By Eric Smith
A new chapter is underway at Crosman Corp., the holding company of such well-known sportsman’s brands as Crosman, Benjamin, CenterPoint Archery, CenterPoint Optics, LaserMax and Game Face Airsoft.
The company’s roots date back to 1923, when Crosman Rifle Co. formed in Rochester, NY. Numerous ownership and name changes have occurred over the years, and on Monday the company added another milestone to its lengthy timeline.
Crosman Corp.—the holding company of the previously mentioned brands— has formally changed its name to Velocity Outdoor.
Despite the new name and look, CEO Bob Beckwith told SGB there won’t be much change for suppliers or consumers. Velocity will remain a subsidiary of Compass Diversified Holdings Inc. (CODI), will continue to operate the same brands (none of which are undergoing name changes) and will carry its mission of providing innovative products in the hunting, shooting and outdoor markets.
“We’re talking with our customers, and we’re talking with our suppliers and making sure they understand what’s going on, that really nothing is changing in who they deal with and how we deal with them,” Beckwith told SGB on Monday soon after the name change was announced. “We want our customers and our suppliers to get a better idea of the company that we are today versus the company that we were 20 years ago.”
Here is the rest of SGB’s conversation with Beckwith about what drove the rebrand, and that while this move reflects a new identity, it doesn’t change the company’s nearly century-old purpose.
What drove the decision for Crosman to even consider a new name? We’re a company with many strong brands. We’ve been around for 90 years, and for many of those 90 years, we really only sold airguns and related products, but today that’s just not true. Crosman’s only one of the brands that we market under. We’ve got CenterPoint Optics, CenterPoint Archery, LaserMax, GameFace Airsoft. … We felt that we needed a name that really encompassed all of our brands—something that said we’re not just an airgun company, because we’re not.
How did the company land on the name Velocity Outdoor, and how does the new name better represent the company’s path moving forward? This was really a team effort here, led by our VP of marketing, Jennifer Lambert. We brainstormed some ideas. We filtered them down and did a number of studies to gauge reactions from a variety of different stakeholders. And ultimately it fit because Velocity is clearly an important part of many of the outdoor products that we sell. We’re also an innovative company that’s always looking to the future, and Velocity fit well within our culture and our direction.
How long did the process take; which stakeholders were involved in the name change, and what were some of the lessons learned along the way? We bounced it off a number of people both inside our company and with some people we work with on the outside. Our board trusts us to do the right thing, and we certainly gauged their reaction to it. CODI was also extremely supportive in the process and in the decision, and they asked, ‘Where we can be helpful?’ But ultimately it was work that we did here. And we think it was fairly smooth. But we’ve really just started, so ask me again in six months [laughs].
Does this rebrand bring anything else new to the company as you change names from Crosman to Velocity Outdoor? It does not. We’re just making sure that everyone knows who we are. The key part, though, is we’re not changing our brands. Our brands are clearly very important to us. They resonate with our customers, and our customers like our brands, so we’re not going to do anything to change any of that. This is more about the holding company. It’s not as though everything is going to be branded as Velocity Outdoor. You’re not going to see Velocity on the packaging.
Was there any concern that the new name would diminish the brand equity built over years, and how do you maintain the company’s roots while also looking ahead? The reality is we had CenterPoint Optics and GameFace Airsoft for a number of years. We’ve had the crossbows for a few years now. We’ve had youth archery for a number of years. I don’t really think it changes anything. We’re going to continue to do things the way we’ve always done them over the years that makes us successful. The brands aren’t going to be any more or any less important. They’re going to continue to be as important as anything is we have. It’s not going to change anything about how we do things in this building.
What is the market looking like right now for Velocity Outdoor and where do you see growth opportunities? Are you bullish on the future of your brands moving forward? Absolutely. We’re in a pretty good, solid market and our growth is going to continue to come the way it always has—by delivering innovative, high-quality products for the customer at a great price. Customers are continuing to look for innovation and improvement. If you’re a consumer products company and you’re not innovating and improving your products, then you’re not going to make it. We have a history of innovating and improving, and we’re going to continue to go down that road. That’s what it’s going to continue to make us successful.
Anything else that’s important to this discussion that you want to share with our readers about Velocity Outdoor or your brands? When they hear Crosman, it’s always been an airgun company, and that brand is still incredibly strong, so we’re not going to dilute that brand at all. But I think it’s important customers know that when they’re dealing with Velocity, they’re dealing with a company with a lot of brands and a lot of power behind those brands. When the consumer is buying, for example, a LaserMax laser and they look around and do any research on the brands, they’re going to find that it’s backed up by a pretty substantial company that’s going to be able to stand behind the product itself.
Photo courtesy Velocity Outdoor