Ingemar Backman has teamed with longtime business associates Greger Hagelin and Mike Mezowa to launch a line of snowboards. The new company's name, Allian, is short for “alliance,” and represents Ingemar's vision of “a global union of riders who want to see snowboarding continually evolve and break the known barriers.”
Plans for the company were put together by Hagelin and Backman this summer. “First, we talked to few people to see if they were interested in distributing it,” says Hagelin. “Then we looked for investors.”
Backman, Hagelin, and Mezowa are the three owners, says Mark McCorkle, who will be working for Allian in the United States. Mezowa will be moving from Japan to the United States to work on the brand.
In Japan, Allian will work with Advance marketing. In the U.S., the company has opened an office in Beaverton, Oregon and is looking for reps. “In Europe we will have our own office in Stockholm, Sweden,” says Hagelin. “But we'll work with distributors in every country. Our distributors are respected skateboard and snowboard distributors who will work with both skateboard/snowboard stores and also with some good sport stores.”
Hagelin says that launching a snowboard brand is always a challenge, but that the current market also presents some opportunities. “I know there are a lot of people out there who are really sick of seeing what the snowboard market has turned into,” he says. “Most all of the small cool companies have either gone bankrupt or are being bought up by the big companies.
“Our goal is to be one of those small companies with great managment, a great team, and great products. But we also have great financing, and we will survive.”
The boards will be produced at the Elan factory, and prototypes should be ready by the SIA Vegas Show. “We'll produce what we sell and need for marketing,” says Hagelin. “I can't tell you more right know because we haven't started selling yet. But we won't make the same mistakes and overproduce like about twenty other companies have done.”
So what will make Allian stand out in an already crowded market? “Good products, high image, limited distribution, great marketing, and good financial backing–we'll also build up one of the best teams in the in the world,” says Hagelin. “Backman is an owner of the company, and for the first time in two years he's free of injuries and really eager to ride and do a lot of photo shoots. Babs Charlet is also now riding for us, and we are discussing contracts with a few American and Japanese riders as well.”
According to McCorkle, the Allian line is tentatively slated to include twelve boards, including a Charlet pro model.