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An Interview with Dave Robb, TenPoint Crossbows Marketing Manager

 

Good morning Dave and welcome on Crossbow-Review, can you just spend a couple of words to introduce yourself?  

I am the Director of Marketing and one of the founding TenPoint stockholders.  When I’m not working, my wife and I enjoy cooking for friends.  We also enjoy traveling, particularly in Europe.  We’ve made more trips to Italy than any other spot.  It’s our favorite European destination. 

TenPoint Crossbows a few months ago opened a section on the corporate Web site called BYOB (build your own bow) where you can basically build your dream crossbow selecting among several options: how is this initiative going?

I’d say it is going about as we expected.  With that in mind, we did not start the program thinking that huge numbers of people would be attracted to the concept.

We played for a while on the web site and it is not difficult to end up with a configuration worth over $2500, a price point quite far from most of competitor offerings, what are the differences in selling a crossbow at that price point?

At that price level you would be purchasing the crossbow and the complete package of accessories, so the price is somewhat deceiving.  Obviously, this offer is not for everyone.  It is our attempt to satisfy a relatively small group of customers who can afford the crossbow and who are looking for our best technology packaged in a custom manner that appeals to their individual tastes.  We’ll see what happens.

Do you customers come from US or you also got orders from around the world? (Maybe some unexpected ones?)

We are proud of our international business activity.  In 2009, we expect our international sales to exceed 15% of our total.  Because Canada is a close neighbor and has similar hunting laws to those here in the United States, our sales there exceed other export markets.  Eastern and Western Europe, however, account for the next largest block of international sales.  We sell all over the world, but sales outside of Europe and Canada are comparatively small.

Are you planning to expand the BYOB offering to other models?

We have given thought to expanding the BYOB program to include other models, but I think we will give the original program another year before considering expansion.

Let’ talk about the upcoming lineup for 2009: the new GT Mag, new Defender and the Titan HLX what is the inspiration behind these new models?

First, the Defender.  Our CLS (Compact Limb System) bow assembly design has proved to be so successful and effective that we decided to add it to our 6 Point Series lineup with the Defender.  We wanted to make this superior technology more accessible and affordable to the consumer.  Till now the design was only available on our most expensive models, the two Phantoms and the Shadow.

The GT Mag 200-pound recurve design uses the same stock assembly as the Defender.  In other words, the Defender CLS bow assembly and the GT Mag bow assembly both work on the Defender stock assembly.  In fact, we offer the Defender / Mag Combo – one stock assembly accompanied by both front ends.  Nobody else has ever made a combination recurve / compound crossbow before.  We’re anxious to see what kind of interest in the combo develops.

The fact that there is a new recurve model in the lineup seems to suggest the 08 recurves had a great success…

The GT Mag is a natural extension of our GT Flex, the 180-pound recurve we introduced last year.  The Flex successfully competed with the recurve offered by our neighbor and competitor  to the north of us because the Flex is equally accurate but quieter, lighter, and more maneuverable. 

… And you added a more powerful option because hunters want to engage larger and bigger game with a classic look crossbow?

Yes, the 200-pound version absolutely steps up the speed and kinetic energy and will help us compete even better in the recurve market. 

What about the new Defender CLS ? it looks like you tried to merge the best of both words: the  power and light front end of the Phantom and the ergonomic stock and barrel of the SixPoint…

Exactly.  I hunted with the Defender this past season and absolutely fell in love with its fit, balance and functionality.  While not quite as powerful as the Phantom (175-pounds rather than 185-pounds), it handled like a dream and still shot 330 fps.  When I was sighting it in, I pounded the x-ring at twenty yards with ease.

Judging from the pictures you released looks like your guys in the engineering dept did a lot of homework: the front riser maintains the familiar look of the Phantom but also seems lighter?

That’s correct.  The Defender’s riser is lighter than last year’s Phantom version.  We also made some design revisions to the Phantom riser to make it a bit lighter.

Commercial crossbows are, generally, a consolidated machine with a somewhat conservative design. We have, however, recently seen some companies daring something different (Armcross Leopro, Horton ReCon, Swiss Twinbow , Bowtech Desert Striker). Is the market ready for something different?

We will see.  The consumer will decide the eventual success of these radical designs.  I can say that our aesthetic preference is for traditional designs.  If the consumer loses interest in our aesthetic, we’ll respond appropriately, but presently our designs could not be selling better.

What do you think of the current trend:”my crossbow is faster than yours”?

We have the ability to make crossbows that shoot at any speed we choose.  That being said, however, we strongly believe that crossbow speeds should remain comparable to vertical bow speeds.  We want crossbows to be allowed without restriction during archery seasons in North America.  If crossbows ballistically outperform vertical bows, those who oppose their use in archery season have a reason to complain.

Michigan just established a 350 fps speed limit for crossbows in its archery season.  While such a regulation does not allow for the advancement in technology – vertical or horizontal bows – we are not unhappy with the regulation.  Actually, 350 fps is way more speed than is needed to successfully harvest big game.  In short, we don’t think much of the “my bow is faster than yours” mentality.  We believe it is far more important to concentrate on continuous improvement of our product quality and performance.  We are not obsessed with making faster crossbows at this time.

More and more states in US are opening for crossbow hunting, the hunting market is expanding and the expanded lineup from Tenpoint and other manufactures is addressing this, but what about new markets:  Maybe a specially tailored crossbow for (cross)Bowfishing ? or something for target ?

Bowfishing is gaining in popularity here, and we will respond to that market.  Crossbow target shooting has not caught on in the USA or Canada though, so we have not dedicated much time to designing target bows.  When I say “designing target bows” I am primarily referring to cosmetics because our crossbows are deadly accurate and perfectly suited for target shooting.    In fact, our bows took first place in the male, female, and senior categories at the 2008 European Crossbow Championships.   I can see, however, where a target shooter might not be in love with a fully camouflaged bow.  If we detect a serious market for target bows, we will certainly take notice.  

 

Thanks Dave Robb and TenPoint!

 

 
       
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