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Big vs Small


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Big vs Small   

21 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you prefer big hockey companies or small?

    • Big
      9
    • Small
      12


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The recent discussion on the CCM thread got me thinking... 

Please vote on the poll and feel free to explain why in the body of this thread... 

I am curious if people like big companies or small when purchasing gear? 

My Thoughts:

Pros of Big: More R&D and resources (OD1N, First molded pad core, Cowling-less skate, advanced materials) and widely available products 

Pros of Small: More customization, better customer service, direct relationship with company, and classic ingenuity for R&D

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Bigger. I've got great access to try/hold new gear as it releases. I have always been able to piece together gear from multiple companies and find what works best for me. Going custom is almost completely unnecessary.

While (mostly) good things have been said about the smaller companies, having to trust that I'm going to like the gear after I've already paid and waited for it just rubs me the wrong way. Especially if they sell you on a prototype and won't disclose any of the spec details to you at all. It's called a NDA, use it...

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This is a good poll question.  My main rule when buying gear is that it needs to be made in North America.  Having said that, my gear pattern has evolved into small companies for everything outside of legs and gloves.  My legs and gloves have become Brians and Bauer, everthing else is a combination of Passau, Brown, Otny, and Coveted.  I do believe that it is the technology for the gloves and legs that has moved the needle from being an all smaller company guy.

-steve

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I used to be a smaller company guy. However I've felt that technology has jumped so quickly the last few years from the big companies, I'm not seeing so much innovation with the smaller guys - some are still using essentially the same designs with a few tweaks from 2010 (i.e Simmons). Yes customer service, and made domestic product is great and all, but I personally love seeing innovation (and in my personal line of work, I push innovation to firms) to help aid us in our game however little it can be... at least for me, since I know the ability isn't all there haha. 

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I said "small" but it really depends. My two favorite companies are Brian's and Vaughn, but my son has a Bauer for trapper and CA which I like as well. Altho I like some Bauer stuff, I don't feel any "excitement" or "connection" with Bauer like I do with Brian's or Vaughn. I don't like CCM at all, partly because I don't like the feel of their gear, but also I feel they are too "big" and over-exposed in the NHL. I've looked at smaller guys like Passau and McKenney, and wouldn't mind going with them. Altho, yea, McKenney hasn't really evolved in the last 5-10 years, from what I see of them.

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I prefer small so I can interact with the people making my gear. Big and small companies can make advanced, innovative gear. Certainly the bigs have more resources to find the latest materials and hire the best designers.

Pete Smith and Dennis Dombrowski are nowhere near “me too” types. Yes- Pete is now with Warrior and was with big companies prior,  but his solo stuff was innovative. Dennis has some of the most identifiable stuff despite not having his name plastered on it. Dennis’ modular system on the back of his pads is something nobody else is doing. His catch glove with palm inserts is certainly innovative. 

I can’t buy the argument that small can’t be innovative, as big can be copy cats. 

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6 minutes ago, bunnyman666 said:

I can’t buy the argument that small can’t be innovative, as big can be copy cats. 

I think the argument is that Big is more likely to push the innovative envelope than Small. More funds, More R&D, Bigger audience to test new ideas, etc.

They just have a larger resource pool to push innovation. Not saying that Small can't be innovative or never are, it's just that you see most of the changes coming from the big 5. (K, maybe not so much Vaughn).

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4 minutes ago, bunnyman666 said:

I prefer small so I can interact with the people making my gear. Big and small companies can make advanced, innovative gear. Certainly the bigs have more resources to find the latest materials and hire the best designers.

Pete Smith and Dennis Dombrowski are nowhere near “me too” types. Yes- Pete is now with Warrior and was with big companies prior,  but his solo stuff was innovative. Dennis has some of the most identifiable stuff despite not having his name plastered on it. Dennis’ modular system on the back of his pads is something nobody else is doing. His catch glove with palm inserts is certainly innovative. 

I can’t buy the argument that small can’t be innovative, as big can be copy cats. 

To go along with this, and many cases the bigs need to stay “safe” for their customers so they know what they’re getting. 

There is zero chance the Bauer 1S would have been considered for mass production if Bauer had a well established, heavily adopted pad. The NXG wasn’t super popular in the scheme of things and the Reactor was crap. 

Not saying Bauer is a small name but they weren’t exactly huge in the goalie pad world either. 

Somebody like Vaughn selling the tech Bauer has now would not have gone over well at all. 

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1 minute ago, coopaloop1234 said:

I think the argument is that Big is more likely to push the innovative envelope than Small. More funds, More R&D, Bigger audience to test new ideas, etc.

They just have a larger resource pool to push innovation. Not saying that Small can't be innovative or never are, it's just that you see most of the changes coming from the big 5. (K, maybe not so much Vaughn).

It depends on the “innovation”. Some of these so-called innovations end up costing gear durability.

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1 minute ago, bunnyman666 said:

It depends on the “innovation”. Some of these so-called innovations end up costing gear durability.

Fair enough. I do think you're right that there is more of a push towards functionality than for durability (Bauer).

Though, for arguments sake, innovation in the goalie market doesn't generally relate to durability but mostly performance.

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1 minute ago, coopaloop1234 said:

Fair enough. I do think you're right that there is more of a push towards functionality than for durability (Bauer).

Though, for arguments sake, innovation in the goalie market doesn't generally relate to durability but mostly performance.

Sure, but a OD1N pad  is hard to repair; when a pad cost $1700, I want to get a few years out of it.

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Just now, bunnyman666 said:

Sure, but a OD1N pad  is hard to repair; when a pad cost $1700, I want to get a few years out of it.

That's why I buy Senior leg pads. ;) Half the cost and allows me to make an excuse to when they eventually break down in 3-5 years to get a new set and try something new.

It's why I've gone from premier to velocity to RGT.

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4 minutes ago, coopaloop1234 said:

That's why I buy Senior leg pads. ;) Half the cost and allows me to make an excuse to when they eventually break down in 3-5 years to get a new set and try something new.

It's why I've gone from premier to velocity to RGT.

LOL 

I get it. I saw a pair of Senior G2 and they still looked pretty good, though I could not say the same for the glove and blocker. 

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1 hour ago, bunnyman666 said:

LOL 

I get it. I saw a pair of Senior G2 and they still looked pretty good, though I could not say the same for the glove and blocker. 

Gloves usually wear out quicker than leg pads. I'm only in my second year with my SZ2 mitts and they look beat to shit already. My V4 leg pads are also only in their second year, but look pretty good.

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11 minutes ago, estogoalie said:

Gloves usually wear out quicker than leg pads. I'm only in my second year with my SZ2 mitts and they look beat to shit already. My V4 leg pads are also only in their second year, but look pretty good.

That's for sure.

My V4 leg pads looks in half decent shape and I had them for almost two years longer than my V5 blocker / LT90 glove that are showing some good wear.

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29 minutes ago, estogoalie said:

Gloves usually wear out quicker than leg pads. I'm only in my second year with my SZ2 mitts and they look beat to shit already. My V4 leg pads are also only in their second year, but look pretty good.

That is for certain.

But on that Warrior set I saw in PIAS, the gloves looked beat to shit, but pads  looked pretty good. Of course the lack of toe trims make a HUGE difference!

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I voted small cause I do believe in supporting North American made gear and you get to talk to the builder himself and have more say in how you want your end product to be.

In saying that, I'm finding that some of the smaller guys are boosting their prices some to meet up halfway the bigger outfits. I do support Brian's pro gear as it's still made in Canada, but the price is a killer. I also find myself curious about Warrior gear (R/GT), whether the pro or senior stuff. 

And to be honest, I can walk into any gear shop anywhere and find the likes of Vaughn, Bauer, Warrior, Brian's, CCM - which makes it easier to try on and see firsthand the gear, something I can't do with the smaller companies, so it's always a gamble. The majority of the big companies are produced overseas and their prices are very steep.

In the end, buying gear from a small company you've never had the chance to try or see up close can become more expensive if it's not what you expected or responds or feel like you wanted. Despite this, I'd still consider the smaller guy first.

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I voted big because I know what I'm going to get when I look into their gear (part of the reason they [big brands/gear lines] have become so successful and relied upon in the first place, and are more "tried and true" in a sense), and I get to try on their gear in store. 

Great arguments from both sides of the fence. And honestly, if I had endless resources I would have multiple sets from big and smaller brands. But I don't. So I stick with something I know will work well for my game (In my case, the RBK/CCM Premier line over the years). 

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In light of recent events with regards to the unprofessional-ism I'v dealt with from a smaller company, at the moment I'd have to say big.

Also, I know myself and that I will buy gear and sell it in under 3 years. And let's be honest, someone in Florida or Iowa or even British Columbia is less likely to know about companies like McKenney or Boddam etc. and that gear is gonna be harder for me to move. Smaller company gear is VERY tough to move in my experience and it's becomes so challenging you start low-balling yourself because you begin to believe you'll never move it. It may seem silly to others but I take it into consideration as one of the factors of buying gear.

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I guess it depends how we're defining terms - I don't see Brians as a 'small' company per se, but when I was ordering my custom set in 2015 I was about to pull the trigger on XLT's (I was in P4's at the time), but got swayed towards Brians because of their innovation and because there was a more direct route through the rep to sort specs and changes etc. In the words of guy I ordered through, with Reebok / CCM 'once the specs are with them in their China factory thats that'.

Being in europe / the UK its 95% CCM / Bauer in stores here, and whilst that stuff is more accessible, being big companies means that they're subject to pricing zones and shipping restrictions (can't ship anything Bauer from a NA retailer to Europe) to cover the costs of third party distributors. Good example being my Bauer NME7 - few months into owning it I took a shot to the face that bent the curved bar of the cat eye back about 2 inches - more than was reasonable to use it without concern. I was quoted around £120 ($160 US) at most UK retailers for a new Bauer cat eye, and not much less by European retailers, if they were even allowed to ship overseas. I ended up getting a cert cage from ebay.ca for about $30 CAN plus shipping, then eventually buying a higher quality cat eye from a third party manufacturer for around $100 USD. Upshot being that my next mask will be a Wall as a *smaller* manufacturer because they're just over in Finland and are fairly readily accessible, and not subject to inflated prices for distro or customs charges for import etc.

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1 hour ago, raucebyalien said:

I guess it depends how we're defining terms - I don't see Brians as a 'small' company per se, but when I was ordering my custom set in 2015 I was about to pull the trigger on XLT's (I was in P4's at the time), but got swayed towards Brians because of their innovation and because there was a more direct route through the rep to sort specs and changes etc. In the words of guy I ordered through, with Reebok / CCM 'once the specs are with them in their China factory thats that'.

Being in europe / the UK its 95% CCM / Bauer in stores here, and whilst that stuff is more accessible, being big companies means that they're subject to pricing zones and shipping restrictions (can't ship anything Bauer from a NA retailer to Europe) to cover the costs of third party distributors. Good example being my Bauer NME7 - few months into owning it I took a shot to the face that bent the curved bar of the cat eye back about 2 inches - more than was reasonable to use it without concern. I was quoted around £120 ($160 US) at most UK retailers for a new Bauer cat eye, and not much less by European retailers, if they were even allowed to ship overseas. I ended up getting a cert cage from ebay.ca for about $30 CAN plus shipping, then eventually buying a higher quality cat eye from a third party manufacturer for around $100 USD. Upshot being that my next mask will be a Wall as a *smaller* manufacturer because they're just over in Finland and are fairly readily accessible, and not subject to inflated prices for distro or customs charges for import etc.

I don't like CCM and Bauer for the reasons you stated, ie: too "corporate". It's like it doesn't matter to them if they are selling car parts,  toasters or goalie gear.  That said, if they make some equipment that I like, and find a good deal on, I'll still buy it. But first I'm looking at brands I like, like Brian's and Vaughn, because I know they appreciate their customers and take time to interact with them.

As for masks, Wall is a very good choice. I tried a W10 and loved the fit. I'm still locked in to ReidiC however. Which is another small company. Since 2011 it changed hands and is being run by one guy in Sweden, who is not very good at communicating. The website is outdated, and many people complain he doesn't answer emails from the website. I have his personal mail, and altho he can be slow sometimes, he always delivers. I've bought a few times masks and parts from him over the last few years. And prices are reasonable.

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I voted big but most of my gear except for skates and sticks are from a small company, Simmons. Two years ago I would have voted small but like others have said, most of the "small" guys (not all) when it comes to pads and gloves have become stagnant design wise. Hell, some of these companies are still basically selling the same Velocity clones they started their business with just with minor updates they've had no choice but to make over the years. This isn't necessarily a bad thing if the costs are kept in check. The end user generally has a pretty good idea of what they are getting and how the gear is going to play because they've been using the same equipment since 2001.

I am all for the big guys pushing new innovations and spending the money to make the position easier or just putting the gear on and getting comfortable much quicker, the downside to the most recent gear trends in goal development is that if you don't like a stiff pad this new stuff does nothing for you, you will hate it.

I also can't stand that everything, up to and including NHL'ers gear is made off-shore now. I understand the reasoning, hell I understand the absolute necessity for these companies to drive profits but it still burns me that they are charging more for pro-level gear than they ever have while making record profits on the backs of (let's be honest) people working slave wage factory jobs. This is the cost of doing business in a world economy designed to squeeze every last cent out of everything and it's kind of sad. I also don't think the quality control is still anywhere near what we used to get with a North American made product but all of this is a whole different argument.

This all being said I know i'm going to end up in either a G series Warrior pad or a Bauer 1x pad next year and it's solely due to how much this gear can change the position for the better. My Bauer S190 skates have made me a believer that sometimes we have to get out of our personal comfort zone and try something new if the end result is a better personal performance.

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