The action sports industry has taken a turn for the best when it comes to sales, influence, and overall presence in the market place. As little as 25 years ago, it might have been hard to see action sports as a profitable industry, but in the last 15 years, there are action sports companies that have skyrocketed in value and influence. Companies that were started out of the back of station wagons are now being publicly traded on the stock market. These companies are real game changers, and a viable part of our market place.
Many companies began life in the market place as the passion project of action sports athletes. Several of the founders of these companies started out as surfers, snowboarders, or those just looking to have a great time. The Action Sports industry has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry that gives many retiring athletes the opportunity to start a great career after their run as a pro ends.
Though they don’t all deal directly with action sports, these companies really show us what is capable within the action sports community, which is filled with brand-loyal consumers willing to spend money on quality merchandise. Along with the action sports community, there are many outside of the action sports world who enjoy these great products as well. They products can be used by anyone, not just action sports athletes. That is what is so great about the influx of action sports companies that are flooding the market place: it truly gives the action sports world a business world presence. Here are four of the biggest companies with strong ties to the action sport community.
Skullcandy – Revenue: $200 Million (2012)
A custom headphone and apparel company that started out of Park City, Utah, Skullcandy was founded in 2003 by Rick Alden, and was started with the capital he gained when he took out a second mortgage on his home. He latched onto the action sports community and quickly started sponsoring athletes, who took his product right to his desired market and allowed him to form a solid customer base. The first three to five years that you are running a business are very important, and he used the action sports community to keep him viable through those hard start-up years. Eventually, Skullcandy was able to parley that popularity into a broader consumer appeal, but the influence and history of their roots in the action sports community remains strong behind all their products.
Their sponsored athletes include some of the worlds best skateboarders, like Sean Malto and Eric Koston. They also consistently sponsor big snowboard, ski, BMX, and other action sports events. Skullcandy not only offers stylish, quality options for headphones and ear buds, but they also have great portable speakers, which can really get a skate session going. Going for the edgier crowd, Skullcandy has found a great amount of success among skaters, bikers, and surfers.
Volcom – Revenue: $332 Million (2012)
A clothing company that started out strictly as a skateboarding and snowboarding clothing label, Volcom has turned into one of the most recognized brands of clothing for those between the ages of 18-24. The company was started by two friends who decided one winter that they wanted to enjoy the thrill of riding fresh powder everyday on the mountain. That led to a desire to start a clothing company which captured those emotions they experienced during that winter’s adventures on the slopes.
In 2005, 14 years after the founding of the company, Volcom went public . The initial public offering of the company was issued at $19 a share with 4.6 million shares, putting the company’s value at $89 million dollars in the year 2005. In 2008 Volcom acquired goggle and sunglasses company Electric for $2.5 million, their first acquisition. In 2011, French company Kering offered to buy Volcom for $24.50/ share, putting Volcom’s worth at $608 million dollars. Volcom is quite possibly one of the most successful action sports clothing companies of all time. It continues to grow, and is a trendsetting brand in snowboarding and skateboarding gear and apparel.
GoPro – Revenue: $521 Million (2012)
GoPro started with the goal of creating a camera that can withstand all of the abuse that action sports photographers put their cameras through, but it has become so much more. GoPro was first thought up by founder and CEO Nick Woodman when he was on a surfing trip. He hoped to get great photos, but the photographers just couldn’t get close enough to the action. Woodman then acquired the money necessary to start his company by selling beads and shells out of his VW van.
The company originally started out selling the camera to the surfing crowd, but then branched out into skiing, biking, skating, scooter riding, auto racing, skydiving, and more. GoPro has gone now from just offering heavy duty action sports cameras, to having cameras that even professional filmmakers and photographers use on a daily basis. The HD function of the new Hero 3 line of cameras is comparable to larger cameras that are three or four times the price, making this camera something of a marvel to behold. GoPro is easily the number one camera company in the action sports industry today.
Red Bull – Revenue: $5.75 Billion (2012)
One of the biggest beverage companies in the world today, Red Bull has a larger advertising budget than any other drink company on the market, and regularly allocates huge sums of that money to paying professional athletes in the action sports world some enormous endorsements. The Red Bull logo has quickly become associated with the most extreme and cutting edge action sports events, athletes, and photography. Red Bull now even owns and operates an action sports magazine. In 2012, Red Bull sold over 2.5 billion cans, making it easily the most popular energy drink on the market.
Red Bull not only sponsors some of the worlds best extreme athletes, but also owns teams that compete in the action sports industry. Red Bull has ownership of cars in Nascar, Auto Teams in Formula 1, and a Major League Soccer team, among other ventures. They also sponsor a wide array of of cars in different auto racing circuits. Red Bulls events are some of the most important for athletes, and attended by a huge number of spectators. Their events, such as the Red Bull Rampage, the Red Bull Cliff Jumping Series, and Red Bull Stratos, are some of the most looked forward to events over the whole year for action sports community.
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