Company Spotlight: The re-launch of DEFCON Gloves
Fresh out of high school, Todd Crisman and his best friend Aaron Henley were gearing up for the winter season when, on a trip to Seattle’s Snowboard Connection, the two dropped by Mtn Co., a small family owned shop close to Stevens Pass, to check out some new gear. Mtn Co. had a small cut and sew shop on the back, and when the owners’ kids took over the shop, they started making bombproof mittens called “Fresh From Hell.”
Amped from his visit to Mtn Co., a lack of cash and being fed up with his current gloves situation, Todd “borrowed” his buddy Aaron’s OR (Outdoor Research) gloves, tore them apart and quickly got to work. “I borrowed Aaron’s mitts to ‘study the construction,’ but instead I tore them apart and traced all the pieces onto some grocery bags and beer cases to make my own sewing pattern,” says Todd. “Needless to say, Aaron was a bit bummed, but I assured him I would sew him a better pair and that we’d go into business together.”
On weekends and evenings, while his friends were partying, Todd stayed home and got to work with his Mom’s sewing machine, constantly exploring new ways to evolve his designs.
Four months later, Aaron was diagnosed with Leukemia, and three weeks after that his his best friend and future business partner had died. In tribute to Aaron, Grease Monkey Co. (GMC) was born. “I never sewed him a new pair of gloves like I had promised. This little retarded glove company was a tribute to him and really solidified my passion and tenacity to push this new business thing forward,” says Todd.
In 2002, when GMC was in its glory days, FourStar distribution was interested in buying the company, and for legal reasons, most likely trademark infringement on General Motors Corp., GMC became DEFCON. Todd never ended up selling the company but rather ran it himself over the next ten years, and those years would prove tough. Juggling family life and business is no easy task, and Todd felt like his family was getting the short end of the stick. From filing for bankruptcy in 2005 to partnering with C3 Worldwide (Capita, Coal & Union) and dealing with the uncertainty of Chinese manufacturers, DEFCON experienced it all and Todd became completely burnt out. But the brand technically never went away.
For the next three years Todd worked “normal” jobs and traveled the world with his family. “For the first time since I could remember, I could ride a chairlift and look at the mountain and my snowboard without thinking about work. I could just live in the moment and enjoy the ride,” says Todd. This time away would end up fueling his creative fire. And when Todd returned from his “vacation,” DEFCON was reborn.
DEFCON’s limited edition glove collection: (L-R) Scorpz Pipe Mitt, Revolucion’ Mitt, Transistor Glove
Going into 2012 with a new attitude and plenty of experience, Todd has re-launched the DEFCON brand and looks to take the glove company to the next level. “We are currently focusing on rebuilding our North American and European distribution and want to grow the brand gradually,” explains Todd. “I’m taking each step carefully so that our growth isn’t too explosive, the reason for our implosion in years past.”
With a fresh take on business, Todd is focusing all his attention on product development. They’ve partnered with Cocona Technologies, a company that makes breathable, moisture wicking, anti-microbial materials with its carbonized coconut fiber construction, a recent emerging trend within the snowboard world because of its eco-friendly properties. Additionally, DEFCON is offering an exclusive lifetime warranty on all their products. “We’ve put so much attention into the construction and durability of our product over the years that we can unresolvedly stand behind our product with a warranty as bold as this,” says Todd.
With limited distribution to core shops like Revolution Snow and Skate and Mission Ridge in Washington, Todd plans to slowly grow their brick and mortar presence over the next coming years. But all products will be offered on DEFCON’s website, defcongloves.com, so that anyone has a chance to give them shot. “I considered DEFCON an ultra-boutique as we’re super limited on distribution right now. But that’s all going to change in 2013 as we are ready to take the next step in our brand re-launch,” says Todd.
Head over to defcongloves.com to check out their entire line and pick up a pair for yourself. With that exclusive lifetime warranty, what do you have to lose?
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Jonathan Glass is the Online Editor at Snowboard Magazine. If he says he is going snowboarding it means he's at après, early.
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