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Goalie Gear Q-A with Chris Joswiak of Brian’s Custom Sports
- Updated: March 21, 2012
Hockey World Blog had the opportunity to interview Chris Joswiak of Brian’s Custom Sports. Brian’s is an equipment company founded in 1984 and based out of Kingsville, Ontario. Their specialty is custom goalie equipment. Chris is the professional and college equipment rep, and handles product development and marketing. Check out the interview below as we talk about his career, equipment, and the latest trends in hockey.
HWB: Tell us a little bit about your hockey background. How did you get to where you are today?
CJ: I’ve played hockey my entire life. I had the opportunity to play goalie at the ACHA level where I won national championships at Oakland University and Davenport University. I graduated from Davenport in 2008 and I started at Brian’s on an internship where I was involved with goalie school sponsorships. I got recommended by my goalie coach at Davenport.
HWB: Tell us about Brian’s as an equipment company.
CJ: We are a small company with 30 employees where everyone wears multiple hats. The biggest thing that helps us is we are a goalie-only company. Being a company that specializes in goalie equipment, we can offer a lot more with customization without the marketing and income dollars spent compared to companies like Reebok and Bauer. Our bread and butter is customization. College goalies love and request our equipment because of the customization and graphics we can do.
HWB: What has Brian’s done to expand their brand in recent years?
CJ: In the past two years we have included the H-Series. The H-Series is at a lower price point compared to our other equipment. We have done some things with our NHL goalies with endorsements and marketing to help get our name out there. We have also included an apparel line on our site. It’s small but we have a dedicated following as they take pride in wearing our name. We also sponsor goalie schools where we use that to get our name to other goalies.
HWB: Your current top-line is the Sub Zero. The goalie pads are unique because they don’t have conventional straps with the Smart Strap system with a series of Velcro and elastic straps. Tell us more about how that came to fruition.
CJ: It was in development dating back to last May. We went through five redesigns where we tried different combinations of Velcro and elastic straps. The feedback we have received has been wonderful. It takes out the difficulty of replacing an entire leg strap should it or the buckle break. The first NHL goalie we got to try it on was Chris Mason and he loved it.
Craftsmanship and pride are major points for us. It was important to develop a strapless pad and to do it right. We have an engineered foam pad (E-Foam) that is super light and one-of-a-kind. We’re not worried another company will take our technology and incorporate it in their line because you have to get it light and strong enough without it breaking down. It won’t break down and shrink over time like stuffed pads will. That is key for college goalies because they get fewer sets of new equipment per season compared to NHL goalies.
HWB: How many sets of equipment does professional goalies get compared to college per season?
CJ: College goalies get one set to last them the entire season. American League and other minor goalies might get two, sometimes three sets. NHL goalies get three or more, depending on their personal preference. Jaroslav Halak goes through up to six sets of goalie pads per season. He also goes through a different glove a month. He likes his glove stiff, once he’s able to fully close it he’s ready for a new one.
In addition to the pads, glove and blocker, the Sub-Zero line includes a chest protector. Tell us more about that.
CJ: We went to our retailers and wanted feedback in regards to what people are buying and what they wanted. We took feedback from our products and everyone else’s and designed something new. We wanted something that was lighter and allowed the goalie to more more freely.
HWB: Brian’s has four models of gear: Sub-Zero, Zero G, Pro Stock and H- Series. We already talked about the Sub-Zero, what are the differences between the other models in respect to goalie pads?
CJ: The Zero G is designed for the hybrid goalie while the Sub-Zero is designed for the butterfly style goalie. The Pro Stock is designed for someone who is either a hybrid or butterfly goalie. The Pro Stock is our designer series with a more traditional look and feel. We can modify it to similar specifications to our professional goalies. The H- Series is our only line that is imported and that is our lowest model in terms of price point.
HWB: What are some of the latest trends with goalie equipment?
CJ: One popular thing we are seeing is all-white or mostly white equipment. It’s supposed to help blend the goalie’s pads with the boards, net, etc. We have also seen the trend of knee roll or flat front on the pads. That’s been a trend that goes back and forth. We are also seeing more team logo customization. (Chris) Mason wanted to switch pads and do something different. He likes to draw and he drew the Jets logo for us and we was able to out it on his equipment. The length of time varies for that, typically 6-8 weeks.
Check back soon for a review of the Sub-Zero pads, glove and blocker. In the meantime, check out the video courtesy of Pure Hockey where Chris talks about the Sub Zero line with Pure Hockey Goalie Specialist Bill Notartomaso.