Sportsman turns love of outdoors into viable biz-A A +A
Saturday, January 5, 2013
AS EXTREME sports shops multiply and brands all but replicate each others’ product designs, a local manufacturer of sports gear believes simple but functional and well-crafted designs will be his edge.
For Noe Jabonero, who owns V12 Radgear, the idea began when he tried repairing his trusted pair of Mojo slippers way back 1997, when he was still a student of the College of Technological Sciences-Cebu and an applicant of SAAG, a Southwestern University mountaineering group.
Discovering he could stitch well, Jabonero started creating flip-flops for a local souvenir shop, Tropical Relic, and later on expanded to bags and cotton climbing shorts requested by his outdoorsy friends. Orders back then were based on magazines Jabonero showed to his peers.
Jabonero, now 35, says his shop focuses on workmanship, comfort, performance and versatility. He raised P20,000 to start the business. At 20, he was a one-man company, juggling design, manufacture and marketing duties in his mother’s kitchen in Labangon, Cebu City.
Having limited access to equipment, Jabonero recalls running to the nearest tailoring shop to use their machine for edging jobs. He eventually hired a tailor in 1998 but went solo again after he lost him.
The break came in 2000 when Habagat general manager Joselu Velasquez noticed Jabonero’s prototype shorts during a climb at the old Vertigo Climbing Center at Baseline Complex. This encounter led to a deal with Habagat to introduce V12 Radgear as a new brand for extreme sports. He delivered fewer than 20 pieces for the first batch, including the Dyno Pants and Tradnickers.
V12, named by Jabonero’s climbing buddy Anthony Quintanar after a grading system for climbing, produces apparel for mountaineering, downhill biking, surfing, skateboarding and longboarding, with materials from Taiwan and Korea supplied by providers in Manila.
V12 is not only exclusive to sports, but can also be used as casual wear. Its products cost from P760 for shorts to P1,190 for trekking pants, which are delivered to Habagat, Sandugo, Gaisano Malls and selected outdoor shops nationwide, on a cash or 30-day term basis.
Supply rates are P20,000 to P30,000 with a minimum of 20 pieces.
When the business boomed in 2008 to 2010, Jabonero said peak season was from September to December, but the sales slow down in the summer.
Sponsorship has become a medium to expose V12, especially to the outdoor and biking community. Currently, V12 is sponsoring three downhill riders to compete in the local and national scene.
For 2013, V12 will add to its current workforce of 22 employees, improve printing work, and build a physical shop. At present, V12 functions as a production in a rented place in Mambaling, Cebu City.
V12 will also try its hand in running apparel and search for export opportunities.
After more than a decade in the business, Jabonero said he realized that focusing on quality is a strategic technique to maintain this type of family business, where the main challenges include competition, limited finances and many Filipinos’ tendency to prefer imported over locally made products.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 05, 2013.