Sport Factory’s marketing office
In 1993 I decided to take part of the marketing dept in Sport Factory thanks to the support of Hermann Kapferer, CEO Burton Europe and Jake too.
I moved to Riva del Garda as a consultant of the italian distributor of Burton when Ugo Risatti were the president and not only the founder. Sport Factory has been one of the most famous and more professional boardsport and fashion agency during the 90’s, and Andrea Sorbara was running the marketing dept.
My friend Giovanni Rezzoli was still my business partner and took care of the team that I was coaching while I took the car to visit the top 30 dealers in Italy to have an idea of what people thought about snowboarding and how they sell it.
The situation that I found was a disaster: nobody knew anything about snowboarding and nobody care about it. They were selling snowboards because it looks cool but this situation was not helping the market to grow so when I got back from this trip I talked to Ugo and Domenico Tavernini and asked them to be part of the sales team too because I was full of ideas of how to improve the market.
I was super motivated and I was involving dealers in many activities but at the end of winter season Hermann was not happy for the situation In Italy and in 1 month I had no job since Ugo lost Burton and could not give me other clients.
But then the unexpected: Hermann came over to Italy and choose me to open Burton Italia together: 1995 was the opening season of Sport Agency and Burton Italia. Since I had a girlfriend in Arco (Torbole) I decided to stay there and with her, Silvia Clei and Giovanni Rezzoli.
Silvia used to work in Sport Factory and knew everything about Burton from the financial side while Giovanni was helping me on the marketing side.
I’ve always been lucky to find good partners and Giovanni and Silvia were one of them, the first ones. Sport Agency had no experience in financial, reps, contracts, dealer service but with the support of Hermann and working 24/7 we survived thanks to the passion and devotion to this sport and to the men behind the Burton brand.
Sport Agency was demos, marketing, events, camps, translations, dealer service and unfortunately even dismiss employees: I had to do big decisions that I was not ready for, since I had to fire 4 reps of 8 due to the economic crisis.
Some who were working as reps at that time are still at my side: Claudio Casella and Luigi Lanari, together with Andrea Andorlini, were 2 important reps for Sport Agency at the time, and for me, since 1995 until now.
Everyday was a challenging day, but not only for me: Hermann was supporting me always, sharing with me happiness and problems, and my house too: he used to come to Italy every 20 days, worked with me all day and then sleep hard on my couch too! I feel so lucky to have found Herman along the way. But Hermann is a lucky person too: he found a solid person with passion who never gave up.
In fact, in the next 3 years the market increased a lot and Sport Agency need more people, more motivated people, so I decided to involve Beppe Cargnino, a rider and a friend of mine, and in 1997 he became part of the company. Sport Agency were the prototype of what actually is an agent for Burton today and we were also the first agency included in the SAP system of the company.
In my portfolio as an agent I had all the shops in Lombardy but also all big clients in the whole Italy too: shops that made the history of this sport like Morgan Air in Lombardy, WP in Rome and Mr Longoni and his shops around the territory. Sergio Longoni has been always an open minded person and support Burton since the beginning.
Milan’s first showroom
In 1998 Sport Agency opened the first showroom in Milano inside a gym and day after day we were getting bigger and stronger. Moving to Milano was a big step but it became easier when i met Jlenia, actually she’s my wife.
Thanks to her moving to Milano and living there was easier, even because I had to change my partners, since Giovanni decided to not live in a big city as Milano, and he was right, of course!!
With Jlenia we decided to start a family and the next year my daughter Martina was born, she light up my life. At that time Sport Agency can be considered as one of the most progressive agency in the italian market: we were fully dedicated to Burton, no other brands were in the showroom; we were showing the whole collection, each product in each color; we were using models to show the outerwear and we had riders who were selling the hardgoods.
Since Giovanni and Silvia were not part of the team anymore I had to find new partners: Antonio Villa, Massimiliano Galbiati and many other friends helped me for the start up in Milano and with the arrival of new brands like Gravis footwear.
The chapter of Sport Agency in Milano last only 2 years because I did not want live in Milano, especially because I did not want to grow up my daughter in the big city.
In 2000 Burton Italia moved to Lissone because this town was strategic for myself: Lissone was not too far from downtown and it was on the way to my hometown Bormio.
Sport Agency consisted in 300 mq of showroom and new dedicated but temporary persons in the sales and marketing until I found new good partners like Cristian Cagnoli who is still supporting me since 2002 and Pietro Poma. Cristian was fully dedicated in sales, since I decided to have no more rep in the north-west of Italy and sell to shops in Liguria, Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta.
Pietro Poma was taking care of demos and rental shops and did a great job in those years travelling all around italy for the all winter season. At that time the demo tour was one of the most important marketing activities and it was very expensive too. So, in order to make demos bigger and bigger there were only one solution: find sponsors.
On the marketing side I chose a young just graduated person, Silvia Zucchiatti, who was dedicated to sponsorships and to create the first press office in Sport Agency. That was officially the first time that marketing really became important in Sport Agency since we started working with Nokia, Budweiser, Volvo, Motorola and Fender Guitars.
We realized that sponsors liked demo tour, so Sport Agency put more efforts to create extra activities aside, like parties and contests, and sponsors liked the idea even more!
In few years demo tour turned into huge tours, with grass root events and parties. On one side we made sponsors happy and on the other side we were giving to consumers everything they wanted: demo, contest and party!!
Beside demo tour, Sport Agency improved the concept of the other fundamental marketing tool of the brand: the Burton World Tour. From 2002 Burton World Tour had an explosion in popularity and fun: from the first party at Ventaglio Club with Terje Hakonsen, through many other tour stops at Magazzini Generali with Shaun White, Romain deMarchi, Gigi Ruf, Danny Davis, Seppe Smits and many other riders, the BWT in Italy has been always a success.
Demo tour and BWT were the main activities of the marketing dept but not only: Sport Agency develop relationship with snowboard school, in primis 6.9 snowboard school, we supported snowparks not only by giving money but giving our knowledge of sponsorship, communication and pr and we loved to organize Dealer Meeting!!
Another fundamental step was my son’s birth in July 2003, the second and a male. Was good notice that make me dreaming about my youth and the future of Niccolò. In 2004 we created and owned the first website www.burton.it and we were the only agent in Europe that had a press office internally and results were pretty positive as a new experience.
In 2006 Sport Agency organized the first edition of River Jump, the first edition of Kids project and support Burton on the organization of the journey of Jake and his team here in Italy for the Olympic Games. The collaboration with Budweiser, the events that we have done with them, starting from the Olympic Games to the first edition of River Jump made me realize that what I have been doing in 10 years in marketing was not too bad at all.
Everything that we have done from 2002 to 2006 is nothing compared to events now-a-days but during these years we laid the groundwork of Performer and JP events. Finally, the growth from 1995 till today is my pride, the Burton Company has always had a seasonal growth steady over the years.
We had a marketshare of 40% and in specific areas as much as 50%. This is the result of passionate and dedicated team, well coordinated and made of skilled people
Sport Agency & Performer, a new era!
Performer was founded in 2007 while Sport Agency was leading the italian market thanks to the support of its reps: Claudio Casella, Cristian Cagnoli, Luigi Lanari and Giorgio Marconi have been always pushing forward and never gave up.
In 2007 also the big opening of the new Showroom in Lissone., the event was celebrated with a party namend “Evolving space”. In these years Performer enhances the communication dept, that was operating since 2003 as the only press office into a Burton agent office in Europe, and it implements the events side too: Toshiba, Samsung and Mars are some of the new sponsors that were taking part to the demo tour that shortly became the longest burton demo tour after the demo tour in US, with more than 13000 boards tested.
But the masterpiece of Perfomer has always been the River Jump: the concept was created more as a bet than a real event but it became true thanks to passion and dedication of Roberto Moresi (halfpipe head manager during the Olympic Games 2006 in Turin), Marco and Davide Rocca, owners of the Mottolino SPA, and Giorgio Zini head manager of APT di Livigno in those years.
River Jump became quickly one of the most awaited event in Italy and in 2010 it was the only TTR 5Star event in Europe for both of the contests: Brux Slope-style and Burn River Jump.
Nicola Borella had a key role in the organization of the RJ and he showed his skills implementing the concept of the event and the relationship with the other partners like Marco Rocca of Mottolino and his shapers, who has been constantly working to keep the Mottolino snowpark one of the best 3 snowparks in Europe.
In 2008 Performer has been recognized not only as as a winter event agency thanks to the first italian contest of surfing by night: the 3/4 Surf Challenge. With the support of the brand Analog and Nicola Bresciani, one of the best italian surfer ever, as co-organizer, Perfomer launched the 3/4 Surf Challenge in Forte dei Marmi, sponsored by Samsung and the years later by Bmw.
In 2010 Performer organized the King of the Night in Bormio, an event were snowboard and fmx riders were competing together. In the same year Perfomer signed the most important partnership with Bmw Italia, that will last 5 years.
Bmw chose the brand Burton and the snowboard market for the launch of many of its new cars: x1, x3, serie1, series 2 and series 2 active tourer.
The partnership will continue during the summer season too in the best resorts of Italy, starting from San Teodoro, Sardinia, for the launch of the new Bmw Serie1 at the best clubs of the coast, ”Ambra Day” and “La Luna”. Camilla Ronchi, wellknown italian speaker and journalist, presented both the events.
Performer is made by young and talent people and it is a flexible structure where people continuously change due to the needs of each client, but there is only one person who never changed and she is been here since the foundation, Elena Cavarero, who has been always fully dedicated to the main clients like Bmw.
Performer is not only about big events and roadshows but it cares also of the development of the sport and it made a lot of events for the young rippers: starting from the “Kids Project” during the Olympic Games in 2006, to the many project at Skipass exhibition in Modena, where more than 3000 kids had the chance to try snowboarding for free.
In 2011 Performer launched the “Junior freestyle camp”, a snowboard camp dedicated to the future snowboarders focused on freestyle teached by instructors and pro riders. The second edition in 2012 included also the italian tour stop of the “Park Jam Tour”, a slopestyle jam session reserved to riders under 18.
In 2013, Burton Italia signed a partnership with MINI, as just as the rest of Burton in the world. Today MINI substituted Bmw in all major marketing events of Burton Italia, starting from demo tour to Burton World Tour.