What is one of the most valuable pieces of equipment that a beer league player often overlooks? I believe that is steel and not only the steel but its profile. Until about 10 years ago, most manufacturers had a 9 or 10 ft radius on steel out of the box and it was good to go. Now, most high-end steel comes a bit taller, still with a basic profile, but most players notice that the ends seem to be a bit “taller”. That is because it’s meant to be profiled. Tydan Blades is a great example of a company that is walking the average beer league player through the complexities of a product the player never had to think of before.
How Tydan Started
To say that Tydan knows steel is an understatement. Tyler and his dad Jim, have been around the steel industry for over 25 years. They started making steel blades for insulation in the construction industry. They got the idea to start making hockey skate blade steel as a side project.
Jim Ussleman, Tydan’s owner, got the idea to start making a better skate blade as a side project. He figured that with the steel he knew, he could make one that didn’t nick as easily and could stay sharper longer. However, after his first prototype, the tests didn’t go well. They rusted easier because it was more porous and held water (*). The experiment didn’t last long and they put the idea away for a few years.
After a few years of continuing in the fiberglass and insulation blade business, Tydan gave it another try, Easy removable blades were becoming quite popular with the new Bauer Edge holder and Tydan wanted to try to craft something different than the basic steel.
Development of the Tydan Blade
While continuing on the construction side of steel blades, Tydan still wanted to be a part of the hockey community in Dundas Ontario. So they purchased a Blademaster sharpening system and learned how to offer quality sharpenings. It was during this time, they noticed their customers starting to have quick-release holders.
With the growth of the Bauer Edge holder and the average player having access to quick-release steel, the rise of replacement steel began. Gone were the days of needing extra tools or that special Bauer tool to go in and remove steel. Giving players a super easy way to change out steel, made players want to have a backup set or sets of steel.
Through sharpening lots of pairs of skates each week, Tydan saw a need in the industry for quality long-lasting sets of steel for these new holders. They developed a new steel that improved on their first prototype. They also applied a Dimond-Like -Carbon coating to it to help maintain the edge and sharpness. This coating along with the better quality of steel made them a preferred choice for beer league and NHL players alike.
With the rise of aftermarket steel in the mid-2010s, Tydan became an industry leader with their steel. They at one time, had around 35% of NHL players using their steel. In addition to providing quality steel it was at this time that when you ordered Tydan steel, you also got a chance to get your skates profiled by Tyler. This, for a lot of beer league players, was the first time they ever got to have their skates profiled. Then it was a bonus for NHL players or the NHL equipment staff because they could trust Tyler to do the profile and didn’t have to spend the long time it takes to shape the steel. Aftermarket steel and profiling had now become a new it thing for everyone at all levels.
Tydan’s Present and Future
With the rise of aftermarket steel, the big skate manufacturers started getting their steel designs protected and thus ending smaller steel manufacturers to produce steel, without creating a unique design that differs from the patent.
Tydan didn’t want to get into a lawsuit but had been sharpening and profiling steel now for a few years. So they decided to stop making steel but remained sharpening and profiling. With this pivot in their business, they scaled up how many sharpenings and profiles they could do.
Tydan’s hockey business is now profiling and sharpening. They have since partnered with a new CNC technology called Skatescribe and can do any profile. Tydan educates its customers about the benefits and the need to profile their new steel. They also have created an AI-powered profile assessment. This can help you determine what profile, and steel you need to help get the most out of your game.
With each year that goes by, Tydan is continuing to gain market share in the profiling space. They’re on pace to do 40% of all NHL profiles by the 2023-2024 season, which is huge and is a great marketing advantage. In addition to that, having the Skatescribe and the AI assessment only helps too. With those tools, they are planning on having a series of videos and blogs to help educate every player and parent on the benefits of a profile and proper skate sharpening. It is safe to say that Tydan, with all of its knowledge and consumer education, will continue to dominate in the profiling and aftermarket sharpening space.
With the rise of quick-release holders, the one area most beer league players forget about is their steel and their extra sets. Now with Tydan, they are a great example of a company that is walking the average beer league player through the complexities of a product the player never had to think of before.
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