Niek Huiskes is product developer at Jobe and responsible for all wakeboard shapes, innovations and technology! Therefore Niek was interviewed by unleashed wake mag and the interview got featured in the latest issue (number 67). The interview is about Niek’s Job at Jobe and the process of developing a Jobe wakeboards and the Jobe EVO… Read the full interview below if you are curious about the development process of wakeboards and the EVO.
Hi Niek can you introduce yourself in a few words?
Hi Unleashed, my name is Niek Huiskes! I am 35 years young, living in the Netherlands and my biggest passion in life is wakeboarding. Everything I do is aimed at sharing this passion with the world. In my free time I am an active wakeboarder and during office hours I am working at Jobe. I am blessed I have been able to turn my hobby into work and that way I am sharing my passion with the entire world.
What is your function under JOBE?
Sharing my passion for wakeboarding translates into my current function at Jobe: Product developer. More specifically: I am the one who is responsible for the development of wakeboards and bindings at Jobe.
What are the developments and trends for the next year?
My mission is to constantly improve and innovate Jobe wakeboards and bindings. I want everyone to be able to step up their game and improve their skills. Because I believe your gear is an important factor in this process, my focus for 2016 is on improved control, more playful boards and on different flex layups.
How does the design process works?
The design process contains several steps, making sure the best possible outcome is achieved. The first step is finding the perfect materials for our products: I check what’s currently available and I am also always on the lookout for new materials that are useful for our market. The second step is all about innovating and deciding which board and bindings suits current needs: I am getting all Jobe riders together and get to the lake to feel and test different shapes, cores and flex layups. Once we have decided which board and bindings feel good, we open a mold to actually create it. We then thoroughly test it again and make the finishing touch.
The same process applies for the bindings: we test different stiffness overlays, different insoles and high and low density foam liners. The feedback during the testing-process is important for us to finish the final collection and come up with the best possible product.
Because we think getting feedback on our products is an important way to stay innovative, we came up with a brand new concept: Jobe Betatroopers. We invite people to sign up as a Jobe Betatrooper and be part of our brand. They get the chance to exclusively test our newest products and give feedback on them. That way people actually influence the design process of these products! We are really happy to see people willing to give feedback as we have welcomed many Betatroopers from all over the world already!
Tell us more about JOBE and the EVO Project
The EVO project has been a really big project and has had some challenges along the way. It actually started at my first day of work, which is 4 years ago. There was a need for a new binding, something that takes the sport to the next level. The first challenge was to convince people internally of this need. Once I managed to do that, the second challenge arose: creating something that does not have a patent. Because Jobe’s mission is to get as many people on the water, we do not believe in patents because it is a restriction for this mission. Therefore, we did not want to make use of current patented binding construction methods. Instead, we collaborated with the Dutch Technical University of Delft, which has a special Sports Innovation department, to come up with our own method. From this moment on, the pieces of the puzzle fell together: the combination of an enthusiastic team at Jobe HQ, great team riders and the unique insights from of the collaboration resulted in the EVOlution of wakeboarding!
Tell us more who decide for this new project under JOBE , and how it works?
Once all the challenges were overcome, the project moved to the next stage. Just like every other design process, this meant deciding about current needs, getting the right materials, a lot of testing, getting feedback, and testing again. The EVO project started from scratch because it had to be something completely new. Current needs from the market and our team riders resulted in the fact that the EVO evolved to a modular binding. The binding is completely customizable with different skins and it has direct control and extra flex control. Separate from the binding is the lightweight & fashionable sneaker, which also means this more expensive sneaker is less likely to wear out. It will save you a lot of money in the long run. Once the final testing round was done, I knew it was worth the 4 years of hard work!
Being the one responsible for the project, I worked with many different people: the other Jobe product developers, designers and team riders. This also meant I had to take many different opinions and feedback into account, which resulted in the final version of the EVO.
How has the company grown and changed over the past 4 years just when you arrived?
The mission of Jobe is the get everyone on the water. Every day we are working hard to make that happen. And every day we are working hard developing new products. This means innovations and improvements are an important driver for our company. For wakepark, this resulted in the fact that we started making boards with our own shapes and open molds. We also assembled a team which is 100% dedicated to wakepark: a team captain, a graphic designer, a marketeer and of course me as product developer. We are always trying to step up our game and this leads to many changes and improvements all the time.
Tell us more about sales and marketing all around the world I know its not your real part but everyone wants to know?
Once a product like the EVO is finished, it is certainly not the last step in the process. That is where sales & marketing come into play, because we want the world to know about the EVO. After all, if nobody knows about it, we cannot improve the sport! At Jobe, we think it is important to be completely transparent to everyone and do not promise something we cannot deliver. I think should be important for every brand!
What cool things are on the horizon for the next years except the jobe Evo one ?
For 2016 we added various new products to our collection. We have added new shapes to our collection and one of these shapes is made for Dominik Guhrs. Then there are new wetsuits that are specially designed for wakepark and special vests that can be worn inside out.
Did JOBE have planned to sponsor big events in the future and do more marketing to improve his “PROĒ image ?
This year we sponsored the WWA and it was a success. Therefore we are looking to do the same in the future. Also, the Jobe Betatroopers concept is an example of getting in touch with fanatic wakeboarders and using the feedback to innovate our products. After all, the products itself are what is most important in our sport!
Thanks for this interview NIEK , last words or thanks?
I want to thank everyone I am working with, especially the Jobe team riders, because I believe we can only step up our game if we work together!