509, a prominent brand in the snowmobile industry, has captured the hearts of snowmobilers worldwide with its innovative products and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Founded by Tom Delanoy in 2003, the company has evolved from a humble beginning to become a global sensation in the snowmobile market. Here’s a look into the intriguing history of 509, tracing its origins, key milestones, and its transformation into an iconic brand.
Origins and Early Challenges
509's journey started with Tom Delanoy's deep passion for snowmobiling. In 200, Delanoy envisioned creating a snowmobile film featuring himself and local riders in Spokane, Washington. However, lacking a video camera and any experience in filmmaking, he faced a significant obstacle. Undeterred, Delanoy borrowed a cheap handicam from his parents and embarked on a quest to learn the art of backcountry snowmobile film making.
Through countless hours on the mountain and mastering video editing techniques, Delanoy completed his first snowmobile film. The 30-minute video, released online for free, received an overwhelmingly positive response, leaving viewers hungry for more. Encouraged by the feedback, Delanoy purchased his own camera, established the website www.509films.com, and created 509's inaugural product, a DVD titled "First Ascent."
Expansion and Product Innovation
The success of "First Ascent" propelled 509 forward. Delanoy attended various snowmobile tradeshows during the 2005-2006 season, selling the DVD and further promoting the brand. He continued producing annual snowmobile DVDs until an unfortunate snowmobiling accident left him with a broken pelvis. During his recovery, Delanoy had ample time to contemplate the future of 509.
It was during this period that he realized the dissatisfaction snowmobilers had with existing ski goggles, sparking his desire to revolutionize the market. Recognizing the lack of innovation, Delanoy spent the next year designing, developing, and sourcing a snowmobile-specific goggle called the "Sinister". With funding from a small family investment, he ordered 500 Sinister goggles, initially apprehensive about their potential sales.
However, through an aggressive online marketing campaign with the slogan, "You're a snowmobiler... Act like it. Scrap your ski goggles," Delanoy successfully presold all 500 goggles before their arrival. This achievement firmly established 509 as a premium gear brand, riding the wave of momentum generated by the Sinister's success.
Building on Triumph
Following the triumph of the Sinister goggles and the increasing demand for their products, Delanoy introduced the "Aviator" goggle in 2008. The following year, 509 expanded its offerings to include snowmobile helmets. Delanoy adopted an innovative approach by designing a snowmobile-specific helmet and goggle combination, resonating with consumers seeking a unified gear solution.
The Company's strategic expansion didn't stop there. Recognizing the immense potential in the Midwest and East Coast snowmobile markets, 509 embarked on an ambitious undertaking. Renting a Ryder box van, the company traveled to over a dozen tradeshows, spanning from Seattle to New Hampshire. By personally showcasing their products to snowmobilers across the country, 509 experienced rapid sales growth, solidifying its reputation as a unique and forward-thinking brand.
509's expanding product line and growing brand recognition attracted interest from dealers, distributors, and snowmobile athletes. As a result, the company transitioned from a purely retail-focused operation to wholesale distribution. Moving from a small apartment to a garage and eventually to a new heaquaters with over 30 people and offsite warehouse.
The remarkable journey of 509 showcases the power of passion, determination, and a deep understanding of the needs of a niche market. From a simple snowmobile film to a comprehensive product lineup, the company's evolution has been driven by its unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional gear to snowmobilers. The company's dedication to product innovation, combined with an unwavering commitment to meeting the needs of snowmobilers, has propelled it to become one of the most iconic brands in the snowmobile industry.
In conclusion, the story of 509 serves as an inspiration to entrepreneurs and enthusiasts alike. It exemplifies the transformative power of a vision and the dedication required to turn that vision into reality. As snowmobilers hit the trails with 509 gear, they not only enjoy top-quality products but also become part of a legacy that has reshaped the snowmobile industry for the better.