Swiss label Indiana Paddle & Surf, led by Maurus Strobel, is venturing across the Atlantic. So we had to ask a few questions:
First of all, happy new year. It looks like 2022 will be a big year for Indiana as well. You are expanding with Indiana into the USA.
Tell us briefly what was the decisive factor in taking this step?
With the introduction of our Inflatable Foilboards 2019 we got more and more requests from customers from the USA and Canada who saw our stiff and well performing boards via socialmedia . At that time, as far as I know, we were the only ones offering inflatable wingfoil boards with integrated tracks. Shipping single boards from our warehouses in Switzerland or Austria was just too expensive, even from China directly from the factory was not a viable way.
So we decided to look for a logistics partner at our own risk without an importer and start selling via a B2C webshop. Of course, the whole thing doesn’t happen overnight. Finding the right partner and then creating the set-up with import approval and sales tax number in Miami and finally production and transport of the products took a while. Since December 2021 we are operational and deliver to USA and Canada. Until the end of January even with free shipping.
The Stand Up Magazine was the first in the USA to test the Inflatable Foilboard. The response was very good.
How do you assess the US market in general, where do you see opportunities and where threats?
Of course, we were put off by the nasty stories of damage liability lawsuits and the huge distances for logistics within North America. At the moment the transportation costs are brutally high. However, since companies have been selling foils and foilboards for some time now, I estimate the problem with liability lawsuits to be relatively small. We are very far away from this market, but through social media and specialized media like yours, we get very good and close to the right customers without being dependent on distribution or core stores. We can act directly and fast. Good foil products cost money. The price collapse we’ve seen with Inflatable SUPs is unlikely to happen anytime soon, as not every tin-roof factory can put working foils on the market either. Of course, the volumes are also much smaller than iSUPs.
Do you stock all of your products in the U.S. or do you also focus on a specific line of business?
The madness and the big risk to have all products from the catalog with over 130 different boards in stock, we afford only in Switzerland and the EU. At the moment we only have the Inflatable Foilboards in all sizes and the Dockstart Complete Foil 1100P with the corresponding 3’7 Dockstart Carbon Board in stock in Miami. Plus of course single and spare parts. Depending on how it goes, we then also offer other products.
Will we soon see US SUP racers on Indiana at races like the Gorge or Carolina Cup?
Not in the near future.
If a distributor decides to sell our products in North America and fills entire containers from the factory, this scenario becomes likely. However, this would require a clear demand from customers via stores.
Since we already have you on the line: How do you estimate potential the SUP and Foilmarket for 2022?
Steeply upwards. But it needs a lot more offers of courses and camps etc.. Not everyone simply learns dockstart or wingfoiling on their own. The choice of material, the clean adjustment and a pedagogical-didactic smart training process is immensely important. Certain windsurfing and kitesurfing schools could certainly score points, some have certainly hesitated too long. At the moment, I think there is not enough advice available and too many people inform themselves somehow on the net and then buy the wrong material or material that is not tailored to their needs. We are working on getting more partners for the Indiana Foil Competence Centers.
How do you see the potential of Flatwater Foiling you are quite active there? I still miss Foil Pump races with dock start and also Flatwater SUP Foil races with Flatwater Paddlestart? We still don’t see anything, do you think that will change soon?
Our partner Tropical Geneva has already organized pumpfoil competitions last year.
More and more snowboarders, skaters and surfers are starting dockstart foiling. It can be practiced everywhere. It offers adrenaline, cardio training and a great feeling because it seems weightless and without noise. Commercially I see enormous potential, our 1100P pump foil set has sold very well in the last 2 years. The new High Performance Line has 3 different front wings, which work super well for it. Many customers appreciate the independence from wind, wave and other people. Everyone can dockstart foiling at all times of the day and night, even in winter. These people don’t necessarily want to compete in races, but have fun together on the water. I see more of a street skate scene, where people meet and work on style and tricks. You could also call it hydroskating. Our ambassador Steeve Fleury for example is already doing ollies and softgrinds on buoys and Leonard Berner is very creative with one footers and switch etc. If racing, I see boardercross like competitions.
Flatwater SUP foiling is so difficult, I honestly don’t see much potential. In the sea or on large lakes with a lot of wind it looks different, but then most foilers go wingfoiling. In waves and without wind SUP foiling is of course an option, we also have material for that.
Will Indana be a pioneer in this segment?
We push the sport with good products, in the spring we have various different pump-foil boards and corresponding foils with more glide and less drag in the offer. With the Indiana Foiling Brigade, cool videos and presence at events etc. we will animate as many people as possible to dockstart foiling. Since last season we also offer basic foiling courses in the Liniepark near Winterthur. I am convinced that you should first learn foiling under the simplest possible conditions in order to achieve learning success as quickly as possible without injury. So flat water, big board, big foil and constant pull from the water ski lift or boat. If you already know how to foil, you will learn dockstart foiling faster and easier. But many also do it the other way around.
Thank you very much for your time and great success!
Thank you very much same to you for the magazine.
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