- Seton circa 1999
It was the summer of 1999 and Seton Claggett was on a long training ride in the deserts of Tucson, AZ. In training for his first Ironman, he had a hard time finding a local source for triathlon equipment. After several hours of baking in the Arizona heat, Seton came up with a grand idea - start an online triathlon store. After all, if he couldn't find all the necessities locally then there had to be others with the same predicament. This was quite a bold thought at the time, as it was the start of the dot-com bust and Seton didn't exactly have the retail experience to run an online store (he was working on his MS in Hydrology at the time). After completing his Ironman he took that extra 20-hours a week he was putting into training and started working on the foundation of what is now TriSports.com. In April of 2000, backed with a strong business plan, TriSports.com launched out of two bedrooms in the Claggett's house.
Developing a superior customer service ethic, thanks mainly to Debbie Claggett (who was working full time to support the Claggetts and providing "after-hours" customer support), the store gained lots of traction quickly. Both Debbie and Seton understood what it took to make this work: with Seton's background in triathlon and his understanding of the urgency in which triathletes need their gear, coupled with Debbie's understanding of providing a great customer experience, they created the ultimate shop for triathletes.
Occupying a 32,000 sq ft facility housing a state-of-the-art retail store, warehouse, and corporate headquarters, TriSports.com is now supported by 25+ staff members.
Opening a store on the internet is easy, creating a sustainable business model isn't as easy. Here at TriSports.com we focus on our customers, our staff, our suppliers and the environment - all of which have defined who we are. All four of these are interconnected and require each of the others to be successful.Our Customers
We don't mean to brag, but our customers are awesome! While many of our customers place their orders online and never require personal contact, our niche is such that many do call up to ask for help selecting products because they are new to the sport or simply want our opinion since we use most everything we sell. There is nothing more fun than working in an industry that supports a person's hobby - it makes the customers very happy to be speaking with us! Many have become loyal followers over the years, and a lot of our business is based on referrals.
One interesting facet of being online is that we are a global company and we feel it is our responsibility to support the "local" triathlon communities that support us. We sponsor 30 athletes from around the world, help support/sponsor over 60 events around the world, and donate to several charities, including the Challenged Athletes Foundation. In all, TriSports.com has put over $750,000 back into the sport over the last 3-years. Our goal is not to simply sell the products people need in order to compete in the sport, but to actually help the sport grow. By supporting the clubs, teams, individuals, races and charities, we are able to see the fruit of our efforts in this goal.
If you own a business, or have ever worked for one, you know that the company can only be as good as its worst employee. TriSports.com has been extremely fortunate and has an incredible group of people working here. From day one our founders have set out to provide the type of employment experience they would want from a company. Benefits in the triathlon/bike/run/swim industry are minimal, especially amongst the retail sector. TriSports.com has an incredible benefits package for our employees, including: 401k, profit sharing, medical/dental insurance, and many more. As you can imagine, most of the employees working at TriSports.com are involved in triathlon, cycling, running, swimming, or some other related sport. Between their desire to work in this industry and the founders' desire to provide a great work environment, TriSports.com has attracted a very diverse group of people - from students to doctors to former business owners to architects to scientists to engineers. Everyone working at TriSports.com is family and with our open door policy everyone has the opportunity to share their ideas and visions for growth.
From our inception we knew we would have to create great relationships with our suppliers to be successful. Starting without a true physical location made forging those relationships very difficult at times; however, several of our suppliers were willing to step on board and take a chance with us. Through the years, we have built on those relationships while creating new ones along the way. Respecting our suppliers and working with them to help improve products (largely through customer feedback), rather than viewing them simply as a means for goods to sell, has helped to open many opportunities that we pass along to our customers. There are some truly incredible companies in this industry and we are lucky to call most of them friends, not just business partners.Our Environment
Running a business while keeping the environment as a top priority is not an easy task. TriSports.com has several programs in place that are helping reduce our footprint.
We offer a commuter program for our staff that rewards them for commuting to work. We have showers and lockers for them to use and provide a place for them to securely park their bicycle. We currently have over 60% of our staff on our commuter program, 80% of which commute to work more than twice a week.Mel, one of our many employees who commute, parks her bike.
When we built our new building were able to budget for several key environmental features. Here are some examples: compact fluorescent lighting throughout most of the building; provided natural light in all workplace areas; purchased furniture that was made from recycled materials and/or able to be recycled after use; installed recycled carpet; installed super low-e glass throughout our storefront; multiple zone air conditioning so areas of the building that aren't in use can be turned off; dual light controls in office areas to minimize light usage.
We have since added two water harvesting tanks, allowing us to hold 36,000 gallons of rain water and condensate from our coolers to use for our landscaping needs. We are also adding a 128kW solar array in Fall 2011, which will cover approximately 90% of our building's energy needs. These two systems are each among the largest private sector systems in existence.
Our recycle bin is four times larger than our garbage dumpster. We reduce, reuse and recycle as much shipping and office material as possible. Recycling is great; however, reusing is even better. We reuse the vast majority of our in-bound packing material and, with our Green Box Program, we re-use perfectly good used boxes for their shipment. We also make sure to use both sides of our non-confidential office paper. Some other recycling efforts include:
- CD/DVD Recycling
- Bicycle Part Recycling (old parts are sent to Resource Revival to have a new life as artwork)
- Shoe Donations (we have partnered with a local charity to donate customers' old shoes for reuse within the Tucson community)
While these programs take time and money to maintain, we know it is our responsibility to continue with these efforts.
Thanks for taking the time to learn more about our company. See you in the water, on the roads, and trails!