HT Premier provides detailed customized option
Hydro-Turf’s partnerships with OEMs have landed the company’s traction mats and upholstery on a variety of watercraft, including PWC. Now, the Anaheim-based manufacturer continues to expand with the launch of its two-tone traction mats and HT Premier, a high-end line of stitched seat covers and mats for PWC. The company’s motorcycle product line, HT Moto, also continues to grow.
HT Premier is Hydro-Turf’s new line of high-end mats and seat covers.
“What really separates the two lines is what goes on under the surface,” company founder Arno Olbricht said. “HT Premier incorporates laminated foam and fabric backing that we stitch through. The seat covers not only look more finished and have more detail, but they’re also a stronger product. Because of the underlayment that we’re sewing through, it creates a more substantial product, and it shows in appearance and performance.”
In fact, when OEs come out with new seats, the company now develops separate patterns for both Hydro-Turf, which offers seats made from marine-grade vinyl, and HT Premier.
And while domestic growth has been on the positive side, HT Premier has shown signs of success overseas.
“It’s been accepted very well,” he said. “It’s definitely growing in popularity, with international distributors now carrying the line. HT Premier targets the higher-end customers. It’s a more expensive product, but certain customers are willing to outfit their craft with a mat or seat cover that has a more custom appearance.”
The stitched mats in the HT Premier line include Hydro-Turf foam as the core, with suede being laminated onto the surface. “So we’re stitching through that and putting the detailed trim on as well. Again, it adds a custom finish.”
Olbricht said demand from customers helped him make the decision to add the line.
“It’s a smaller market, and it certainly doesn’t come close to the volume of our grooved Hydro-Turf products, but we want to be able to offer our customers whatever they are looking for,” he said.
Hydro-Turf is coming off a 2011 fiscal year that saw “good growth, some of which I think was due to a resurgence in the market, and new markets,” Olbricht said. “Stand-up paddleboards and wake surfing came on strong for us, as did boat traction sheets for rear boating platforms.”
Olbricht envisions wake surf traction products to see steady growth. “We’ll be expanding that line and offering new color ways. We’ve grown with the stand-up paddle industry since it started about six years ago, and we’re the top supplier of domestic traction in that industry.”
Two-tone traction mats
The parent brand of the company, Hydro-Turf, isn’t ready to hand the keys over to the new addition to the family quite yet, however. Hydro-Turf’s growth is coming from 24 new two-tone mat options for PWC.
“We’ve been developing it for the last two years,” he said. “The initial launch was in 2010, but we’ve really refined it since.” Hydro-Turf guarantees that the product will not de-laminate. Grooved, diamond grooved and waffle patterns are available in all colors.
The mats feature a 3M-based self-adhesive application, so consumers no longer have to deal with contact cement or scuffing the skis. “Most of the mats we ship now include self-adhesive,” Olbricht said. “It’s a much cleaner, faster installation, and works great.”
Hydro-Turf and its brands are filling orders faster than ever, and implemented a second production shift by hiring an additional six employees in 2011. Most orders are now shipped within 48 hours. The company also stocks more of its solid black products in order to provide faster shipping.
“The second shift has allowed us to utilize the space we have, and it’s shortened our lead time,” Olbricht said. “It allows us to do all of our OEM production and get dealer orders out the door more quickly.”
The company has seen a rise in international sales over the past year, particularly in the PWC racing segment. “There are more international events and the events are growing in size, so our international dealers are reaching more consumers,” Olbricht said. He noted the countries of Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and Japan as bringing customers to the brands.
HT Moto expanding
The HT Moto brand involves all of the company’s non-marine related products, with sport bike seat covers and tank traction as the top sellers among the motorcycle racing and freestyle crowd. The company is seeing its distributors expand their HT Moto product line in many cases.
“Although sport bike seat covers are by far our biggest category, we are seeing growth among our ATV and scooter sales as well,” Olbricht said. Jason DiSalvo, Jason Britton and Bill Dixon are among some of the riders sponsored by the company.
For custom freestyle seats, consumers send their seats to HT Moto to be modified. The company replaces the majority of foam in the front and rear with denser Hydro-Turf foam, which provides the consumer with a glove-like fit after the new custom seat cover is stapled and secured into place. HT Moto also offers gel wraps and inserts.
“A combination of the carbon fiber look with another material that complements it and provides a nice contrast has been popular with our seat covers,” he said.