5% increases in ball speed with our attack shafts and up to 10% increase on our long poles.
During radar testing besides clocking ball speeds, we chart ball location. Repeatedly we see tighter ball groupings with a C-12 then we did with the competitors shafts.
I see that you don’t have the same type of lacrosse shafts for Attack and Defense, how come? Most companies offer the same type of shafts in Attack/Middie and Defense.
We played around a lot with branding and naming of shafts in the beginning. It seems to be ever evolving. Our competitors think cool names will sell shafts; we think superior technology that is cool will sell more shafts. Although the C-12 names are different the technology behind them are all very similar.
I’ve seen your YouTube videos on the performance of your shafts (standing on a shaft, and shaft dead lift) In both of those videos it’s clear that the shafts bend but they do not break, and then they don’t have any permanent bends in them when you are done with the testing. I was speechless, how did you guys make the shafts like that?
It’s pretty freakish isn’t it? The dude in those YouTube’s is 6’2” and 215 lbs. When he did the same test with his Sci-Ti Pro it ended up broken and in the garbage.
Your question is a good one and often asked. We are very protective of our technology and you will find we speak very little about it, kind of like a Skunk Works operation. We have just figured out what others have not been able to do and that how to engineer a shaft that is designed not bent bend or break in the field of play.
Standing on a shaft!
You guys pride yourselves on the integrity of your shafts, whether it be with the engineering, or the special film that adds protection to the shafts, how do you come up with/use this technology in your lacrosse shafts?
To start, C-12 Lacrosse is part of a larger entity called Entrotech Inc. and Entrotech composites (C-12 Lacrosse) is just one of the advanced materials businesses that falls under the entro-group of companies. We are the benefactors of a lot of brilliant minds. I would venture to say, that we may be the only lacrosse manufacturer that understands the technology of the shafts we will sell from the molecular level on up.
Lacrosse shafts are not the only products that we will push into the sporting goods market, but when we were doing our market research in the sporting goods market, all indicators pointed to the lacrosse market for our technology. Lacrosse shafts are tubular structures, and they need to be light and strong. These all align nicely with our technology. Plus, it has been one of the fastest growing sports in North America over the past 10 years.
That growth in and of itself made lacrosse attractive, but when we realized that there has been very little innovation on the shaft side of the market since 1992 when titanium was introduced, it was clear to us we had something special and disruptive.
Let’s face it, aluminum, titanium and any other alloy hybrid shaft that is out there is obsolete technology in the world of advanced materials.
To be honest, your shafts are quite expensive, but they seem worth it (Connor can certainly vouch for that!). Why do they cost so much? Is it due to the technology that goes into the shafts or some other factor?
We are not the most expensive shafts, but we are priced in the top quartile of the lacrosse shaft market. We also firmly believe that we offer the greatest value. When you have a product that can be customized, does not dent or bend and offers superior performance, we believe we are priced in the sweet spot.
As an outcome of the recent recession, one of the national trends that consumers are telling manufacturers is that they are moving away from their throw away & disposable life styles and they are willing to invest in things that will last. We are proud of the fact that our technology was developed in the U.S. A. and proud of the fact our products are made in the U.S.A.
We are manufacturing the world’s highest performing lacrosse shaft.
I ask everyone/company this question; what are you guys doing to help grow the Game?
The most important thing we have done to grow the sport of lacrosse is that we have invested in the development of advanced materials and creating new products. Whether it’s lighter, stronger or customizable – it’s new and innovative.
Secondly, we donated many shafts to non-profit organizations that are spreading the word about lacrosse to less privileged countries.
Finally, one thing that continues to impress me is the willingness of former players to give back to the sport. Our Team at C-12 Lacrosse gives back by offer shooting clinics, supporting tournaments and coaching local teams.
Carbon Fiber shafts have been around for a while now, but they never took off due to a lot of breakage and inconsistency. What were your experiences with Carbon Fiber shafts like when you started?
As earlier mentioned, competitive carbon fiber shaft manufacturers created our biggest obstacle to overcome, which is the perception that carbon fiber shafts can not withstand the aggressive nature of the sport. But with valid data and player testimonies, we are surely changing that stigma.
What advances in technology and the application of that technology made carbon fiber shafts a much more viable option?
I would say the validation of the technology by the Department of Defense and the Aerospace industry.
What can C-12 do to dispel the myth that CF shafts aren’t worth the price tag? This could prove especially daunting when you consider that until recently (last 10 years); CF technology has been iffy on the lacrosse field. How do you combat that now false assertion by consumers?
It’s the understanding of Price vs. Value and the cost of ownership for the life of the product. I’m a believer that you get what you pay for! If we continue to produce the world’s highest performing lacrosse shaft, the myth will be shattered. As far the combating the false perception of CF by consumers, I’m hoping that interviews like we are having will help spread the C-12 Lacrosse word.
Does Carbon Fiber have other applications in the lacrosse world? Where could C-12 go with this technology in the future?
There are certainly other applications. Lax Heads come to mind first, but I am not a liberty to discuss that at this point. Lax Goals are also a nice fit for our technology. They would be ultra-light, strong and corrosion resistant.
Are there other sports that you can learn from? Are any of the advances being borrowed from a sport like golf? Or do they originate in the lacrosse industry for the most part?
Yes, we originally validated our technology by working with a premier bicycle manufacturer. However, they were sold and took their manufacturing off shore and we would not allow our technology go to China. What we learned from that relationship is that we really had something special.
Military applications are often extremely expensive as they are also often highly experimental, have you seen any advances there that could be pulled over to lacrosse?
The fact is that our technology is in aerospace applications. The same technology and tolerances that are used in our lacrosse shafts are specified by Honeywell in the new generation of carbon fiber airplane fuselages. We know that CF is the next advanced material. CF is tracking the same life cycle that aluminum did when it was first discovered. No one really knew what to do with it so they made tea kettles out of it. Then the Department of Defense and the Aerospace industry got a hold of it, validated the technology and began making airplanes out of it. Guess what Boeing and Airbus are making their fuselages out of today? Not aluminum or titanium, but Carbon Fiber.
Thanks to the guys over a C-12 for such in depth and interesting answers! The review of these products is just around the corner so stay tuned and think about joining the carbon fiber revolution in lacrosse… it’s coming. How soon til you get on board?