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Clutch Shot: A Moment with Salming's Thomas Nord

Travel to various sports communities worldwide, utter the word “Salming”, and you’re likely to see ears prick up. Whether you’re speaking about the legendary hockey player Börje or the sporting gear company that carries his surname, the general consensus will most likely be synonymous with a single word: awesome.

It’s no wonder then that Salming and Clutch Sports’ -- their North American distributor -- expansion into U.S. markets has been received so swimmingly. High quality products and aggressive marketing campaigns are typically accompanied by success, but it’s the people behind the gear who really help Salming realize their business potential.

We managed to catch up with Thomas Nord, Head of Salming’s Marketing and Design department, to ask him a few questions via email about the company, his design process, and how Salming plans on taking the U.S. by storm:

First of all, How long have you been with Salming?

TN - “Going on 14 years.”

How did you get into the business of Salming and designing sports gear?

TN – “I was working as a consultant and, initially, Salming was a customer. My role [back then] was a mix of Concept Developer, Designer and Art Director. My background, at the time, was in the advertising business working with, among other things, sports retail and in-house brand development. One thing led to another, I got an offer I couldn’t refuse and here I am.”

Walk us through your creative process: you’re tasked with creating a new--let’s say, running shoe. What are the steps from initial concept to the final product?

TN – “Well, that’s a trading secret ;-)

Let’s put it this way – at Salming Running we start with the concept of Salming Running Wheel™ – One Hub – Five Spokes, [then] we focus on Running Form and a Holistic View on Running, what we refer to as - Full Body Running™.

“The design and construction of our shoes can be derived from the natural running technique and the biomechanical laws that govern how humans move when running.

“Then we apply The Rule of 5™ – the shoes should be; Light, Flexible, Flat, Thin and Comfortable as framework for our design and development process.”

(For more info on that visit: http://www.salmingrunning.com/salming-runlab/full-body-running.aspx)

Do you have a favorite product you’ve designed?

TN – “Tough choice, the recognition we received from German Design Council (Special Mention) regarding the Salming Distance running shoe and in addition to that Best Debut in Runner’s World Magazine (SWE Sept Edt) makes it the choice right now I guess.”

In your opinion, what is Salming most known for?

TN – “Depends on which product segment you refer to, in running we are just starting out, this is our first season so I cannot say that we are most known for anything really, so far, other than being a contender and new kid on the running block. Over time I hope that the holistic view on running and the focus on Running Form in combination with the design and construction of the shoes will get the recognition it deserves.

“If we take another example, Salming Squash, in which we also are a quite new phenomena, we are seen as the new hot commodity with expressive designs and colors in what historically has been a very traditional sport with basic neutral colors. The common thread though, I hope, is good design based in a well thought through concept.”

How do you see Salming growing its brand in the U.S.?

TN – “Through our partners and colleagues at Salming USA Inc (Running) and Clutch Sports Co (Squash and Floorball). Other than that, stay true to our brand values and background that, besides the products, sets us apart from the competition, no matter which product area or sport.”

Are there plans to open any Salming stores in the U.S., or will Salming products be strictly sold online?

TN – “Let’s see what the future brings.”

Salming has managed to acquire a number of well-known brand ambassadors such as Ida Salonen, Jonas Colting, and Amr Shabana. How has this affected your approach to designing products?

TN – “The input from athletes and our ambassadors in particular is pivotal. It hasn’t affected the design process in itself, rather being a very important part of it.”

How do you feel about squash’s chances of getting an Olympic bid?

TN – “Oh, that’s a tough one, Squash did a magnificent job last time around, the campaign was impressive. Still, looking back at the competition and how it turned out, I guess it was never even close.”

Finally, where do you see Salming in five years?

TN – “Doing the same thing we do now -- with the same passion -- having succeeded with our goals of the last five years and subsequently set up some new ones as well.”