by Rogers Corporation on Jan 30, 2020
Elastomeric Material Solutions
We sat down with Rogers customer Geof Ochs of Sync to learn more about his company, its beginnings and how the partnership with Rogers has evolved. Geof grew up ski racing in Vermont at a small hill called Ascutney. After racing at Boston College, he moved to the mountains of Colorado to co-found SYNC in 2014. He now enjoys free skiing and mountain bike racing in the Colorado mountains.
Q: Why did you start the company?
A: The concept for SYNC Performance originated in February 2014 due to a lack of brands focusing on the alpine ski racer. The common sentiment at the time was that most soft goods brands had given up on the sport of ski racing. The epiphany came one day at Copper Mountain, Colorado during a sub-zero windy day watching US Ski Team athletes at pre-season training, a dedicated prep period prior to the season ahead. To keep warm they had on every jacket in their closet, along with their race suit and back protector. After every run, one particular athlete would be leaning over to unbuckle her boots, completely constricted by all of the bulky clothing. She used a few choice words I won’t mention here, looked over at us and exclaimed, “Can’t you fix this!?” Inspired and confident we could, we launched a Kickstarter campaign to create the first-ever knit stretch puffy jacket durable enough to be outerwear while also allowing for ultimate freedom of movement. With input from numerous athletes along the way, our team has continued to push the boundaries of innovative materials and design coupled with an athlete’s insights in every product we make.
Q: How did the relationship with Rogers begin?
A: Originally, the team was looking for an innovative solution for arm, back and leg padding in our race suits and Rogers XRD® Technology was on our radar from the beginning. Other companies were using basic EVA foam in their suits, but we wanted a better, more flexible option and Rogers offered these characteristics with XRD Technology. Our design philosophy is all about offering the highest quality products while maintaining a maniacal focus on the athlete and their insights. The best chefs go to farmer’s markets to find the highest quality ingredients, then decide what to cook. At SYNC, we share a similar philosophy with the materials we source coupled with the ski racing athletes’ expertise.
Q: Why did you choose XRD Technology?
A: We wanted a solution that would protect skiers from getting hurt while allowing for freedom of movement. Mobility is one of, if not the most important, characteristics of gear in ski racing. Between the start and finish, athletes make an infinite number of dynamic movements. The goal was to provide protection unlike anything else on the market but ultimately maintain a feeling where the padding was unnoticeable. XRD Technology is ideal as it is a lightweight, low-profile, breathable material that’s engineered for both repeated impact and shock absorption. We use XRD Technology in the high impact zones of our World Cup level race suits – upper arm from shoulder to elbow as well as knee, thigh and hip.
Q: In one sentence, what do you want people to understand when thinking about Sync?
A: We are a purpose-built, performance first brand that relies on direct insight from athletes to support their efforts.
Q. Can you elaborate on the market limitations you found when sourcing a material to meet your stringent performance requirements?
When you are working with some of the best athletes in the world, even the most minute details make a difference. Balancing their unique demands with the materials at play can make a difference between winning and losing by one-hundredth of a second. It’s challenging to be a US brand working in a sport that’s not super widely-known in the United States. In contrast, ski racing is one of the most popular sports in some European countries. Many of the European manufacturers get access to materials specific to ski racing a lot quicker than the US. We’re trying to change that by being more proactive in the pursuit of performance and working with international brands like XRD/Rogers.
Q. What industry trends are you seeing drive the need for high-performance apparel like SYNC’s?
I think the largest trend I am seeing right now is a function-first mentality. Every product on the market is getting so specific to its use-case these days. Skiing is the perfect case study, you could head out to the hill at 8 am and be set up with the perfect kit in the morning, but be completely overdressed in the afternoon, which may ruin your day or prevent you from skiing all day. High-performance apparel should help you perform longer, faster and better. Consumers are starting to respect the pursuit of the perfect apparel system and value that more than the fashion aspect. Our goal is to create a timeless design that performs exactly how it should for that activity, so you focus on that performance instead of the gear.
Q: What’s next for the company? Where do you see yourselves in a year? In five years? What’s the next mountain for SYNC to conquer?
Loaded question! Just kidding. I feel we are still very much in our infant years as far as technical apparel brands go. We think that by staying true to our roots and focusing on that alpine ski racing athlete and mountain athlete will bring us to good places. Most people pursuing an active lifestyle in the mountains are experiencing the same sensations or pain points as those athletes, they just may not realize how gear can enhance their experience. Our job is to help guide them through that process.