Flux Yeah! Global Marketing With Flux Bindings’ Ray Takahashi


Ray Takahashi
Ray Takahashi

Over the last eighteen years, Flux Bindings has established itself as a cutting edge player in the binding market through trend setting looks and technologies with sell-through that independent retailers rave about. In the past year, Flux has made a major push to upgrade its team, product, and global marketing strategy and we recently had a chance to sit down with Division Manager Ray Takahashi to see how the Japan-based company's strategies are paying off around the globe as we move in to a new decade.

You guys signed some serious heavy hitters last year and have the majority of the YES. team on board. What impact has this had for you as far as reach and recognition?

That has been one of the first compliments I get when I say I am with Flux. Having guys like JP and Romain on our team has proved that our bindings are built to perform better. The YES. guys are constantly in touch with a lot of shops for their business and that has helped us also.

Has having Romain and J.P. on the team helped for European distribution?

Yeah for sure! We even trade distributor info. We communicate a lot on the business side of things . Our current Norway guy was introduced through JP Solberg. And I give them info on our guys too. I think we share  three or four distributors. The European business was down for prebooks but I have had so many inquries and reorders which hasn't happened so much in the past.

How has the Japanese market been affected by the recession this season?

The recession has caused the consumer to buy lower priced stuff there too.

Have the currency exchange rates been helping or hurting you here in the States?

Due to the exchange rate, a lot of gray market guys are buying product here and selling it to Japan. Which is hurting the whole market in Japan. Last season's over produced stock from the U.S. are sold in Japan for dirt cheap. It's not so much of our stuff, but others.

How do you see things shaking out over there?

I think it really depends on all of the companies' production volume. If companies over produce  and there are a good volume of closeouts here in the states and the exchange rate stays the same…. The distributors in Japan will suffer…. As for Flux, we have a good plan to control our inventory and to create more demand and hype in Japan too.

The Flux crew on the roof of their Tokyo HQ.
The Flux crew on the roof of their Tokyo HQ.

Since the rocker revolution, or more aptly since the recession caused hardgood sales to suffer and become commodities, it's been all about technologies that are easy to display. You guys have been on the urethane tip for the last couple years – how are you marketing this technology?

The urethane highback compliments the rocker revolution for hardcore freestyle riders. Our urethane highbacks have good heelside support but still give you the free movement so that you can tweak out your style. I see others trying urethane but they just don't have the heelside support that you got to have.

Is there a good way for retailers to easily demonstrate that and how do these work with reverse camber boards?

The retailers and their customers can easily see that by taking the bindings and flexing it. As a brand we pride ourselves on our quality and performance, that being said it has been tested for a long time before it was put out on the market.

The top of the line models, DMCC, SF45, DS45 and the SR15 share the same baseplate but with different material mix and construction. On this base plate, there are urethane base dampeners that go on both sides of the bindings. Those dampeners allow the boards to flex more along the lines of what the reverse camber is designed to do. They come with two different hardness dampeners. You put the harder ones on the outside, softer ones on the inside to work with the rocker shape.

What's the average price differential between the urethane and non-urethane models and have the urethane models been much more successful than the non?

Ten bucks is the price difference between the Titan, with a nylon highback, and the Titan RK  with urethane. The Titan RK, which is the RK30, next year was the first model to sell out this year and I am still getting calls asking for this model.

As other companies start to embrace this material, do you see this as a threat or a validation of what you've been doing?

I see it as a validation and we feel honored! It's not really a threat as we are probably four years ahead on R&D.

TransWorld's Anthony Manfredi had a chance to catch up with the Flux team for some product testing at Bear recently. Here's the lowdown and photos from the mission:
I dropped in to see the boys at Flux last week and they had just gotten they're catalogs back from the printer. As I was flipping through the catalog I said to Ray "hey, let me know if you need somebody to test these for you." I was half kidding of course but, he answered back "alright, how about next week?" It seems there test samples were arriving later that day. I love this stuff, so I told him I was in. Ray and Pat assembled a team of Media (Me), Retailer (Jules from Surfside), and Industry Peers (Dan and Nam of Elm Co).