Saunders Archery Targets Wider European Market
The Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) is helping Saunders Archery refine its aim as it introduces a unique Wrist-Rocket precision slingshot to new overseas markets.
Founded by Phyllis and Chuck Saunders in the basement of their Chicago apartment more than 50 years ago, Saunders Archery remains a family-run business, now employing a total of 20 people at manufacturing facilities in Columbus, Neb. and Papillion. One of their sons, Chuck, serves as CEO, while his brother, Tom, is company president. A third brother, Gene, retired 10 years ago.
Saunders Archery manufactures and markets a wide variety of archery accessories, along with Wrist-Rocket slingshots and accessories. The company is known for its innovative products, which have made the sport more fun and affordable for the beginner while providing more precision and enjoyment to the enthusiast.
One of its newest designs is the Wrist-Rocket Wing, a folding slingshot that cradles between the thumb and forefinger to yield greater precision as well as ease of use, Chuck Saunders says. “You obtain better energy control in the way you hold it,” he says. “The unit actually floats on your fingertips.”
Saunders Archery has been working with Josh Nichol-Caddy, NBDC export and market research analyst, and other NBDC consultants as it implements its plan to roll out the Wing to an expanded European market before transitioning to China, Saunders says.
“We turned to NBDC when we decided that the European rollout was critical to trying to capture a market that is already saturated with conventional slingshots,” he says. “Josh knows that this is a unique product, and an equally unique project that is going to take an ongoing effort to accomplish.”
Nichol-Caddy says the NBDC has provided Saunders Archery market research at no cost through the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), helping managers decide where to focus sales efforts for the new product. NBDC has also provided lists of sales leads, as well as contact information for trade representatives in markets of interest.
NBDC consultants are keeping the leadership at Saunders Archery informed about relevant professional development opportunities, and additional resources available through Nebraska’s Department of Economic Development, with emphasis on its China and Japan offices, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and U.S. Department of Commerce.
“Managers at Saunders Archery have worked with export resources throughout the state to navigate market entry, contacting the U.S. Commercial Service and International Trade Administration about ways to overcome trade barriers facing its new product in Europe,” Nichol-Caddy says.
Saunders says the company does approximately 70 percent of its business in foreign markets including Japan. “The Wing has tremendous potential,” he says. “It is a radical departure in ergonomics and features not duplicated in other slingshots. We think the Chinese market has huge potential.”
Nichol-Caddy says NBDC consultants also deployed a newly developed pricing app to help Saunders managers set a reasonable price that would turn a healthy profit without inviting competition from low-cost knock-offs.
Saunders says the company’s relationship with Nichol-Caddy and the NBDC “has been a real give and take. It has felt much more like a partnership. He has been a very helpful advocate.”