January 6, 2020
2019 was the start of the Rowers Choice expansion and significant growth in our sport. Heavy investments were made in manufacturing processes, sales team infrastructure and logistical operations. This letter will outline the changes made throughout Finish Line Rowing, Resolute Racing, Sykes USA and Rowers Choice; as well as, give insight into future goals and investments.
On June 13th, Rowing Partners completed the acquisition of Resolute Racing Shells and merged the brand under the holding company, Rowers Choice. The acquisition included the consolidation of Finish Line Rowing out of Baltimore, MD and Sykes USA. The combined operation is the first of its kind in the United States. After a 4-month period of transition, the national sales team was established and the offerings included service (repairs, refurbishments), used boat sales and new boat sales. It also included a transportation logistics extension able to cover the continental United States.
We built Rowers Choice to bring transparency to the rowing population and support the growth of the sport by lowering the cost of entry. By implementing a roll-up strategy in our sport, we are able to lower cost of construction, consolidate roles and streamline production/processes.
Our biggest lesson learned is the value of a strong company culture and the value great people bring to a team. The transition from three individual companies to one has been the most difficult experience but the best learning opportunity. On paper the value of merging three companies was obvious, but we were unaware of the company culture changes that were necessary to experience those rewards. Blending our values and styles will continue to be a focus in 2020 – from the sales team all the way to the employees building/repairing the boats.
Our competitors have been increasing prices year after year since 2010. Cost of owning a boat continues to rise as well. The focus on our consolidation was to bring an end to the rising costs of boats and streamlining internal processes to allow that to happen. To date we have been able to lower cost of materials, increased efficiency at Resolute and improved on the flow through at Finish Line.
These efficiencies have allowed us to lower our price for a new Resolute 8+ to $39,900 – a feat no other manufacturer has been interested in achieving. The biggest question our customers asked was “will our quality of craftsmanship go down with all these changes”. I can say we have not compromised one bit in that category. It is hard for people to comprehend when a business is NOT greedy and transfer the savings back into the customers pockets.
We underestimated the what it would take when we merged the brands. Change takes longer to adopt than we thought. The new 2020 goal has been set and the sales staff will have their work cut out for them. We will be 100% focused on customer service and transparency. Led by CJ Bown, we will be working on growth in all three brands Resolute, Sykes and Finish Line, through new and used boat sales and refurbishments. After significant market research from February – November, we are confident Rowers Choice will achieve our numbers.
Our sales team will have significant marketing support through social media channels, content marketing, print ads, digital displays, brand ambassadors and regatta attendance. We have found value in utilizing these channels to gain national recognition and plan to capitalize on low cost marketing to expand our reach. We will be telling the story of Rowers Choice and the amazing team behind the brand.
2019 was no picnic. In fact, it was more challenging than ever before. But I have an incredibly positive outlook on 2020 and what we are capable of achieving. However, the hard work did not stop at the end of 2019. At the end of the day we are still a small company and it requires even this CEO continues to wet sand, buff, blend, sand and transport rowing shells around the country on a daily basis.
Rowers Choice may be the new kid on the block, we will work to earn your business with our quality and skills. The sales staff has their work cut out for them, the boat builders at Resolute have a high bar to reach and the employees at Finish Line have to keep up with the heavy demand. Our foot is on the gas and it won’t let up.
Alex Del Sordo
President, Rowers Choice
Finish Line Rowing