B Is For BroForm
Give them an A for the concept and a B for execution as BroForm.com continues its ambitious attempt to transform the chaotic world of pro-forms into a regulated system.
Launched in October of 1999 by pro-rider/entrepreneur Adam Hostetter and John Telfer, the system so far has over 100 active action-sport manufacturers with another 150 registered. And more than 11,000 users are signed up, of which more than half work in some retail capacity.
“Manufacturers want to reach influencers in their own and related action sports,” says Hostetter. “But pro forms are a nightmare of paperwork for everyone. We have massively simplified the process.”
Retailers, ski areas, or outfitters sign up their employees, who then browse among the registered manufacturers, ordering up to specific limits, provided they meet manufacturers’ preset profiles. BroForm takes a small transaction fee on each end of the process.
Hostetter points out BroForm prevents abuse of the system with shop employees ordering a dozen boards and then reselling them to buddies, something that undermines local retailers. He also points to it as a tangible privilege for employees.
“Why wouldn’t I sign up my employees?” asks World Boards Owner Jay Moore. “It saves a lot of monitoring and paperwork on my part and on the part of my reps, keeps everyone honest, and exposes my employees to additional brands.”
On the manufacturing side, Flow is an active proponent. “I like to be able to set my parameters in advance,” say Craig Wilson. “This is a no-admin system with no paper trail. I want lift ops or whoever to be on our product, but I don’t want to tie up limited manpower resources in getting it to them.”
Hostetter estimates there are 300,000 people working in some capacity in the outdoor industries, ranging from retail employees and lifties to river runners, who are entitled to apply for pro-form gear.
So why the B grade? Mainly because the system works excellently for smaller manufacturers looking for a solid and controlled way of getting their products into the hands of influencers, but not so well for the biggest players. The five snowboard-hardgood manufacturers currently offering product are smaller players. Even Hostetter admits the system needs to have the majority of manufacturers involved to make it work at its optimum.
Burton’s Marketing Director Dave Schriber thinks it’s unlikely that Burton will sign up. “There’s not much benefit for us putting our brand alongside others. And if someone gets five boards from different manufacturers, we just hope he sells the others and keeps the Burton.”¿Matthew Kreitman