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March 12, 2007 – Company with ties to NFL debuts at Indy

March 12, 2007
Filed under Features

INDIANAPOLIS — An equipment protection company with ties to some of the biggest names in sports, including the NFL and major college programs, is turning its attention to the powersports industry.
Shock Doctor, a privately held company, debuted at Dealer Expo 2007, showing off a patented product that not only is designed to increase safety, but reduce fatigue and increase performance. All of those big tasks are wrapped up in one small product — a mouth guard.
That’s just one of the products the Minnesota-based company has found success in producing for traditional sports markets. In fact, company officials say their patents ensure Shock Doctor has 90-plus percent of the market share in the mouth-guard business for sports like football and hockey.
Company officials believe their market dominance in those arenas will help them successfully cross over to the powersports market.
“What we believe is kids do cross over, whether they’re participating or they’re just part of the culture on the Internet or with fashion or whatever,” said Shock Doctor CEO Steve Washburn. “There are so many kids who play hockey and ride motocross, who play soccer and snowboard. They cross over between these traditional and alternative sports. We think that’s the athlete of the future.”
The company, which manufactures its products in Minnesota and overseas, has a product lineup that goes beyond its mouth guard. In fact, its helmet bag and accompanying blower system, which company officials say dries out a helmet and removes potentially harmful bacteria, has the highest penetration of the company’s currently available products in the motorsports industry.
“We’re currently branching out to much more to what we call 21st Century sports — powersports, motorsports, aggressive snow sports,” said Michael Herbert, the company’s chief of sales and marketing officer.
How Shock Doctor will work with dealerships, either directly or through a distributor, is something that is currently being discussed. Company officials said several distributors at the Dealer Expo approached them. Currently, Shock Doctor works directly with retailers in their other markets, some of which do not possess the type of large distributors found in the powersports industry. The company currently has 40 outside sales reps and ships about 900 cartons of product a day, Herbert said.
Because of the interest shown in their line up, company officials say they’re moving up their entry into the powersports market. Originally scheduled for 2008, Shock Doctor will move up shipping to this spring.
Although Washburn said the company is “looking for what the solution is on the sales side,” expanding production is not expected to be a problem for the company, which started in 1990.
The interest from the powersports market could be due to what Herbert sees as “a thirst for speed and higher performance.”
Company officials believe their mouth guard can provide both because of its jaw and neck support system. Besides offering obvious safety benefits, the mouth guard stabilizes the jaw and supports the neck and shoulder muscles, creating a bracing affect.
“The more you can stabilize the head, the more you keep it upright and still, the faster you can process information clearly,” Washburn said.
“The more your head moves around, the more difficult it is for you to process information. Just like if you’re trying to watch TV on your side, the information that’s coming to your brain is slower in processing.”
Washburn drew the parallel to powersports, noting that the bouncing in motocross can create difficulties in focus and as a result, an impact on performance.
While the science isn’t new — Washburn says power lifters have been taking advantage of the knowledge for quite some time — the information might be to powersports riders.
Company officials plan to bring their product to plenty of tracks during the next year and ask racers essentially simple questions, like were you able to focus better with the mouth guard? And as a result, did you have a better race?
And consumers will know the answers to those questions won’t be merely subjective since a stopwatch will be one of the factors in weighing the effectiveness of the company’s product.
“That’s why I think we’ve had a pretty quick and positive entry into powersports,” Washburn said.
How deep that entry is will depend largely on how many youths bring their ties to Shock Doctor from traditional sports over to the powersports side.
“The way they interact with their friends and all of these different sports and the various cultures is really interesting to us and something that we’re paying attention to,” Washburn said, “and that’s why we’re crossing between traditional and alternative sports.”

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