I think a lot of us forget that even the bigger names in our sport had to start off somewhere, but to mark their 20th anniversary Lizard Skins have given this great account of how they’ve grown from their humble beginnings. Maybe this will give you inspiration to try and make your ideas a reality…
In 1992 Brian Fruit and Lance Larson met thanks to a mutual friend. Lance had the idea of making neoprene bicycle accessories under the name Lizard Skins.
After several months designing our humble new product line we ran our first ad in the back of Mountain Bike Action. We anticipated the ad hitting the newsstand January 1, 1993 but ready or not we started receiving calls before Christmas!
Our first months sales were $340.
Lance manufactured the product in Utah and Brian was in charge of sales/marketing in California for the first couple of years. In April 1995 Brian and his wife Annette and their newborn baby Bailey moved back to Utah to focus on Lizard Skins full time.
Sales grew rapidly with Lance and Brian working together in the same state.
In 1996 Brian and Annette bought a beat up old building at 25 West Center in Pleasant Grove. After going back and forth with the city a compromise was reached and Timpanogos Cyclery was opened in the front of the building to appease the city and their desire to collect sales tax, while Lizard Skins operated out of the back portion of the building.
In 2001 Brian bought out Lance and moved into a new a larger building finally putting sales, warehousing and production under one roof. During these cash starved post buyout years from 2001-2005 Lizard Skins didn’t see much growth. Despite these challenges Lizard Skins was able to move in to a bigger facility where we are currently located today.
With Brian in full control over the company we quickly went to work streamlining production and working on innovative new products. These turned out to be crucial changes that allowed Lizard Skins to eliminate debt and focus on growth. 2006 marked a new start for Lizard Skins. With all the debt retired from the buyout significant money could now be put into new products and increased inventory. Sales have steadily increase each year since 2005.
Lizard Skins started with a very small product line consisting of a fork boot and our standard chainstay protector. We quickly added an additional chainstay protector and fork boot as well as a headset seal. Next we added a rear suspension boot and then BMX donuts. Grips, BMX Pad sets, Shin Guards, Elbow Guards, gloves and bar end grips were added next. Our next round of good fortune came from the stick on protection – carbon leather and clear polyurethane chainstay protectors, frame patches and down tube protectors. Then 2009 rolled around and we launched the DSP bar tape. It was a huge uphill battle to convince anyone that a predominately Mountain Bike company could come up with a revolutionary new product for the road bike market. Little by little we put the tape in people’s hands and won them over.
We now have Lotto-Belisol, Vacansoleil DCM, Cannondale Cyclocross World Team, Telenet Fidea, and many other pro teams exclusively using our unique DSP bar tape. On the mountain side of things we have legendary riders Steve Peat, Darren Berrecloth, Cedric Gracia, Anne-Caroline Chausson, Greg Minnaar, Aaron Chase, and overall the most exceptional depth of talented athletes we have ever had.
Hitting 20 years has been an amazing accomplishment. I am so proud of the company that Lizard Skins has become. We have an incredible team that deliver top notch quality and superior service. We distribute Lizard Skins to more than 75 countries worldwide. In the beginning 100% of our products were made in the USA. Today we manufacture everything we can in the USA but are not against teaming up with great suppliers in the USA or overseas when they can bring key technology and manufacturing benefits to our designs.
We would like to say thanks to all our incredible partners for an amazing 20 years! We look forward to the next 20.