My Story:

Everyone Has A Story, And This Is Mine. Volume 19: Justin Hoffman

Everyone Has A Story, And This Is Mine. Volume 19: Justin Hoffman

I know I am starting to sound like a broken record, but Justin was one of the first people I thought of when the idea to share people’s stories first started.  Justin is the ultimate guy behind the guy in our industry.  He mention’s in his first paragraph that if you have played in the last 2 decades he has been part of your hockey life, even if you have no idea who he is.  Justin very modestly goes on to explain some of the products and innovations he was behind, but it would be impossible for him to list all of them.  My first visit to Mission HQ when it was located in Santa Ana CA was overwhelming.  They were the king of inline product at the time and had just broken into the ice world.  As I was taken on the tour everyone had an office and there were a few cubicles… then in the middle of the entire place was 20 or so cubicles turned into one large closed off area.  It was filled with all kinds of products and materials and I was introduced to “The Mad Scientist” Justin Hoffman.  His “office” was an absolute playground for anyone that loved gear, I didn’t want to leave. I got to know Justin a little better(not an easy thing to do btw) after a few visits to Mission and he eventually asked me to fill in on his beer league team in Anaheim. I quickly got to see the other side of Justin, as he enjoyed testing the durability of opposing players sticks, we had a few things in common and got along well.  I am so happy Justin agreed to tell at least a truncated version of his story.  I honestly don’t know how to try and quantify this but here I go: If you have ever played inline hockey since 1999, there is a 99.9% chance you have worn a piece of equipment Justin has designed… Think about that for minute. That’s nuts.

Justin continues to design hockey products these days over at Labeda. Although we may not agree about who makes the best wheels in the game, I have the utmost respect for Justin and all of the products he has created over the years. The following is the PG/Short Version of the hockey story of Justin Hoffman, in his own words. Enjoy.

-TS

 

Most people have no clue who I am, and I am perfectly okay with that. I am not a professional hockey player, I don’t coach hockey, nor am I the face of any brand. The truth is if you have played roller hockey in the past 20 years, I have most likely been part of your hockey life. My name is Justin Hoffman, and this is my story.

I was born in Huntington Beach, CA and grew up playing baseball and soccer. Hockey didn’t even exist in my world. There weren’t tons of hockey rinks in Orange County, so I had no idea what I was missing. My first introduction to hockey started way before the invention of inline skates on a frozen pond in Minnesota. This is where I was able to play hockey with the cousin whom I always looked up to. I didn’t see John very often, since we lived in California and he lived in Minnesota, but during one Christmas in the early 80s my family traveled to Minnesota to visit my relatives. It was such an amazing experience seeing all that snow, frozen lakes, going on a horse drawn sled, and “playing” pond hockey for the first time. I can’t say I was immediately hooked on the sport (probably because I was in figure skates, had a left handed stick, and had no clue what I was doing), but it introduced me tothe sport I came to love. I still remember my cousin having me put on all of his huge hockey gear in his living room. I remember thinking of how cool all the gear was. Little did I know I would be designing gear for NHL players years later. John was a great person who unfortunately passed away from cancer at a very young age. F**K Cancer is all I have to say.

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Gretzky traded to the Kings – How many hockey players in California were a product of the Great One coming to the Kings? My hockey career started with a pair of Skate Attack skates and a Mylec Air flow stick. During the summer of 1989 I hung up my skateboard, and started playing more and more hockey. My friends and I started playing on driveways, in parks, tennis courts, or anywhere else we could find. As we played more and more we traded in our Mylec sticks for Koho Ultimates. That was the stick to have outside. Rollerblade Lightnings were considered the best skates. (I was on my Skate Attacks – thanks Ice Hawk for telling my mom and I that these skates were just as good, even though they weren’t even close). Our goalie gear consisted of a first baseman’s glove, a catcher’s helmet and chest pad, and a homemade blocker constructed from a boogie board. Over the next couple of years roller hockey grew and our games expanded from 1 v 1 to some games of 10 v 10. Tennis courts were the preferred place to play, and I still remember the first time my friends and I pooled our money together to buy a pair of the plastic Mylec goalie pads. It was a glorious day, as we no longer would take shots to our bare legs. I could finally make kick saves like my goalie hero: #33 Patrick Roy.

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After my freshman year, I quit playing baseball for good, and focused my attention on soccer and hockey. One thing about these sports that I loved was that my size was never an issue. Size was always an issue for me. Let’s just say being 5 feet tall as a freshman and being nicknamed Speck was a bit rough. As my high school years went on, I started to get better and better at both hockey and soccer. During our hockey games we always took turns playing goalie, but something about the gear made me want to play it exclusively. As a goalie, whether in soccer or hockey, I loved the gear and the pressure. You could be the hero. I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence growing up, so deep down inside I liked the accolades of making a great save or getting a shutout.

My college years were fairly uneventful. My parents were awesome and said if I could get through college in four years they would pay for it. I worked my butt off for four years and graduated from CSULB. I played a ton of hockey during college and finally made the transition from Roller to Ice. It took a long time, as I only wanted to play goalie (we all know how expensive goalie gear is). I worked long hours at a coffee shop to pay for Ice gear, and had to borrow leg pads. Similar to Dave Reskey, I studied the Great Skate catalog. It was like a book of dreams to me. I would fantasize about all the gear and how much better of a player I would be if I had the newest Vaughn gear. A black Vaughn Legacy Catch glove was the first dream piece of gear I ever bought. I remember watching games at the old Ice Chalet in Costa Mesa, and seeing a goalie with this glove. It looked huge and was so futuristic compared to my Cooper glove. I loved this glove and still wish I had one.

Katin Years:

During my junior year at CSULB, I was playing hockey with a friend, Greg Russell, who said the company he worked for needed some help in the warehouse. This turned out to be the start of my professional career. I got a job working for Katin USA/Burning Snow in their warehouse. Originally I was hired to pull orders during the summer. I still remember how hot it was pulling winter clothing orders in the middle of summer. Even though it was a lot of work, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to work for a surf/snowboard company. Bill Sharp, Rick Lohr, Mike Synder, and Jim Rubel were amazing to work for. I learned so much from them and will always be grateful for the knowledge and work experience I gained. When I graduated from CSULB, I was promoted from warehouse manager to International Sales Manager. Who knew this promotion would lead to my start in hockey? During a trip to ISPO in Germany, I stayed at the same hotel as the Mission Hockey guys. It was there I was able to hang out with the CEO, CCO, VP of Sales, and Director of Marketing.

 

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During the next two years at Katin, I met a lot of people in the hockey world. I remember going to Bullfrogs’ games and screaming “Nice Pads!” during the national anthem at Rob Laurie. My best friend Scott and I even attended a Rob Laurie goaltending camp (what a waste of money). Scott and I instantly hit it off with Rob and Mark Stitt and have been friends ever since. I couldn’t even tell you how many pairs of Rob’s old pads I bought. I still remember wearing his old Bullfrogs pads in my one professional game at the Pond (Honda Center). I was pumped for 24 goals as I filled in for the Washington Power. Not a good showing, but it was an amazing experience to play in front of 8000+ people. I’m not sure what the best part of the night was. It was either when one of the Bullfrog players skated up to me after a save and told me “we are just trying to hit the post now” or when a kid heckled me about using Rob’s pads. The kid said something to the effect of “nice pads, couldn’t you borrow some of Laurie’s skill.”

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Katin also introduced me to my friend Craig Johnson. Craig would be the man who got me my big break in the hockey world. Craig and I met playing at the Circuit. Mission had just launched and it was this cool up and coming brand. At that time I was an Easton and Burly guy (My other great friend Jason Lauderdale had started a pant and bag company called Burly. He was the first person to do the yellow Smiley Face pants). Craig was a great guy and we created a good friendship. This friendship led to my first attempt at design. I could use some new gear, and Craig could use some new clothes. This barter led to the first product I ever designed (I shouldn’t really say design, but colored). Mission had come out with the Bilt-Rite Works glove and I wanted a set. Yellow was my favorite color at the time and I asked Craig if he could make me a pair of all yellow gloves. He agreed, and the yellow Bilt-Rite Works gloves were born. It became my calling card. People knew me as the guy with the yellow gloves. That may or may not have been a good thing. I had a bit of a temper and broke a few sticks on people’s arms and legs. I didn’t like to be touched. I even shot the puck at my own teammate one time. Sorry Ian.

Mission Days:

In the summer of 1998 Craig asked if I wanted to come interview for a job at Mission. This was a dream. As much as I loved Katin, I wasn’t a surfer. I was a hockey player. I interviewed for a job as Assistant Developer,Softgoods. This job oversaw the development of roller pants, bags, hats, and T-shirts. I had never developed a product, so I was grateful for the opportunity that Craig, Thom Wilder, and Steve Meineke gave me. When I started out I really didn’t have much to do, so I spent my free time learning about product. I learned about sticks from Stick Guy Tim Pearson, skates from Thom Wilder and Freddy Aird, protective gear from Wilson Minnaar, chassis and blade holders from Tan Pham (who btw has magic hands and gives a great shoulder massage), and everything in the design world from Jocelyn Poulin. These guys were my teachers, and provided me with the building blocks of which I have built my entire hockey product creation career on. The best part of getting a job at Mission was it allowed me the opportunity to ask the receptionist at Katin out on a date. I had been sexually harassing her for the past 6 months. I was a total creep. This receptionist ended up becoming my wife. I still can’t believe she married the “little boy” who interviewed her for a job.

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During my first year at Mission, I always wondered why we had Bilt-Rite. It didn’t make sense to me. We had this amazing brand in Mission, yet we were putting Bilt-Rite on the products that were the biggest billboard: gloves and pants. I began to push to use the brand Mission on all pants and gloves. Now I can’t remember how it happened, as I know I was just a skippy, but I was able to convince them to change the pants from Bilt-Rite to Mission. I know Bilt-Rite was Craig’s baby, and he was not happy that happened. I think what allowed this to happen was Craig being stuck in Canada and not being able to be in the meetings we were having in California. In the summer of 1999, NARCh was held at the Cooler in Alpharetta, GA. This was the first event where I ran the Mission booth. Craig told me to bring the new Mission pants for our sponsored teams. I took this as “give pants to every team that claims to be a Mission team.” Oops. I was like the ice cream man, driving around the Mission Box truck, throwing out pants like they were going out of style. I ended up giving away over $10,000 worth of the new Mission pants. Needless to say, I went a tiny bit over budget. I like to think of it as a major launch of a new product, and still believe to this day that it was the reason Mission pants dominated the market for the past 15 years. I pissed off a lot of sponsors that year. I had a trashcan in the Mission booth, where kids could bring any competitors hats, throw them in the trash, and we would give them a Mission hat. Paul Chapey and Jeff Mason (NARCh bosses) were not very happy with me. I guess my time in the surf and snow industry was different from the hockey world. In the surf industry, we didn’t care about our competition and would do anything to promote our brand. I still to this day have a hard time being nice to competitors. Some people in this industry don’t deserve respect. Loyalty seems to be lost.

I began traveling a lot for work and made my first trip over to Taiwan and China. Talk about having your mind blown. I made the 15-hour flight by myself to China, in a middle seat, between two old Asian ladies that didn’t speak English and slept the entire flight. It was hell. I had been to Japan with Katin, but never China. This place was the biggest crap hole I had ever been to. Thankfully I had packed a suitcase full of Zingers and Snicker bars to fill my stomach. There was no way I was going to eat some of the crazy food that was served. Anybody ever see a guy put an entire fish head in his mouth? I have. The factories were a completely different story than the surrounding cities. These places were amazing. You will never forget your first visit to a factory. Huge machines injecting plastic parts, hundreds of sewing machines, and more employees than I could count. It was eye opening to see all of the different products being produced. Everything from baseball helmets, to soccer shin guards,to snowboard bags, these factories could make it. It was commonplace to see Mission being made on one floor, CCM on another, and then Bauer on a different one. Seeing this opened my eyes on why treating factory workers better could help my company. Since my competitors were all getting their product made at the same factories, I knew I needed to treat these people with the utmost respect. I treated them, the same way they treated me. They became more than people who made our product. The factory employees were friends. I worked with some people in my professional career that treated them like second or third class citizens. It was awful to see. The workers took more pride in what they were making, and treated you better than almost anyone I have ever worked with. They would put your needs first. Always. All of the factories that I have ever dealt with have been run by true professionals. I have been in numerous heated discussions about “Made in China” vs.”Made in the USA/Canada”, so I won’t get into that now. All I can say is that I am proud that many of the products I have designed were/are Made in China.

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In 1999, with Craig running the ice side of the business, Mission decided to bring in someone to run the roller side of the business. Deep down inside I was hoping it was going to be me, but it didn’t happen. Instead, the higher ups decided to bring in Joe Cook. Obviously I knew Joe from being the equipment skippy for the Mission Pro Team, as well as watching him play for the Bullfrogs. I was a bit concerned that he was going to come in with some ego, and I was just going to be his skippy. Needless to say, this wasn’t what happened. Joe believed in me so much, that every time someone in R&D quit or was let go, he gave me the opportunity to take over their categories.

In 2000, my wife and I got married at the Gretzky Center in Irvine on 9-9-00. It was a great day, but I still feel bad for making my wife get married on a hockey rink. Joe had become such a great friend, that he was one of my groomsman. I have hundreds of stories about our adventures in China, in the office, and traveling to tournaments. Let’s just say “Yeah, I work out!” We have been through a ton and I consider him one of my best friends. There aren’t many guys who would go through a wall for you. He is one of them.

As the years at Mission went on, many people in the company came and went. At one point we had over 200+ employees. I began working on both ice hockey and roller hockey products. I got more into design, and began designing gloves, protective gear, bags, soft goods, and eventually skates. I was involved in almost every product excluding sticks. Mike Whan became our CEO and Jim Mahoney was our COO. Mike was/is probably the smartest businessman I know (That is why he is now the Commissioner of the LPGA). Jim Mahoney was a no nonsense ex-military man, who I hated at the beginning. I went from working for Joe, to working for Jim. Jim probably thought I was some cocky punk kid, and I thought he didn’t “get it.” Boy was I wrong. Jim eventually became another positive teacher in my professional life. One statement he asked me was “how many more units are we going to sell if we make this change?” This was in reference to me wanting to make a last minute design change on a product. When I realized that we wouldn’t really sell anymore, the delay in making the change was not worth it. I still use this question today when deciding whether to make a last minute change.

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January 15, 2002 was a special day for my wife and I. Our daughter, Alison, was born. This little princess made my job a whole lot harder. I no longer wanted to travel as much as I was. I knew I had to, but it was very difficult. When my daughter was just 2 months old, I had to go to China for two weeks. It was crazy. Her birth also launched a phobia of mine. I used to love to fly. I thought it was the coolest thing, but now I quickly became afraid to fly. I hate it. This made my job even more difficult. I still to this day hate to fly, but have bought a nice insurance policy if something should happen 🙂

In September of 2003, our family expanded with the birth of my son. I knew I needed my career to continue to keep growing. In 2005 my family was presented an opportunity to move to Montreal for a minimum of 6 months (with a long term goal to move there permanently). Mission had purchased Itech, and the company was consolidating. Mission California had reduced its staff down to only a handful of employees. All operations had moved to Montreal and Plattsburgh, NY. I knew if I wanted to have a job long term, I better take this opportunity. So in September of 2005, my family packed up some of our belongings and moved to the West Island of Montreal. My job was to oversee the product coming out of Montreal and the US. Mission had moved all sides of the ice product (sales, design, development, etc.) to Montreal, while all roller was run out of California. I was being sent to Montreal to be the liaison between the two countries. The Itech people in Canada didn’t think the people in California knew what they were doing, and we didn’t think the Itech people knew what they were doing. We were both wrong. At the new Canadian office, I met one of the most talented designers in the industry, Jason Bird. He still works for Bauer and continues to bring amazing product to market. My time in Montreal was not all roses. I constantly fought for what I thought was the right thing to do on the product side, only to be dismissed. It was definitely a struggle for my family. With two little kids under the age 5, we struggled with the climate, the lack of English, and the lack of friends. Only one person invited my family to their house, Craig Johnson (who had moved on from Mission), the entire time we were in Canada. The weekdays were extremely tough for my wife. Weekends were amazing though, and we visited almost every tourist destination. As the Christmas season approached, my wife and I decided it was best or her and the kids to head back to California. We spent Christmas together in California and then I went back to Montreal to finish out the last three months. It was cold, it was lonely, but we did what we had to do. I loved my time in Montreal, but I knew deep down I could never live there permanently.

During my time at Mission I created and/or was part of a team that created a lot of amazing products. Here are some of the product failures and products I was proud of:

Product Bombs:
• Icon Pant – Silkscreen fell off in the wash. We had so many returns.
• VIBE Chassis – Not my creation, but I believed in the product. I still think the Vibe 2 was a great chassis
• Helium skate Plastic DNA Strands – Brand new skate would break if pulled hard enough
• Helium skate stiffness – The skates were shipped missing a key glue ingredient. We had to stick needles in the skates when they arrived in the US to stiffen them up
• Helium 10000 skate – After the failure of the skate the year before, I made the skates so stiff they killed people’s feet
• 714 Glove – Tried to create a glove with reversible asymmetrical cuffs. Concept was cool, but soon realized people just wanted gloves that were comfortable

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Products I was proud of:
• S500 Ice Skate
• Fuel Line of protective
• DNA Line of skates
• L7 Glove – Used by over 60 NHL players
• L7 Skate
• Syndicate line of skates
• Wicked Light Glove
• Every Mission Pant after the first year

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• Teemu Selanne’s custom gloves. This took forever, but he finally switched.
• Motion Goalie Pads
• Every Custom jersey I designed for NARCh finals, especially the first Tuxedo Jersey and the Argyle Sweater jersey

My days at Mission were not all about working there. I was lucky enough to become a member of our Pro Team. I spent many years as a backup, and like to think of myself as a professional door opener. It wasn’t until my last few years at Mission that I became the starter. The highlight of my professional career was spending two weeks with the Anaheim Ducks during training camp. J.S. Giguere was a contract holdout out and we had just spent the summer having practice skates with many NHL players at Disney Ice. I knew a lot of the players from the Ducks (I had made a lot of their custom gloves), and with Giguerebeing a holdout (the rookie goalies were in their own camp), I was asked to participate. Maybe I was just a glorified shooter tutor, but for two weeks I got to put on a Ducks jersey, and took shots from the likes of TemmuSelanne and Sergei Federov. The highlight of the week was when I made a breakaway save on Sergei Federov. I wanted to pick up the puck, skate off the ice, and retire. That remains the highlight of my ice hockey “career.”

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Coming off my Ducks’ “training camp,” I hit the highest and lowest point of my roller playing career. That summer I had the honor of representing Team USA in the IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic. It was an amazing experience. Once again I owed it to Joe, who was the head coach. He picked me to back up Joe Bonvie. I actually got to play in two games and had a shutout in both. NARCh Winternationals was held that year in Las Vegas. I was playing great and help lead our Team to the #1 seed. Everything was going great until the finals against the Labeda Snipers. A moment Greg Thompson will never let me forget. It was overtime, and Joe Cook and Gerry St. Cyr had a 2 on 1. The puck was shot wide and wrapped around the boards to Greg. Greg took thepuck and buried the game winner between my legs. I couldn’t believe we lost. I was so mad that I got undressed and left Vegas immediately. Joe and I still laugh about it now. He wasn’t even out of the locker room and I was in Barstow (usually 2-3 hours away). I hate to lose. That tournament I received my only NARCh Pro Top Goalie, and I wasn’t there to accept it. I was too busy being angry and sad. Lesson learned.

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All good things must come to an end. That is what I thought when I made the decision to leave Mission. After 10 years of creating products used by some of the best hockey players in the world, I decided to leave the hockey world. I was offered a new opportunity to work for TaylorMade and Adidas Golf. I made this decision right before NARCh Finals. I was scheduled to be the goalie of the team, but decided it was best for me not to spend Mission’s money having me play in a tournament. I guess I was the curse, because our Pro Team won that year. James Bufalino played in my spot and played amazing.

TaylorMade/Adidas

I won’t spend much time diving into my days at TaylorMade/Adidas, but it taught me a lot about what it was like to work for a large corporation. Driving to Carlsbad everyday was a bit draining and stressful. But the skills, people, and knowledge helped me become a better product/marketing employee. It also gave me an opportunity to work on some CCM and Reebok hockey gear.

I quit playing hockey as soon as I left Mission. I guess I was burnt out, and wasn’t having fun. I kind of went dark on the whole hockey world. Joe and I still talked, but not as much as we used to. Fast-forward four years, and Joe and I began taking about starting our brand.

Alkali – Join the Movement

Starting our own brand was not a new topic for Joe and I. We had this conversation all the time during our numerous trips to China. We would sit in the bars, restaurants, ferry stations, etc. looking at the old guys in their suits, and say “I hope that’s not us in 20 years. I hope we are doing this for ourselves.” It was always our goal to have something that we could call our own. At the end of 2010 Joe and I began the process of creating our own brand: Armada. Well, that was the name we originally came up with. On my drive to the TaylorMade/Adidas office, I would drive past a street called Armada in Carlsbad. I thought, “what a cool name”. Obviously I wasn’t the only one.

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After not doing my proper research, I began designing logos, the gear, and the entire marketing plan for our new company. Samples were produced, jerseys were designed, press releases were written up, and then WHAM! I was telling my sister about the new company, and our name Armada. She instantly chuckled when I told her the name. See, my Brother In Law is a retired professional skier, and she asked if we had any conflict with Armada Skis. “Holy S**T” was a toned down version of my response. I knew we were going to have to change the name and we had to do it fast. Joe and I both agreed that we wanted to keep the “A” logo I had created, and that we wanted something that really didn’t mean anything to most people (especially after my debacle of naming the brand Armada). We liked brand names like Burton and Volcom. I began the process of creating a list of words (a process I still use today when naming products) in hopes of finding something that worked. I’m not really sure where Alkali came from, but when we heard the name we knew it was a winner. After doing some branding research, we got approval from our lawyers to use Alkali, and we were off. Alkali Hockey was formed.

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Joe and I started out working in a small office in Rancho Santa Margarita. It was amazing to work 5 minutes from my house after driving 1 hour each way to Carlsbad. I was in heaven. Joe quickly hired Alex Maynard to be our operations manager and Jay Russell to be our Team/Athlete and sales assistant. Things went fast. We were working our tails off getting the product, catalogs, booths, etc. ready for launch. Financing for the brand was secured with a private third party investor who let Joe run the business. It was a dream come true. Our first launch to the public was at NARCh in Florida. People were wondering what this new brand was. Al-Cali is how a lot of the people from the East Coast pronounced it. We spent twenty something days working 15 hour days. This was our baby and we were so proud of it. Like with any new launch we ran into some product issues. We moved into our new warehouse in Lake Forest. It was a great corner unit that was completely redone for us. We all pitched in building desks, putting in racks for product, and getting computer systems in place. It’s amazing how much goes into starting a company from scratch. By fourth quarter of 2011, we had product in our warehouse and in most of the big stores. Overall, the product was well received and held up. However, we did run into some sizing issues with pants, as well as a complete miss on our forecast. It was pretty smooth for a completely new company.

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Over the next couple of years, we all worked hard to be the best brand in hockey. We knew we were making waves in the industry when we received our first letter from Bauer’s Lawyers. We were going after Mission and Bauer, and our goal was to be the best company in hockey. By the end of year 3, Alkali was established as the #2 brand in Roller Hockey. It was an amazing accomplishment and a true testament to the hard work of everyone at Alkali: Joe, Jay, Alex, Stephen, Michelle, Jason, and myself. We all contributed and we all lived the “Alkalife.”

2015 – The worst year of my professional life. 2011-2014 was amazing. The growth of Alkali and the following we created was something special. It all came crashing down over a couple month period. By the middle of June, Alkali was being sold and we were all out of a job. I won’t go into details, but it was a terrible time for all involved. I am just glad the brand survived.

After my lay off, I became pretty depressed and worried about how I would take care of my family. Luckily I had some equity in my car and sold it. It helped my family float for a month. This month gave me time to find a new job. One thing that has been consistent during my entire hockey life is my loyalty to Labeda. I have been using Labeda Wheels on my skates since the Pink Sport court blems I bought from Bud’s Pro Skate. There were some moments during my career where I used Red Star, Hyper, or Rink Rat, but it was usually due to pricing targets we had to hit for OEM business.

Labeda Family

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I met Rob, Kevin, and Scott about 18 years ago. Through the years, I have played on numerous Labeda teams andin Labeda events. When I found out I may lose my job, Rob was the first person I called. Rob is a great friend and someone I respect in the hockey world. I knew Labeda had a strong brand name, and that we could really build something great. Labeda has always been the leader in roller hockey wheels, and I believed we could expand their offerings to pants, gloves, and bags. I had the experience of recently launching a brand, and knew what it would take to get Labeda gear accepted by the inline player. In July of 2015 I started full time at Labeda. We have since launched a full line of Labeda Pamagloves, pants, bags, and head to toe custom uniforms. This new chapter in my life is just beginning, but It has been awesome being part of a Dynasty. I look forward to many more years building this amazing brand in different categories.

When I started this story I mentioned that I probably worked on some gear that you may have used. Here is a list of just some of the companies I have had the pleasure to either work for or freelance design for:

Alkali, Labeda, Mission, CCM, Bauer, Nike, RBK, Easton, Revision, Gear, Tron, Rink Rat, Redstar, Vulcan, Itech, Sherwood, Bilt-Rite, Projoy, Burly, Koho, Faction, and Hyper.

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I feel like I have left so much out, as a lot happens in 20+ years of being involved in hockey. There are so many people who have been a positive part of my hockey life that it would be almost impossible to mention them all. However, I wouldn’t be where am I today without a few key people: My wife Amy, my kids Ali and Zach, my parents, and Joe.

We all love roller hockey, and I believe people need to take responsibility for their actions. Loyalty goes a long way and I hope people in our industry/sport put in as much as they take out.

I may not always follow this, but Tyler is right, E.L.E.

Thanks for reading my story.

-Justin Hoffman
#1933

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