Industry Profile: Bill Everett
Industry Profile: Bill Everett
Founder, Avision Ahead Hockey Shields
For Bill Everett, it took a puck to the head during a game back in prep school to get him thinking about how to create a safer, more efficient hockey shield. Mission accomplished, as almost 40 years later Everett, the founder of Denver-based Avision Ahead, has become a leader in the field with no signs of slowing down.
Colorado Rubber: Tell us a little about your hockey background.
Bill Everett: I grew up in Natick, Mass., which is just outside of Boston, and played at Boston College in the early 1970s. Prior to that, I played at Mount Saint Charles Academy in Rhode Island and New Prep School in Cambridge, Mass.
CR: How did you get involved in the hockey shield business?
BE: During a game while I was at New Prep, I dove to block a slap shot and was struck by the puck on the side of the helmet and suffered a fractured skull resulting in two operations and a plate inserted in the side of my skull. That’s when my interest in developing better products to prevent head and facial injuries relating to hockey began.
CR: How has your company, Avision Ahead, evolved?
BE: After a long career in telecommunications, I kept tabs on the hockey mask business and realized the initial designs I created in the ‘70s still hadn’t been beaten by anyone. I had a design in mind that would eclipse all masks, including wire cages or grilles, and change the view of hockey for the better. In my opinion, the cage is the worst thing that ever happened to hockey; it delays your reaction, is poor in terms of vision and dangerous.
CR: Tell us a bit about your product line and what makes it so unique?
BE: On all of our masks, which come in 10 colors, the dual-coated lenses are 100 percent fog-free and scratch-resistant on both sides; no other manufacturer has that level of coating. The cage frame weighs just 4.5 ounces, and they’re fully assembled with all the hardware, chin cup, straps, snaps, J-clips and mounting screws. We also offer a “100-percent Love It” 30-day guarantee.
CR: Tell us about your new visor that’s set to debut this month.
BE: We’re coming out with our Elite mask, which is available in a black or clear frame with more color options on the horizon in the coming months. It’s a polycarbonate cage and its aim-injection molded polycarbonate high optics lens is 100 percent fog-free inside and hard-coated outside, with a straight pro-style lower edge for distortion-free vision at your feet. It was designed with the help of University of Denver players who also played in the United States Hockey League and junior in Canada and wanted to replicate their half-shield visors with the lower facial protection required for NCAA Division I hockey.
CR: Is there motto Avision Ahead lives by?
BE: Yes, it’s to treat our customers like they’re part of our organization and listen carefully to what they say, then design our products for quality, value and longevity. Our products are crystal clear and tough as nails. If I lost a race on the ice at Mount Saint Charles or in prep school, I’d work out on the bike or run for hours; I hated to lose a game, and I hate to lose in business, too.
CR: What’s the future hold for the company?
BE: We have loyal customers around the world. We’re now in 120 stores, including all the major retail shops. We have an online business for players in other countries who buy our products, and our line is growing and evolving with new molds, lenses and coatings. We’re planning to launch a line of ski goggles, sun/sport glasses and lacrosse masks, too; lacrosse suffers from lousy wire cages just like hockey, and we’re going to change that.
CR: What else keeps you busy when you’re not thinking hockey shields?
BE: I have four daughters and a son. We love to ski, golf and fly fish, among other things.
For more information on Avision Ahead, visit HockeyFaceShields.com.