Steve Brown is stockpiling triathlons.
The owner of Peach City Runners and Adventure Sports added the 33-year-old Peach Classic to the Three Lakes Series he recently created and Ultra520K Canada (originally known as Ultraman Canada) to his collection.
With nearly 10 races under his ownership, Brown was asked if owning triathlons is a money maker.
“I guess we’re going to find out,” said Brown smiling. “I think it can be. It’s like owning a small store.”
Brown insists he’s not a business genius, but he has found ways to keep his store operating in a challenging Penticton retail market for 18 years.
“I’m a small store operating in a market that has some big box stores in it. I can’t compete with the big box stores,” he said. “What I have done is I have found ways to carve out my niche in that marketplace, dealing with computer sales. Triathlon is no different. There is the big box store (Ironman) out there that dominates the market place and there is a couple of other larger players. In reality, all of our races are your small mom-and-pop type operations.”
Having the uncertainty of whether he can cash in with triathlons is why Brown created the Three Lakes Series (Osoyoos, Cultus Lake, B.C. and Sylvan Lake, Alta.) with co-race director Jeff Plant, with the potential to add a fifth by the end of 2016. He is also selling licenses for his Ultra520K series with races in Texas, New York State in the works with Australia, Spain and Israel being looked at. Brown has been approached by other communities to put triathlons on.
“We are not going to attract 1,000 people to these races,” he said. “None of them are making big money, but the reality is, if you have enough of them, and you can make a little bit at each one, that starts to add up.”
He and Plant have budgeted the Peach Classic, originally known as the Beach Classic, based on 300 athletes and it’s the same for his other Three Lakes Series races.
“One of the things that people have to realize is that the marketplace is saturated and we have to take a different approach to what the business model looks like for triathlon,” he continued.
The key, said Brown, is to figure out how you can survive, to go out and provide what customers want. Brown knows there are a lot of people that still want the smaller, personalized triathlon. They do want to go to an event and not be just another number.
“They want to feel important, they want to feel like they are getting that personalized attention,” he said. “We build our entire model around all of that. No different than Peach City Runners. Just translate that model to triathlon.”