15 Minutes With Kevin Wulff, CEO of ASICS America
On Thursday night, Eugene Daily News had the opportunity to meet with Kevin Wulff, CEO of ASICS America. We talked with Kevin about Ryan Hall, an ASICS runner who will represent the US in the men’s marathon, their presence at the Olympic Trials, their involvement in major marathons, as well as their involvement in the lightweight running shoe movement with the ASICS 33 collection.
EDN: Obviously a very exciting time for ASICS with the Olympics approaching. You have Ryan Hall representing your company in the men’s marathon in London. What does that mean for ASICS?
KW: “Ryan is amazing as a person. We have a marketing campaign called Stop at Never, and Ryan epitomizes Stop at Never as well as every single employee. We’re all trying to find ways to improve and innovate, and that’s exactly what Ryan does. To have him going to London as our representative is pretty darn exciting. He’s got the fastest time (in the marathon) as an American and it’s going to be a very competitive field as it always is, but he and his wife are both favorites of the company, and he is really what ASICS is all about.”
EDN: Nike has a huge presence at the Olympic Trials. What is ASICS doing to compete in that market here in Eugene this week?
KW: “We respect everything they do and everything they have done for this event and the university. We’re going to be doing a lot of things to, number one to let our athletes know that we’re here to support them and to be visible. We’re going to also be visible within the community. We have what we call the Stop at Never challenge. We have three activities, or challenges so to speak that we set up over at Sun Motors. So they can challenge themselves through these activities of long jump, a reflex machine and other things like that. Anybody who enters gets ice cream at Prince Puckler’s. We have three winners each day who go into a raffle where they win a complete trip to the New York City Marathon or the Los Angeles Marathon. We have some fun things going on at the Original Pancake House. We have the whole thing wallpapered. Free coffee, and just things that we do that are visible, fun, and say thank you to our consumers. We’ll just do it in our own way and have some fun with it.”
EDN: ASICS is extremely involved in the New York City Marathon. Will ASICS be looking to sponsor more major marathons?
KW: “We’re involved in probably 100 marathons across the country in some way. We stepped up in a significant way with the Pittsburgh Marathon and the New York City Marathon. The Los Angeles Marathon we just picked up in a significant way and I’m not sure we’ll add even more events, but we just want to get even more innovative in the events that we have. We want to really elevate and innovate. We’re doing things that haven’t been done before, and that’s what really excites us.”
EDN: The minimalist shoe movement has been popular in the running community. What is ASICS doing to become involved in that movement?
KW: “Anybody who has known ASICS and our heritage and the epicenter of who we are is product. We do well at marketing and other areas of business but product design development is who we are. The who minimal thing, we call it lightweight. We’ve had it for a long time. 33 is a collection where we have a lot of performance built into lightweight products. Whether it be stability, cushioning, or motion control, we’ve built technology into our 33 collection. We’re launching something with our new campaign called the Gel-Lyte. That has its own properties, a lot of color, a lot of fun in the uppers. We feel it’s a space we’re good at, we’ve been involved, but we’ve dedicated additional styles, focus and effort to meet consumer demand. It’s pretty exciting but something that came natural to us because we’ve had lightweight running product for quite a long time.”
Stay tuned for our Q&A session with ASICS athlete Deena Kastor, the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist for the United States in the marathon.