Below you can read interview with Conti Simone – posted too late I must say. While most of these questions were formed in November 2012, man was pretty busy with work and send me answers in January. I can’t blame him simply because …it was me, who missed his e-mail in flood of other mails. So this should be posted whole month earlier, really. So some questions are a bit “outdated” like the one about aggressive wheels or event presence, but as a whole, it is still relevant piece of information. Sink in, and read more about one of most dynamical brands in today’s rollerblading world!
1) Your company already had experience with skating products, but it was all about quad skates for some time. And now you decided to enter still young powerblading market (and also freestyle slalom and inline hockey wheels market). Most companies wouldn’t risk investing in something that is still precarious. But you did – could you tell us why?
We have been the leading producer in the field of roller-skating for many years, we have considerable experience in the production of high quality roller-skates which have helped our athletes improve their performances and win many competitions in the last few years.
These skills allow us to work not only for the quad but also for the inline. The quad is a much more complex product as it has a number of components which are not required for the inline. We study the shoe carefully with meticulous precision. Specialized engineers design the frame by measuring weights and forces, testing the products with specific machines. We have high-level Italian suppliers which are highly capable in each sector.
What brings us to the IN-line? our ambition and desire to explore each sector, the desire to make a name of ourselves as leader of precision and quality. We do not aim at a low market, we do not work on quantity, instead we rely on small amounts at a high level, competitive but functional. The guarantee behind our name is the “made-in Italy”, which means suppliers and employees in close contact with our company, we follow each stage of production, we control the development of the frame-mold like the amount of compound for our wheels.
Every step of production is always handled and under supervision of a competent authority.
Roller-skating is our passion and since it is not only artistic … today we have decided to go a step further.
2) As a newcomers to market, you had to build your image from the scratch, as few months ago almost nobody in freeskating or aggressive skating communities knew Roll Line brand. Tell us, what is hardest part of building company image, and developing new products without previous experience in fields they are made for?
This is a complex subject, of course, it is not easy, and it was not easy either, Roll-line is fortunate to have young men at their side who love to skate, guys who have “ideas,” young people who love what they do and believe in the potential of this market, and so the “application” or “REQUEST” was born .. We have been asked to sponsor an event, having entered the market of Hockey in line with success (our Aster and Zenith have been doing amazingly now for 2 years) suggesting the Zenith (Hockey on wheels) on to the Freestyle and SpeedSlalom market considering the potential of wheels even on the road. This led us to review the product in some aspects, for example the smoothness of the wheel and it’s hardness, then the graphics and in the end the name.
From here there have been a series of transformations. Our internal communication department quickly planned and determined our second face. “Skate in line” Skil. FSK has always lead a specific market section, maybe we want to define another … less commercial, more freedom and spectacular. Having created the “Extrema” wheel, in such a way to be identified with “extreme exercises”, we have continued to reflect on what was extreme and from there comes our curiosity for Powerblading. We have sponsored an important event in Italy to introduce the brand to the Aggressive riders, perhaps the closest to the discipline and with some of their help, being of course professionals in Italy, the Thunder Demon and the Frame Cage were created.
We did not do anything without the support and supervision of these people, because we trust the athletes and their advice.
Maybe this is our very own strength … “trust”
However I would not say that we started from scratch … maybe better from square 01.
3) Roll Line SKIL already have image of a brand that listen to what skaters are saying, and is trying to fine-tune products as much as possible before release. That’s something almost unheard of in rollerblading world – most companies are developing and testing their products behind closed doors, making prototypes available only to few people from their teams. Your approach is more akin to “public beta” test – many skaters received wheels, frames and bearings, giving feedback about them. Did it paid off, and input from “random” skaters really helped you developing your products further?
As I said above, we chose “trust”, he who skates knows what he wants and how he wants it, I think it costs much less for a company to invest with a direct test rather than do something that will end up as a flop, we want to create something that works. We obviously have already noticed some risks, such as bad publicity by some competitors, slander by others, but in the end those who received the product usually only gave us helpful and practical advice.
In any new business recognizing a quantity of goods to be invested, is a normal procedure. Many are waiting, and this is already an achievement!
We have realized for example that some brands have already copied the core of the wheels … and the finishing of the Thunder Demon .. in short, we still don’t count much yet and we have already done something!
4) As powerblading grows, more and more companies try to get a slice of this pie. Recently a new company called Bake frames emerged, and they released flat 72mm frames with groove. Tom Hyser said that Blank will definitely make frames more intended for rolling at some point. It wouldn’t be surprising if Seba would decide to make their own ones. And remember there are also three existing Kizer frames. Powerblading frame market suddenly can become crowded. What advantages your frames have over competition, and why customers should choose them?
We will try to follow trends and make our frames exclusive. I repeat that quality makes all the difference! Kizer is the leader but will have to evolve indeed, we noticed that as soon as we came out this summer with the presentation of the frame (prototype) with the addition of the extractable h-block, soon later Kizer produced the level2 .. what does this mean? that if fair competition is good …! The frame Level2 is great, but in our opinion not good enough, we want to improve the quality of the aluminum frame (Alu), in terms of resistance / weight / speed.
5) I remember at first you were saying that naked aluminium frames will be just fine, as you used premium quality alloy to make them. But some time ago you announced that sidewalls are under development. Next thing we know, frame was completely redesigned, given new name “Cage”, sharp looks, new axles, and sidewalls as a standard. What has changed your mind?
Of course we have listened to the many comments, among the most important clearly was regarding the poor sliding of the walls, thus the addition of applications in plastic. We noticed they were ill-resistant, we found a plastic specially made for smoothness and we redesigned the attachment, the sidewall will be inserted and then screwed to guarantee it’s fixing. Since the design was too similar to others, we had to customize it.
Designed like this it has less aluminum and is more aerodynamic, we wanted to simulate a “cage” .. the caged Thunder Demon … and what better than lightning?
This does not mean that the previous one will be removed from the market .. maybe readjusted .. but we will see about that!
We have online on our website http://www.roll-line.it but we are redesigning it at the moment .. if someone wants to buy online they already can.
We are collecting contacts with leading retailers in Italy and abroad, we hope to work with the most important sites.
7) Will Roll Line eventually expand more in to inline skating market, making wheels and frames dedicated to aggressive, or other skating types?
We are working on aggressive wheels, for now we will leave it here. I think with a couple of years of analysis and improvement of the products, then we will see, better not say anything else for now.
8) On your website, under Street Line category, we see “Champions” subcategory. That shows you have plan to build a team of skaters. Will these guys be Italian skaters only, or will there be international team with people from various countries rollerblading for Roll Line SKIL?
We are already working with young people who are part of our team, I hope to be able to have kids on my side who are not only Italians. For now, names like Nicola Fiorenza firstly, Jason Adriani, Maxx Langaev, Jeremiah Dougherty and his brother Matt have done a great job and followed us in the project.
9) Are there any plans to have official brand representatives competing in tournaments like WSX or Urban Skate Race in Barcelona?
I would say that there are excellent opportunities to be present, I’ve talked about some things with the project managers. Soon I shall tell you more.
Too many things cannot be said, however perhaps we will be at WinterClash and we will probably organize a WSSA and WRS this summer. I say no more.
11) Thanks for the interview, not it’s time to make shout-outs, and maybe to send wishes to someone? Or a personal message to rollerbladers? Please, write what you want to :)
Meanwhile, I thank all those skaters who have tested and therefore worn our products. likewise I thank twice as much those who already bought our wheels and are our customers for some time.
I hope that our adventure becomes more and more exciting, I’d like to know one by one all our supporters .. because at the end a handshake and a pat on the back are worth more than a thousand words … but since it’s not possible… I wish you all virtually good luck guys, see you on the road!