In less than 3 years, Canadian-Chinese entrepreneur Tony Yeung has established AZTRON as a multinational SUP and watersports business with a distribution network covering more than 60 countries with a strong company statement: the safest and best quality-for-value products. Teased by 2021 video hinting the company expansion in 2021 into the Foil, Wing Foil and skateboard markets, we wanted to find out the secret formula behind this very impressive success story. Here’s our exclusive interview with Tony Yeung.
Hello Tony, could you please introduce yourself and tell us about your professional background in watersports ?
Hi, I am Tony Yeung, Co-Founder and CEO of AZTRON. I grew up in Vancouver, Canada, where I went to elementary, secondary, and university. Since I was young, I love and practice sport, boat, water and boardsports. After graduating from business school with a degree in finance and marketing, I worked several years in the financial trading and investment industry in North America. In 2010, I decided to come back to Asia and took a senior management role at a struggling and highly in debt inflatable product company in Shanghai, China, where my primary goal was to turnaround this aging company.
In 2011, I led the new inflatable SUP product and market development at a large Stand Up Paddle company in China. In the early days of inflatable SUP, I had to work very closely with the internal engineering team and overseas material manufacturers, as China does not make the key materials and does not possess the technology yet.
From 2012 to 2017, as Vice President of Sales, I grew the company from zero to more than a hundred thousand boards sold, which led the industry in both brand recognition and sales volume. It was a very fulfilling experience being involved in the SUP and watersport industry in its infancy stage in China, and this has given me the best foundation and experience for building AZTRON now. Aside from SUP and boardsports, I have extensive experience in making, importing and distributing boats and yachts up to 70 feet in the United States, Spain and Greece.
What is the DNA and the history of the brand AZTRON?
After achieving the pinnacle, in January 2018, I co-founded AZTRON with Fiona Wang, who was my fellow Vice President of Marketing and Product Design at my former company. While all companies aim to make as much money or sell as much product/service as possible, AZTRON was established with a different mission. After succeeding in building a top-selling brand, I hope to create a brand that offers the safest watersport products in the world. As you might know, before AZTRON was founded, 99.9% of the inflatable SUP boards in the world were single-chamber structured, and this seems to be a perfectly acceptable norm for everyone in the industry.
Over the years of making and selling single chamber inflatable SUPs, I always ask myself why all other inflatable watersport products must have at least two air chambers but not inflatable SUP. The answer came to my mind was, our industry, especially inflatable SUP, grew too quickly, where everyone only cares to make as many SUPs as possible, while no one paid any attention to user safety and the what-ifs. Hence, Fiona and I founded AZTRON, to make what we are best at— the inflatable SUPs, but we will only make double chamber inflatable SUPs. We want everyone in the world to be able to afford double chamber SUPs at a price similar to single chamber ones, so price will no longer be the determining factor for being safe or not.
Now, AZTRON is more than just inflatable SUPs, where we now have a full line of watersport products, including wing/SUP foiling equipment, surfskates, all kinds of carbon fiber boards, apparel and drysuits.
How “big” is AZTRON after close to 3 years of activity? What have been the best sellers for you these past two years and do you know why?
AZTRON is now distributed in more than 60 countries and regions, by an exclusive country partner in each country. With dedication and mutual cooperation, AZTRON has become one of the fastest-growing watersport brands in the last couple of years. Most industry players and dealers recognized AZTRON as a top innovative brand, while being very good value for money.
Among the popular products of AZTRON, our All-Round iSUP (LUNAR/MERCURY/TITAN) and Compact iSUP Range (NOVA) are the best sellers, as they are very unique in their 50/50 double chamber design and 50% smaller than ordinary iSUP. Aside from iSUP, our composite boards, like ECLIPSE 11’0” soft-top board and full carbon fiber LIGHTSPEED 14’0” race SUP are also very popular.
VIDEO: the Aztron 2021 Collection
You’ve just published a teaser hinting that you are making a move into the foil market, can we know more about what’s coming on that front?
Yes, we have entered the foil market by launching our very first carbon aluminum fiber foil, ROCKET 1450. Until now, foiling has been a very expensive sport, where a foil can easily cost more than 1,000 EUR, and a set of foil, wing, and board can cost over 4,000 EUR.
ROCKET 1450 is designed for wing foiling, and its compact shape and size offer high maneuverability in the waves. Built with prepreg carbon material, the front and rear wings are strong yet very light in weight. Users can also choose from 60 to 90cm mast lengths, to adjust according to their different needs in SUP, surf, wing and windsurf. With all these functions, ROCKET 1450 foil only cost 499 EUR MSRP. To accompany ROCKET 1450 foil, we have also launched our first Wing collection (4.0 and 5.0) and foil board collection (FALCON and FALCON Air).
Essentially, AZTRON now has a complete line of wing foiling equipment. To start wing foiling, AZTRON FALCON foil board + ROCKET 1450 foil + WING 4.0/5.0 can cost only less than 1,500 EUR. This allows more people to start foiling, and I trust this will make the foiling marketing bigger and more accessible.
You know we like SUP racing here. How competitive are your boards and where do they stand in the competition range ?
Our most competitive race board is our LIGHTSPEED 14’0″ Full Carbon Fiber Race SUP. It comes in at only 12.5kg, with 290L of volume, and 24.5″ of width. It is constructed with advanced CNC shaped EPS foam core, and the entire board is made out of super lightweight carbon, laminated over the entire hull. The thick and rounded nose cut through water efficiently and effortlessly. The LIGHTSPEED comes in two shapes, All-Water and Flat-Water versions. The All-Water version has a mono-concave hull for great tracking and fast speed in downwind condition, while the Flat-Water version has a double-concave hull for fast speed on lakes or calm water conditions. Both Lightspeed boards are results of research and development with our race riders and brand ambassadors, where they have tested our boards for countless hours on all kinds of water conditions.
Your website introduces an international rider team. Can you tell us who they are and detail AZTRON’s ambassador strategy?
AZTRON International Rider Team was formed in 2019, and it is aimed to take AZTRON products to the limit. At the same time, each rider also acts as AZTRON brand ambassador, where they show the general public and AZTRON board owners how to enjoy water sport in a safe and fun way.
In the current team, we have Carlo Ciabatti who is our windsurf specialist from Italy, and he is a current Italian National Windsurfing Team Member. For speed, Madis Vitsut has won consecutive Estonian SUP National Open for last couple of years. In the whitewater, we have Jake Taylor from the USA, who is certified by ACA as Level 4 Whitewater SUP Instructor and Level 2 SUP Instructor Trainer. Also, Jake has won the 2019 Hong Kong SUP Open Race. For brand ambassadors, we have Alexandre from France, Dominik from Germany, and Daniele from Italy. In 2021, AZTRON ambassador program will further expand to more than 20 riders to cover all continents and all board types in the AZTRON line up. We are recruiting for more passionate and skillful riders and ambassadors. We welcome talents around the world to join the team.
Where and how can one buy an AZTRON board right now? What is your current international presence at the moment?
AZTRON boards and products are available in more than 60 countries now. In each country, all AZTRON products are imported directly by the authorized exclusive distributor, where it will supply each local qualified AZTRON dealer. By doing this, we can ensure the quality of service provided by each dealer, as only competent and qualified shops are supplied with AZTRON products.
For end consumers, the easiest way to buy AZTRON products is to search on the internet for the nearest AZTRON authorized dealer, and I am sure there is at least one in your country. If assistance is needed, please visit AZTRON official website and send us a message, our customer service specialist will reply you on the same day.
Thank you Tony Yeung for answering our questions.