NHL Season, Though Delayed, Brings Sales to Michigan Small Business Respond, Inc., Makers of Skate Fenders Foot/Ankle Protectors

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The end of the NHL lockout has brought a wave of sales to family-owned small business Respond, Inc., makers of Skate Fenders, a patented safety product that protects the feet and ankles of hockey players. Recent orders have come from four NHL teams and the University of Minnesota, which has outfitted both its men’s and women’s ice hockey teams.

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A total of 23 NHL teams and their AHL affiliates have purchased Skate Fenders, as have a growing number of other professional, semi-professional and college hockey teams.

The message is getting out that with Skate Fenders, there’s finally an effective, affordable way for hockey players to protect themselves from debilitating foot and ankle injuries.

The end of the National Hockey League (NHL) lockout has brought a wave of sales to family-owned small business Respond, Inc., which makes Skate Fenders (http://www.skatefenders.com ), a patented safety product that protects the feet and ankles of hockey players.

Introduced in 2009, Skate Fenders – molded plastic devices that fit over the skate to prevent season- or even career-ending injuries – are rapidly gaining acceptance among amateur and professional hockey players, similar to the way downhill skiers and bicyclists have embraced the wearing of helmets. A total of 23 NHL teams and their American Hockey League affiliates have purchased Skate Fenders, as have a growing number of other professional, semi-professional and college hockey teams.

Sales were slow during the lockout, according to Frank McClelland, the amateur hockey player and retired schoolteacher who invented Skate Fenders, then founded Respond, Inc., to manufacture the product. “In the strike’s final week, though, we began getting inquiries, followed by orders from four NHL teams. The University of Minnesota, one of 25 colleges using Skate Fenders, outfitted both its men’s and women’s ice hockey teams during that same period,” he said.

The surge in sales has continued, confirming McClelland’s belief that the best way to market Skate Fenders -- which are designed for youth and adult players -- is for people to see the pros and college players use them. “With the NHL games back on, people seem to be more aware of foot and ankle safety issues, and what can be done to protect those vulnerable areas from high-speed pucks and slashing sticks,” he said.

As he has for the past three years, McClelland is taking the Skate Fenders message to professional hockey team coaches, trainers and equipment managers later this year when Respond, Inc., exhibits at the American Hockey Coaches Association Annual Convention May 1-6, and the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society/Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers Show June 14-26.

“The message is getting out that with Skate Fenders, there’s finally an effective, affordable way for hockey players to protect themselves from debilitating foot and ankle injuries,” said McClelland.

About Skate Fenders
Introduced in 2009, Skate Fenders is a breakthrough product that provides hockey players of all ages and skill levels with complete foot and ankle protection from high-speed pucks and slashing sticks. Skate Fenders are manufactured by Respond, Inc., a family-owned small business in Gaylord, Mich., founded by Frank McClelland, the amateur hockey player who invented Skate Fenders. Respond, Inc., developed the lightweight, easy on/easy off Skate Fenders in partnership with Lake Superior State University’s Product Development Center (http://www.lssu.edu/eng/pdc ). Available in two models and two sizes, starting at $69.95 per pair, Skate Fenders can be purchased online (http://www.skatefenders.com) and at hockey equipment retailers throughout North America and Europe.

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Cynthia Martin
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