I am a Nashville native and grew up 30 minutes from Swiftwick’s current headquarters. Having grown up in the community, our commitment to having our socks made locally is especially meaningful.
THE SMITH STORY —
I began my career as an engineer, and have been fortunate to spend 25 years in a wide variety of manufacturing and operations roles in a variety of industries. Prior to Swiftwick, I spent 10 years on the hard goods side of the sporting goods industry. Swiftwick is my first adventure in apparel and it has been incredibly rewarding. We work with upstream partners in our supply chain that are the survivors of a once massive US textile industry. Today they thrive because of a focus on quality and new technology. As a small brand, access to that experience and technical capability is exciting.
We believe in designing Swiftwick socks as technical equipment. We want to make products that are aesthetically pleasing, but we always put function first. When viewed through that lens, designing socks is like designing technical hard goods. We consider things, such as: What does the consumer need to perform at their best? How can our product contribute to that? What are the best material choices for the application? How do we refine the construction to optimize the player’s experience? If we were simply picking colors and patterns for the next season, it wouldn’t be the right role for me. Designing products that help consumers perform at their best is more rewarding — aka more fun.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
As the president of the company, my role is to ensure our team has the right tools and resources to make the most of their talent and energy. We are a small business, so every day is something new and exciting.
What was the genesis for Swiftwick’s creation as a company?
Our origins are the classic tale of someone looking to solve a problem they were experiencing themselves with the available products on the market. We were founded by a mountain bike racer seeking a better product for himself and his racing team. He had a friend in the hosiery business that helped him create the original Swiftwick socks.
What distinguishes the product offerings Swiftwick provides versus that of your competitors?
Every pair of Swiftwick socks incorporates our two core technologies: Fiber First Moisture Wicking and Contoured Compression Fit. Fiber First Moisture Wicking means we build each sock from the ground up – selecting the best fibers for each application. We work diligently with our supply chain partners and utilize a more complex fiber selection in each product than our competitors. Our Contoured Compression Fit provides the proper support to reduce fatigue and eliminates excess material to reduce bunching and eliminate blisters.
How and why did Swiftwick opt to get involved in providing products for golfers?
Our goal is to help athletes perform better. Golf is a perfect application for our products. A solid foundation is so important to a proper swing and Swiftwick socks help complete that connection. Through the years, we have had quite a few tour pros wear our socks, although their shoe sponsors don’t like for us to name them.
In terms of sales – what’s the approximate percentage of the company’s efforts via brick and mortar outlets, online and green grass shops?
We are fortunate to have a broad mix of specialty retailers, e-retailers and green grass, as well as introducing consumers to our products via direct channels. That mix is ever-evolving and our objectives are to be a great partner to our retailers and meet consumers wherever they are shopping.
Many companies tout the importance of customer service – define the term from the Swiftwick perspective.
The essence of our customer service philosophy lies in our Best Sock You Will Ever Wear Guarantee – which simply states if you ever experience an issue with a pair of our socks to reach out and we will take care of you. It is purposefully open-ended because we want to create a personal experience that addresses each customer’s specific needs.
What specific steps does the company take to ensure customer satisfaction with the product line?
As mentioned earlier, our brand was founded by someone looking to create a better product for themselves. We retain that ethos today and strive, first and foremost, to be consumers, and to design and craft products that we want to use. Secondly, we chose materials that best deliver the performance attributes we want. Finally, we rigorously test all of our products with our extensive athlete and ambassador network.
You mention you consider socks as being part of technical equipment. Explain what that means.
We strongly believe in socks as technical equipment. In golf you have four primary points of contact that translate your body’s energy into a specific movement designed to propel the ball where you want it to go. The precision of that movement relies on a solid foundation. Our Contoured Compression Fit helps establish that foundation. It always strikes us when someone spends thousands of dollars on equipment, including hundreds of dollars on footwear, and relies on cheap socks bring it all together.
Biggest short and long term challenges facing Swiftwick and what plans are being implemented with that in mind?
The ongoing shift in consumer buying behaviors remains a challenge for all consumer product brands. We continue to invest in ways to be in front of customers wherever they spend time exploring new brands and products. Breaking through the noise in digital advertising will require an ever-increasing investment.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
My hero has always been my father. When I was probably 12, he told me “No matter what you are doing, always work hard to be the best at it.” Without context, it is nothing overly profound but it has guided me throughout my career.
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