We were pleased to speak recently to Brad Williams, owner of World Cup Supply, Inc. World Cup Supply is a leading supplier of products to the ski racing, resort and event industries. World Cup Supply is located at 226 Industrial Drive in Bradford, Vermont. You can reach them via phone at (802) 449-3103, by email at info@worldcupsupply.com or online at worldcupsupply.com or on Facebook.

 

What does World Cup Supply sell and what makes it a special and unique company?
World Cup Supply (WCS) sells infrastructure equipment to ski resorts, ski racing teams, event organizers in the US, Canada and other countries around the world. Essentially, we can provide everything you see at a ski resort that isn’t mechanized; fencing, padding, rope, signs, and much more. For the race world we offer everything required for teams and clubs to train and race. From gates to b-net to athlete bibs, we are pretty much a one stop shop for race related equipment. On the event side, we really focus on athlete identification (running numbers, etc.) and crowd control fencing. Oddly enough a number of our products even cross over to the construction industry.

 

What is unique about WCS is that there are very few companies that specifically address the needs of the resort and race market as we do. We are also a company whose image belies its size. Many are surprised to hear there are 8 of us working at WCS given our presence and reputation in the industry. To some extent we are a hybrid distributor. We have been a partner with an Italian Company, SPM for over 25 years and they provide us with a significant amount of our product offering related to the resort and ski racing market. We are SPM’s largest customer in this product category, outselling our fellow distributors all over the globe. We’re pretty proud of that.

 

We are also the only company in the US that offers certain types of safety related products for skiing, ski racing and other action sports The best example of that is A-net which is the fixed netting hung form towers on the side of a trail that is used for speed events like downhill or super-G. We done 6 A-net installations over the past 10 years, all over the country. WCS also provides event services which means we will go to an event with product that we install and manage during the event. Air pads using in alpine ski racing and bike racing are good examples of that.
I think our workplace culture also makes us special, if not unique. We have a family feel to our office and while there are job titles per se, everyone gets involved in pretty much everything at one point or another.

 

When did World Cup Supply start and how did you get involved?
Penny Sirjane and Donna Richardson purchased the SPM distributorship in 1991 and moved the business to Donna’s house in Thetford VT. Shipments of gates would arrive from Italy and the two sisters would trudge them up to the barn where they were stored. Often times they had to pull outgoing shipments down the driveway in a sled because the UPS truck could not make it up the hill. The business moved to space in front of Britton Lumber and remained there for 17 years or so. We moved to our new location in the Pearson Industrial Park three years ago where we now occupy approximately 7500 square feet of combined office and warehouse space.  For many years the business was focused 100% on ski racing, but over time the product offering expanded to include resort and event supplies with the resulting expansion of our vendor base as well.

 

I became involved in WCS in 2006 when I was looking for the next ‘adventure’ in my life. I had a varied past with stints in the financial services industry and the retail catalog world. At that time the sisters were looking for a partner and someone who could help grow the business . Since that time we have more than doubled our annual sales which is impressive given the niche market we sell to and the small number players that we compete against. The business was extremely attractive to me personally given my passion for skiing and interest in the industry in general. Both Donna and Penny have since left WCS and I became the sole owner in 2016.

 

What has been the main driver of the growth you referred to?
We were fortunate to be involved with the development and introduction of the only real innovation in race gate technology in the past 30+ years. The BrushGrip base was invented by MBW Technologies in 2008, and as a partner in that business I was in a position to bring the product to WCS. The new base replaced the traditional screw base and made life for coaches significantly easier than it was before. We were able to capture market share from our competition because of the base and our patent protection proved instrumental in preventing knock-offs from coming to market. It is safe to say that we currently sell to over 90% of the ski racing clubs, academies, college teams, etc. in the US and certain provinces in Canada and 100% of our gate sales are with the BrushGrip base. As a point of reference, there were over 100,000 BrushGrip bases sold worldwide in the 2016/17 season. We have also seen an appreciable increase in sales through the design and installation of A-net systems at alpine race venues in the US. These jobs are substantial and involve months of planning and several weeks to install. The end result is alpine speed venues that meet the requirements for the highest levels of competition and are safe for all athletes who train and race on them.

 

Our commitment to service and our helping our customers has also been a contributing factor to our growth. We are told repeatedly by customers who have ‘defected’ to us that the primary reason they made the switch to WCS is not only the quality of our products, but the level of service and expertise they get from all of our staff. As you can imaging the ski racing world and ski industry in general is a small ‘club’ where reputation and integrity are very important. We work to be very strong on those two areas.

 

Has the move to Bradford been a positive one for the business?
Without question the move to our new location has been one of the best things to happen to WCS since the BrushGrip base. We now have a facility that meets our needs, and will do so for the foreseeable future. It was super to be able to take a shell of a building and make it into what we wanted. The remodel and improvements were a significant investment for the business, but well worth it. The town of Bradford is wonderful to have around the corner as well. Pretty much everything and anything we could want or need is nearby and all of our dealing with other local businesses have been wonderful. The location is great too as our staff commutes from St Johnsbury to the north, Hartford to the south and Plymouth, NH to the east.