Builds family business of growing sports
Alexander Eliassen and his brother Christoffer showing some of their printed frisbees that are making a real impact in the popular sport of disc golf
For some, disc golf, also known as frisbee golf is a fun pastime. For others it is now a serious competitive sport. And for the Eliassen family in the Norwegian town of Hokksund, it has led to a rapidly growing family business.
A growing sport
Most of us have thrown a frisbee at some time in our lives. Playing with a few friends in the park, with the children or with the dogs. What you may not know is that disc golf is now a rapidly growing competitive sport. In Norway alone, there are already 85 active clubs affiliated to the Norwegian Sports Confederation. For the Eliassen family in Hokksund, disc golf has been their chosen family sport for many years. Now, they have taken this passion a step further by setting up their own family business Alfa Discs Sport AS.
A family team
The production facility and shop are run by the three brothers Christoffer, Alexander and Benjamin Eliassen, together with Reidar Finnerud, and with support from the brothers’ father, Jan Runar Eliassen. “It’s very exciting and educational running a company in which we also have such a strong personal commitment to the products and the sport,” says managing director, Alexander Eliassen. “We’re also proud to have started up the first Norwegian-produced frisbee operation ever.” The company’s frisbee is a so-called midrange disc. This means it is suitable for both beginners and experienced players. And it is great for backhand as well as forehand throws. “We’ve called it ‘Apollo’. You can’t throw it all the way to the moon,” says Christoffer with a smile. “But it is a name that our American customers like.”
The Canon Arizona flatbed printer prints directly onto the frisbee
The right printer for the task
“Disc golf is played on both park and forest courses, usually 9, 15 or 18 ‘holes’,” Alexander explains. “And in the same way that a golfer uses different clubs for different strokes, a disc golfer uses different frisbees for different throws.” Alfa Discs sells a large range of frisbees, and currently produces the Apollo disc themselves. The casting is carried out by a plastics company, and then Alfa Discs prints the discs on an Arizona flatbed printer from Canon. The Arizona printer is able to print high-quality and robust images on all types of objects up to 5 centimetres thick, and is therefore ideally suited to this task.
Alexander: “We’re working with Jarle Mikkelsen from Canon, to design a jig so that we can place each frisbee on the printer easily. This will help us increase production capacity. Our experience during the autumn has shown us that the Arizona is highly suitable for this purpose, and that printing in-house is both easier and cheaper than if we were to do it externally.”
Christoffer Eliassen (left) works a lot with the clubs, and focusses on social media marketing, while Alexander is the managing director of the family business
Robust prints essential for outdoor use
Why is printing in-house so important? “The decoration on the surface can be adapted to the customer’s own design, for example the club logo, or the name of the event,” Christoffer explains. “Or it can be part of the frisbee’s identity and make it easier to recognise. Whatever the design, the print must be of such a high quality and produced with such robust ink that it can withstand outdoor use over time. This is what we’re seeing with this printer, and we’re also getting good feedback on both the properties and the appearance from customers in Norway and internationally.”
So, are the Eliassen brothers aiming for further growth? “Absolutely!” Alexander exclaims as the Arizona prints the next batch of frisbees in the background. “Now that we have established our production, stores, marketing and sales channels, there are plenty of opportunities for growth. Our cautious goal for the autumn was to deliver 500 to 1000 frisbees, but the results show that we were approaching 30,000 discs! This tells us a lot about the growth potential for the business.”
Shop and production in Hokksund. Apollo is the family business Alfa Disc’s own brand, while they supply a complete range in the Crystal Line and Chrome Line product lines
Published 20th Jan 2022