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Tri’ing Is Good For Tech & Business: pt 2


Published August 20, 2009

By Mae Lee Sun
TNAZ Regional Correspondent

Tom Manzi

Training Bible coach, Tom Manzi, of Tubac & New Jersey, conducts an open water swim clinic for Tucson TriGirls triathlon club, at Lake Patagonia.
Credit: Mae Lee Sun
Debbie Claggett, vice president and co-owner of TriSports, a superstore for triathlon equipment in South Tucson, has seen a growing number of triathletes at her retail and on-line stores.
“Our revenues have grown by over 400 percent over the last five years,” she says.
Claggett also looks at the athletes TriSports sponsors as ambassadors of her company. “They’re located all over the world, so it’s a good way to mass advertise,” she says.
Teams or clubs requesting that TriSports become their official store receive discounts. They don’t have to be Tucson-based, although based within Arizona. Triathlon clubs Claggett’s store sponsors include UA Tricats, Tucson Triathlon Club, Tucson Trigirls Club, Tri Scottsdale, Phoenix Tri Club and Pay & Take Tri Club in Flagstaff.
Additionally, one of the biggest triathlons in Arizona, Deuces Wild Triathlon Festival in Show Low, Arizona, is sponsored by the Claggetts’ non-profit company, TriSports Racing. All proceeds go to charity and TriSports donates the people power to host the event where vendors are invited to set up booths with product.
The store itself offers a variety of services like fitting cyclists to their new or existing bike, body mapping and power testing. For runners, they employ the use of treadmills and advanced software to do run strike analysis and send people home with a DVD and ‘tons of information to become a better runner’.
Swimmers have the same advantage if they take a dunk in the in-store endless pool with underwater cameras to provide stroke analysis. Classes are scheduled throughout the year for all three sports and pro athletes like Floyd Landis and Team Ouch, his cycling team, have conducted presentations at the store. They market their apparel here, as well.
Although not sponsored by TriSports, trainers have capitalized on the popularity of triathlon in Tucson, coaching triathletes who come here for the Training Bible [TB] triathlon camp, the one Ian Andes attended this year with his brother.
Floyd Landis

Floyd Landis, (seated far left) and his cycling team, Team Ouch, visited TriSports.com earlier this year to market the team products the store carries.
Credit: Mae Lee Sun
The camp was started by Joe Friel, of Scottsdale, AZ, an elite level trainer and author of the Training Bible series for endurance athletes, and Adam Zucco, an elite level trainer and triathlete based in Chicago. The TB camps have generated clients for TB affiliated coaches Jim Vance and Tom Manzi, certified TB coaches, who were at the TB camp in Tucson. Vance, at age 32, races professionally in addition to coaching, making a workable income between the two.
“If you’re good enough at anything, you can find a way to make money at it,” Vance says. “However, in the sport of triathlon, there is only a very small fraction of athletes who make a real living at the sport,” he adds. “It’s a business for sure, and if you’re not winning major races, then you get very little. You have to be the biggest fish in the biggest pond you can find in order to get any sponsorships of substance,” Vance says about the competition in the field. He also notes that the sport is very expensive, so even some equipment sponsorships can be very beneficial.
According to Brian Stevens of Clif Bar and Company, triathletes like Vance make the sport “a sponsors dream.” Clif Bar, maker of the popular organic energy bars and sports nutritional products, have representatives travelling the country for sponsorship events from the company’s base, in Berkeley, California. They continue to be a key vendor and sponsor for Perimeter Bicycling Association of America events, including El Tour de Tucson and El Tour de Phoenix.
“It’s been part of our business model to channel efforts toward athletic sponsorships and field marketing,” says Clif Bar’s Stevens.
“We sponsor a ton of events and individual marketing including Tom Manzi, Chris McCormick from Australia who won Ironman Kona, Team Garmin-Slipstream in the Tour de France and American Christian Vandevelde who is on the team, and professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones. We have all different levels- it’s not just about the podium,” says Stevens.” He notes that in return for sponsorships, the athletes receive money at the elite level, and both elite and amateur athletes receive product and wear apparel with the Clif logo.
The net result of ClifBar’s efforts in creating sponsorships and new product introduction is that the company continues to experience double-digit growth even through this economy. Although he would not disclose any financials since the company is privately held, but Steven’s did say that bigger entities have offered to buy out Clif and Clif has turned them down.
Clif Bar’s reach has made it beyond the sports nutrition sector and they are now being carried in major grocery and retail chains like Target and Whole Foods. According to Stevens, the company is focused on research and development to expand their already solid product line of Clif Bars, Clif Shots, Luna Bars, Clif Blocks and Clif Kid snacks. A new recovery drink is slated for the shelves sometime before Summer’s end.
Tom Manzi, who spends his time between the New Jersey shore and Tubac, Arizona, has been sponsored by Clif for several years. Whenever he takes on a new training client, they also reap the benefits by receiving samples of Clif product. Manzi has a list of regular clients nationwide, thirty-five percent of whom are women. Client’s progress is tracked on line through the Training Bible website which has a software program in which to upload data from various training and monitoring devices. Coaches log on to post schedules and make adjustments to each athlete’s individual training plan.
Tom Manzi

Nutritional performance products like XOOD and Clif are continually tested in the field by competitive triathletes like Tom Manzi (smiling), sponsored by both companies.
Credit: Mae Lee Sun
“I have a mix of first timers and people who are competitive professionals,” says Manzi. “It definitely attracts Type-A’s. The training is intense and scientific because we track everything with technology like heart rate monitors, power meters and so forth but it’s not rocket science. It’s more of an investment,” he concludes.
As the sport continues to grow, so does the demand. Raena Issacson, a runner and founder of Raena Fitness (bootcamps, running and fitness coaching) in Tucson, says she saw the need to create an affordable way for people, including triathletes, to stay fit. Like Manzi, she now coaches a range of clients, many of whom are from the triathlon community.
“I noticed a lot of beginners and that’s where my heart is,” says Issacson. “I do expect to continue to grow. There are many more people to reach out to, “she adds.
“Many of my clients are low to medium income, restaurant servers, law assistants, bankers and Raytheon employees. I limit my class size to 15-20 clients to be sure I can give my clients enough individual attention,” she adds.
Andes, who has the support but not sponsorship of G-technology, says his company benefits regardless since someone committed to triathlon will make a better employee, will have better organizational skills and if they are up to something as grueling as an Ironman, then they better able to manage their work lives, as well.
“In reality, there’s only 24 hours a day,” Andes notes. “When you’re in tri, you can’t find more so you schedule your day and make sure everything fits together efficiently. You have an exact time allotment of when to hit the pool, ride. You don’t skip a meeting with the president of the company, so you’re not going to skip a meeting with the pool or your bike,” he concludes.
Editors Note: Andes went from a six hour and forty minute half-Ironman to a five hour, seven minute half-Ironman at Vineman this year, not a full- Ironman reported in part 1 of this story.
For more information:
Trisports: www.trisports.com
AZTriClub: www.aztriclub.com
Tucson Triathlon Club: www.tucsondesertheat.org
Tucson TriGirls: www.tucsontrigirls.org
UA TriCats: www.arizonatricats.com
Tri Scottsdale: www.triscottsdale.org
Phoenix Triathlon Club: www.phoenixtriathlonclub.org
Raena Fitness: www.raenafitness.com
Training Bible Coaching: www.trainingbible.com


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Written by maeleesun


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