American Fork, Utah
Industry: Consumer & Lifestyle
Update: Lizard Skins strengthens its grip through new acquisition.
Utah-based Lizard Skins has acquired Oury Grips, an established grip company serving the biking industry formerly located in Arkansas.
"Oury has been around for fifty years, and people love the feel of their grips," says Brian Fruit, owner. "They were involved in the biking, motorcycle, ATV and watercraft industry. We primarily sold our injection-molded grips in the cycling industry, but we wanted to cross over into the power sports industry. The owner was ready to retire. We placed a bid, and they agreed to sell to us."
Combining the two businesses has not been seamless. "It was a jump, to be honest," Fruit says. "It was a bit of work." To start the ball rolling, Fruit essentially loaded up Oury into a big moving truck and trailer and physically brought the company to Utah. "But Oury will keep a separate name, a separate website, a separate identity to the public. But on the business side, everything will be inside Lizard Skins," says Fruit.
Fruit understands that each company, Oury and Lizard Skins, has its own established feel and flavor and maintaining that is crucial to maintaining loyal customers who have stuck with Oury for 50 years and Lizard Skins for 25. "Keeping two separate looks and two separate feels will be hard, but we feel it is important," Fruit says. "We don't want to alienate Oury users. We don't want to rebrand this established product as a Lizard Skins product. We want to keep it separate in front of the customer but merge the business side of the companies on the backend. We want to keep the flavor of what the company has been for 50 years."
On the manufacturing side, Oury grips will continue to be made in America. "We will not do that in-house," Fruit says. "It will continue to be done by the same injection molding company. The only difference will be that the product will be shipped to Lizard Skins."
"From a production standpoint, we brought the product and the packaging to Utah, converting their part numbers, SKUs, and bar codes into our system. It felt like starting over. But the end customers, the distributors, are happy because Oury and Lizard Skins are on the same system. We now sell to them on a larger scale. They get both products by purchasing from a single supplier. They seem to be excited about that," Fruit says.
Challenges: International Trade Laws. "Pricing in Europe is a challenge," says Fruit. "They have very unique laws controlling online sales, and those laws have created a haven for price discounters in Europe. It's led to some heartburn."
Opportunities: With Oury, Fruit looks forward to building up production. "Customers can expect to see new products and new packaging," Fruit says. And Lizard Skins is booming in a new field: hockey. "We modified our baseball tape for hockey, and it has gone huge. We are actually further along in the first year of hockey than we were in the first two years in baseball. It is going to be a positive thing, especially with multiple NHL teams buying and using our product. We hope that will be the step needed in getting a license to become the official stick tape of the NHL."
Need: Talent. Fruit acknowledges that Utah has a tight job market, making growth challenging at a human resource level. "Financially, we are well-funded and very fiscally responsible. To fuel our growth, we need to add crucial members to our company as needed," he says.