SD Voyager: David Newman of Rx Smart Gear
Today we’d like to introduce you to David Newman.
Thanks for sharing your story with us David. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was a real estate broker for 15 years. After the market crashed and the smoke cleared we found ourselves regrouping after a bankruptcy. We were able to save our home and our 2 cars and started all over. A buddy knew I was a little depressed and needed a distraction so he dragged me kicking and screaming into CrossFit East County. At first, I hated every minute of it. But then I found myself feeling good about getting back in shape. It was a wonderful distraction. And confidence booster. So, I threw myself head first into CrossFit.
CrossFit utilizes jump rope quite a bit in their regular workouts. The common movement performed with a jump rope is called a double under. That’s making the rope pass under your feet twice on every jump. I was horribly uncoordinated and inconsistent at that movement. To the point of frustration. After purchasing a multitude of jump ropes and researching as much as I could online I found myself still horribly at them.
That’s when I decided to utilize my movement analysis skills acquired after years of coaching competitive gymnastics at San Diego State to really analyze the double under movement and the jump rope and break them down into their simplest parts to understand them better. Through this deconstruction phase, I discovered that someone with adequate skill and coordination at double unders could perform them with just about any jump rope.
However, someone new to the skill would benefit drastically by having a jump rope that was sized properly to their body to accommodate their height and have the right amount of weight in the cord to create a feeling of resistance which allows the beginner to time their jumps better. These were monumental breakthroughs and became the foundation for the Rx Jump Rope and the Rx Method jump rope teaching protocol.
So, my buddy and I started building these Frankenstein jump ropes in my garage and testing them out on all of our friends at the gym. People were immediately improving and breaking new personal records at double under all of the time. Next thing we knew we were getting requests for custom jump ropes. At first, we were just flattered and provided them with a friendly gesture. It had given me a sense of purpose after my failures in Real Estate. But then my wife saw our bank accounts and couldn’t figure out why I was spending what little money we had left at the sporting goods store and the hardware store.
So, she said if I wanted to keep making jump ropes for friends that I needed to at least start charging them for the materials. So, I did and unbeknownst to us at the time was the unofficial start of Rx Smart Gear. It slowly turned into a for-profit business out of our home where at the height of our early days we had 10 employees coming into our home to build jump ropes and ship them out. We eventually moved into a 7500 square foot facility and employ approximately 20 employees on average. We are the Official Jump rope for USA Boxing as well as USA Wrestling. We were the first Officially licensed jump rope for CrossFit.
Our product is used around the world by celebrities, fitness trainers, professional athletes and everyday fitness enthusiasts. We continue to develop new jump rope products as well as other niche fitness equipment. Although we love developing new products we realize that our true calling is providing solutions to everyday fitness problems. To try and create things that makes fitness more enjoyable and more accessible to the general population. Ultimately, we want to help people become the best version of themselves through our products.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Our initial growth was amazing. We saw exponential growth year after year for the first 5 years. Then the market became highly saturated with products from overseas and small mom and pop startups. Fortunately, we had a nice head start to put ourselves at the forefront of with regard to high-quality jump ropes, innovative designs and customer care second to none. We continue to push ourselves to lead the pack with new helpful products and unique design ideas never attempted before.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Rx Smart Gear – what should we know?
Personally, I am the CEO. My wife Susan is the COO. We run the company together. I am responsible for overall company direction as well as product development, strategic partnerships, and some marketing vision. My wife runs the day to day operation with all of the back-end administrative duties, human resources, all things that keep our overall machine operating smoothly. We have a general manager and operations manager that play big roles in assisting Susan and myself with all of the overall operations. Our staff is top notch. They are not only employees but they are a team and they are family. We pride ourselves on providing a fun, healthy and productive work environment for everyone here.
I believe what sets us apart from our competitors is that we make decisions based on whats best for our consumers over what’s best for our bank account. We’ve abandoned many projects over the years that we felt wasn’t original enough or useful enough to the consumer. If we keep that in mind I think we will always be on the right path.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
We have had a lot of help along the way. Starting with the owners of CrossFit East County Paul and Tina Flores. They allowed me to use their members as guinea pigs to establish our sizing calculations and our teaching methods. CrossFit East County were unofficially our product testers and our R&D department.
I credit my parents for being the most integral part of the company’s success when they lent me $1000.00 to place our first overseas bulk order of jump rope components. That allowed us to stock up on inventory and make our first big sales push. Timing was everything and without that loan, I doubt we would have taken off and gained the momentum that we did within the CrossFit community.
My wife and partner Susan was also a major contributing factor to the company’s success. Susan went back to work at San Diego State University Research Foundation after we hit financial bottom. She was the only consistent financial provider while I was doing real estate part time and exploring the world of jump rope manufacturing. She also had to give up her home to a group of employees when she left for work in the morning and came back to a mess in the evening. Once the company grew big enough to sustain us Susan resigned from SDSU and came onboard full time to help run the company. Were it not for her patience, understanding and hard work ethic I don’t believe our business would have stood a chance.
And then we’ve just been so fortunate to have an amazing team to work with. Joe Craig our Operations Manager has been with us since the beginning. He was my workout buddy when I first started making jump ropes in my garage. So he and I were our first test cases every day in the gym. He couldn’t come to work right away while he was finishing his obligation to the US Navy but once his term was up he came onboard full time. His dedication and commitment to the company have been irreplaceable.