The Story of a trademark:ELAN

The story of Elan is full of exceptional innovations which over the years have dictated skiing techniques up to the point that anyone - a beginner or the best recreational skier - can enjoy in this beautiful sport. The prestigious title of the ‘Most Innovative Brand 2012’ presented to Elan by the German organisation Plus X Award proved that Elan’s achievements in design and innovation are truly great.

Ski jumper Rudi Finžgar became part of Slovenian skiing history in 1941 when he jumped 95 metres. He combined his experience and skiing enthusiasm with knowledge, ambition and vision and became the founding father of the Elan factory in 1945. He and some friends (mostly craftsmen and engineers) established the company Elan on 24 September 1945. In the same year, the results of their first manufacturing efforts were 800 pairs of light and durable wooden skis.

Three years later, Elan was already recognised as a producer and exporter of skis to the United State of America, and in 1948, the company was nationalised. The range of Elan products expanded in the 1950s and 1960s. In addition to skis, Elan also produced yachts, tennis and badminton rackets, table tennis equipment, ice picks, mountain rescue gear, competition and recreational sledges, ice skates and hockey sticks, oars and water skis.

 

 

Bojan Križaj and Ingemar Stenmark were great rivals, but also great friends. They both used Elan skis throughout their careers. Stenmark won 86 races in the Alpine Ski World Cup on Elan skis.

The 1970s were a key period for Elan. The company focused mainly on the production of skis. The brand shone in all its glory, thanks to the excellent Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark, who won numerous races in the Ski World Cup on supreme Elan skis. Ingemar Stenmark still has the most World Cup wins of all time (he won 86 times), and he won them all on Elan skis. In the following decade, Elan became one of the largest and most powerful ski producers in the world.

In 1992, two years after bankruptcy and other hardships, the company was purchased by Croatian Privredna banka Zagreb. In spite of difficult conditions, Elan continued to develop and explore new technological improvements and launch an innovation which created a true global revolution in the skiing industry: Elan launched carving skis. The new carving technique was revolutionary and has completely changed the development of skiing.

Elan also entered the snowboard market and developed innovative yachts. The company again found itself in trouble at the end of the 1990s, and was bought out by the Slovene Development Corporation in 2000.Repositioning of the trademark followed, with intensive investment in developing new products, the technological modernisation of production, restructuring the global distribution network and a new approach to marketing. Today, Elan employs 500 people in Begunje.

Elan’s divisions today

With its three divisions – winter, marine and sports facilities – Elan Group is the leading producer and supplier of sports and leisure time activity equipment. Skis and yachts are produced in Slovenia, snowboards in Austria, and motor boats in Croatia. Elan owns six companies that market its products in the USA, Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan, including independent distributors around the world.

When it comes to skis, Elan is a global brand. Its products sell in more than 50 countries. With sales of over 300,000 pairs of skis per year, the Elan trademark takes an average 8.5 per cent share of global markets. Elan also produces some other brands, which place it among the largest production capacities in the world. 550,000 – or every sixth pair of skis from the three million pairs sold worldwide – was made in Begunje. Germany, which is considered the largest and most demanding European market, accepted Elan as one of its leading trademarks. True technology, specialisation and enthusiasm are the foundation of the ski trademark, according to Elan.


The key markets which see the most intensive marketing activities are Central and Eastern Europe, Northern America, Japan and Scandinavia. Marketing activities focus on direct consumer experience and testing on snow.

With its products for all lovers of nautical adventure, Elan Marine is present in all important world markets, the most important being Slovenia, Italy, France, Spain and Croatia. According to market research by Yacht Magazine, Elan is the third most innovative and the thirteenth most recognisable brand in Europe out of 31 yacht makers. The values which Elan follows in its yacht production are comfort, manoeuvring characteristics, quality and safety.

In sports facilities division which was initially its main sales offer, Elan Inventa is the leading company in the Western Balkans, Scandinavia and Russia and is also entering other European markets. So far, Elan Inventa has equipped over 2,500 sports facilities and outdoor sports grounds. It generates over 70 per cent of its turnover in foreign markets.

Elan logos between 1945 and 1995.

Innovations are the only way

The development of the Elan trademark is based on innovations, which holds for all divisions. The development of constructions and ski design has been a feature of Elan since 1963, when the first development institute was established and two patents introduced to the market only two years later. Because each innovation triggers the need for another, Elan has been exciting and surprising its customers throughout its history. After launching carving skis, it amazed with its development of the Fusion integrated ski binding system, which ensured a combination of the best flexibility of the ski and weight distribution. Later, better flexibility and the torsional stability of the ski were combined in the WaveFlex technology. Elan has now taken on a new challenge and is already conquering the world with the new Amphibio technology.

The latest innovation: Amphibio skis

Elan Ambhibio skis, the latest Elan innovation, were designed in cooperation with Porsche Design Studio.

As the leading producer of skis, Elan has succeeded in combining camber and rocker profiles in one ski with Amphibio technology: the outside edge of the ski has a camber profile and features full edge contact for perfect edge grip, while the inside edge of the ski has a rocker profile, which enables control and easy turning.


Amphibio technology thus determines which ski is left and which right. Elan was the first company in the world to develop this technology, which skiers can use to optimise the characteristics of the outside and inside ski edge at each turn. By way of comparison: if you were driving a Formula 1 car, you would not have to worry about losing control at any point.

Cooperation with top industrial designers


Elan has always dedicated special attention to design. When designing Amphibio, Elan decided to cooperate with the renowned Porsche Design Studio, which added its visual touch to these revolutionary skis and hence highlighted the technological, aesthetic and functional advantages of this innovative product.


The marine division of Elan regularly cooperates with Humphreys Yacht Design, and the winter division with the Slovenian design agency Gigodesign; Oskar Kogoj participated in the design of the MBX skis several years ago. Elan emphasises that the key to its success in the field of development and innovation lies in the fact that design and development are closely connected even when a new product is first being developed, and that its achievements which are reflected in innovations are the result of combining rich experience and multidisciplinary specialist knowledge.

The Most Innovative Brand 2012 and other awards


For its achievements in design and innovations, Elan has received numerous prestigious international awards for design, innovation, quality and functionality.


All the awards were related to certain products, but last year Elan received the title of the ‘Most Innovative Brand 2012 in the sports equipment category’, the first Slovenian company to win the award. This is the highest award presented annually by the German organisation Plus X Award. Brands which receive such titles are the most innovative in individual categories and are distinguished by outstanding achievements in the fields where the brands are present and evolving. The brands do not apply for the award, but are nominated for their achievements and the awards their products have garnered. Elan thus shared the podium with some other most innovative global brands such as Adidas, Mercedes, AEG, Blackberry, Buderus, LG, Opel and Sony, which received awards in other categories.

Elan in the future


And what can we expect from Elan in the future? Luka Grilc, Elan Brand and Product Director, says: “Our vision is to become number one in innovation and the design of technical sports equipment, and we will do everything in our power to achieve this objective. By doing so, we do not want to become the biggest, but the best in the field. Innovations will play a key role in the future. The open process of innovation, which includes many external partners, and naturally the unselfish and talented in-house team are guarantees that Elan will be raising expectations in the future as well.”

Text by Polona Prešeren

Cooperation with top industrial designers

Elan has always dedicated special attention to design. When designing Amphibio, Elan decided to cooperate with the renowned Porsche Design Studio, which added its visual touch to these revolutionary skis and hence highlighted the technological, aesthetic and functional advantages of this innovative product.

The marine division of Elan regularly cooperates with Humphreys Yacht Design, and the winter division with the Slovenian design agency Gigodesign; Oskar Kogoj participated in the design of the MBX skis several years ago. Elan emphasises that the key to its success in the field of development and innovation lies in the fact that design and development are closely connected even when a new product is first being developed, and that its achievements which are reflected in innovations are the result of combining rich experience and multidisciplinary specialist knowledge.

The Most Innovative Brand 2012 and other awards

For its achievements in design and innovations, Elan has received numerous prestigious international awards for design, innovation, quality and functionality.

All the awards were related to certain products, but last year Elan received the title of the ‘Most Innovative Brand 2012 in the sports equipment category’, the first Slovenian company to win the award. This is the highest award presented annually by the German organisation Plus X Award. Brands which receive such titles are the most innovative in individual categories and are distinguished by outstanding achievements in the fields where the brands are present and evolving. The brands do not apply for the award, but are nominated for their achievements and the awards their products have garnered. Elan thus shared the podium with some other most innovative global brands such as Adidas, Mercedes, AEG, Blackberry, Buderus, LG, Opel and Sony, which received awards in other categories.

Elan in the future

And what can we expect from Elan in the future? Luka Grilc, Elan Brand and Product Director, says: “Our vision is to become number one in innovation and the design of technical sports equipment, and we will do everything in our power to achieve this objective. By doing so, we do not want to become the biggest, but the best in the field. Innovations will play a key role in the future. The open process of innovation, which includes many external partners, and naturally the unselfish and talented in-house team are guarantees that Elan will be raising expectations in the future as well.”

Text by Polona Prešeren