Industry Q&A: Keith Perera on the new Covert LT and ST
A while back Keith Perera took some time to chat with us about his job with Warrior and a few cool features of their stick line. With the new Covert ST and LT in stores now, Keith took a few more minutes to give an inside look at what makes these two new sticks so fantastic.
GS: Tell us about the new sticks, what remains the same from last year’s Covert line and what has been added?
KP: The Covert is all about speed and quick release. So we set out to make our sticks lighter, load easier and kick back stronger – improving on an already successful line.
Our new product has the “LT” designation for a reason. We wanted to make each stick the lightest we could possibly make it without sacrificing durability, and in some cases, making them more durable.
We have also added a “ST” model stick at the very high-end DT1 model to give Stronger players low kick with added twist resistance which then helps accuracy.
GS: The Covert was a very popular model last year – particularly with the various price point models. What do you think made the entire line so popular with players?
KP: Covert had a very distinct feel and kick. When a player got to try the product, they immediately felt the Dagger Taper load and release the puck with ease and speed. Covert also featured our newest blade designed with durability and weight in mind. We now have the lowest return rate in our history and it’s all due to those new blade features. They are lighter and stronger.
GS: How do you think the new features will add to the Covert’s popularity?
KP: Making the product lighter and increasing the recoil will really get more players to notice the Covert line. The biggest thing for us is weight – players we poll always tell us they want the stick to feel light and swing light. The very next thing they say is they don’t want the stick to break. It’s has always been a hockey paradox in the past (Light & Durable), but with some of our new strategic R&D partners in the Aerospace and Defense fields, it has become a reality.
GS: I know you don’t work with pros too often but did you get an idea of positive feedback those guys were giving on the Covert line last year?
KP: Great question, our momentum is really turning here. This off-season was our best ever! Players were hearing more from other players that our sticks were not breaking and were performing incredibly well. That R&D partner also allowed us to produce our lightest pro stick and it was really durable. Players were amazed! We added 30 new players to our stable and it was purely based on product. We did sign some big new names (Pacioretty, Clarkson) but we would have never had a chance with those guys if our product was not good. Money is fine, but product is KING
GS: How much of that feedback, if any, went into the design of the LT and ST models?
KP: Features like HiFusedST and new blade construction did come from needs from PRO. Pros bring very acute problems to our engineering team. Requests like “Make the stiffest blade ever” to the challenge of “keeping Chara’s blade from opening up” are things they get all the time from our players or our reps in the dressing rooms trying to dial-in a player’s spec. Sometimes these trickle down to our retail product (ex. TwinSpar, StrongArm, HiFusedST), but some features don’t. There aren’t that many “Charas” out there…imagine?!
GS: Should we expect to see a lot of NHLers using these models this season?
KP: You will see some major additions to our player stable. We’ve added players all over the league. Abdelkader, Franzen, Iginla are just to name a few. The other thing you’ll notice is that most of our players will be using our LT or ST graphic. This will also make the impression of our players larger since they are using one of 3 graphics available. In the past, we would have up to 5 graphics available to our pros and it really diluted our product presence in the NHL.
GS: When was the decision made to offer two different models (ST and LT) for this year?
KP: The decision was a tough one but came out of utility. We were finding our AAA testers loving the LT quick release Dagger construction but they were complaining that it was too “whippy or active” down low. We got that from pros too and we tested the HiFusedST construction with the same AAA players and they loved the quick release + Accuracy. We found that some players did not need all the Dagger Taper extra flex since they generated enough power and force themselves. What those stronger players needed was added twist resistance. That’s exactly what HiFusedST does, since the fuse point of the stick is near the player’s lower hand. It resists twist, thus giving the player low kick with more accuracy. Many players told us it felt like the old Easton SE16, which was very popular with better players a few years ago.
GS: Can you talk about a few more benefits of the LT?
KP: LT is all about making our sticks LighT. Since we were building “smarter sticks” (better engineered, more durable) we found new ways to pull excess weight out without affecting durability. It was an amazing discovery. Our lower priced models are incredibly light for the price. As a quick example, our $99 DT4LT weighed 40g lighter than a major competitors’ $110 stick… and is lighter than everyone’s $99 stick, by quite a bit.
GS: Can you give a more detailed breakdown of the Dagger technology and specifically the upgrades made with the Dagger T2?
KP: Dagger Taper is a wonderfully simple and effective technology for a hockey stick. The stick tapers to a point down very low in the stick and, in turn, that’s where the stick flexes. Pretty simple. This simple notion has resonated with players and they are feeling the benefits of this super low kick point. With this new line, we wanted to improve on the RECOIL of Dagger. Dagger loads and flexes very easily, but we wanted it to recoil back and return energy back to the puck. So we placed Uni-Directional fibers in the taper to help promote that kick-back effect. We also extended the internal structures from our blades into the taper area to help provide a more “connected” feel for the blade and taper to work together. Those two enhancements helped push Dagger Taper to the next level.
GS: A number of NHLers were using custom colored Coverts throughout the year last season. Is there an opportunity that various colors will be made available to the public with the new models or even the former Covert line?
KP: We are playing with the idea of offering these “Pro Graphic” build ability on our customizer, but nothing has been finalized as yet. Sorry!
GS: Should we expect to see a similar evolution to the Dynasty AX1 line? If so, can you provide any hints?
KP: I can’t speak to the Dynasty line as yet, but I can in a couple months. We just presented all the info on the new line to our sales force and after all our dealers have had a chance to see it and write orders for it we can talk about it.
GS: The Covert gloves were finally released and feel phenomenal (I’m a fan of a more snug fit glove). What has the reaction been to them – both from pros and amatuers?
KP: I’m not really close to our glove product (Chris J is our PM for protective) but from 3rd hand I know that people love the feel of them. I’m also a fan of the Covert…
GS: Last time you couldn’t offer much in terms of what we can expect next from Warrior. Are you able to offer any hints as to what we may see in the coming months?
KP: I wish I could, but I can’t get in to too much detail. All I can say is – 2014 is going to blow the doors off. We consciously took a step back 2yrs ago, refocused, reorganized and made our product better performing with durability. Now it’s time for us to really fly our brand flag…and if you saw how we did it when we started, you get the idea. So I’ll leave it at that.