Rick Buchanan is the Founder and CEO of Biion Footwear, a Canadian manufacturer of inspirational and innovative footwear. Buchanan is a visionary with an entrepreneurial spirit that has catapulted him to the forefront of the fashion industry and now, into the golf industry. In 2003, he founded one of the top Canadian Fashion/Streetwear Agencies – Spearmint Pelican Sales & Marketing. A company that distributes, markets, and represents clothing, footwear and accessory brands from around the world.
The Spearmint Pelican Agency works with cutting edge art, skate, music and fashion influenced global brands. The company evolved within the street fashion industry and work with a global family of friends, influencers, and tastemakers to build brands. The family of brands consist of WESC, Insight, Penfield Outerwear, Deus, VSTR, Sitka, Brixton Hats, Native Shoes, Gram Footwear, Generic Surplus, Raen Optics, Allday Apparel, Classified, Borel Belts and Accessories, Archive Belts by Fullum and Holt. All brands represented have unique commonalities and complement each other in the showroom, at retail and with the end consumer.
Biion Footwear is a direct result of Buchanan’s 15-years of fashion experience combined with his keen business foresight and aptitude to understand the consumer who wants more than the average. These factors are why Buchanan launched Biion Footwear in 2013. With key financial support from Investor and Partner Samuel Bennett, key strategic shareholders and a strong Biion team Buchanan’s vision to create a lightweight, comfortable, slip-on, and spikeless performance golf shoe is a now a reality.
I forgot my golf shoes at home and I just had a pair of light casual EVA shoes on and had to wear them. The ah-ha moment! I have never had anything this light on my feet on the golf course and I golfed amazing . From here I went straight to the drawing board. With influence from my 15 years in the fashion industry the designs began and within 6 months, plenty of R&D and determination we had samples and went to the biggest golf industry show in the world — the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. I could never imagined what happened next; For 3 solid days Biion was lined up with consumers, buyers, retailers distributors all looking to try on a biion as there was “Nothing like it “ in the golf industry . We were very fortunate to have this success to of the gate and we really hit a home run at the show and haven’t looked back. Now distributed in over 20 countries globally , sold in some of the best Golf Courses in the world our Biion team has never felt so proud. There is absolutely no better feeling than seeing a consumer in a product you designed and telling you that they will never wear anything else but Biions!
MATT WARD: How did the concept of Biion golf shoes get started?
RICHARD BUCHANAN: With golf shoes over the last several years becoming even more technical with more spikes, more elevated midsoles , carbon fibre shanks, custom insoles and stabilizing material uppers, all technologies that actually work against the natural movement of your foot. Biion peels away a lot of the unnecessary applications and gets back to the basics of motion and feel . We are the closest shoe to golfing in barefoot which gives you the connection to the ground and almost makes you forget totally about your shoes and puts your mind into your golf game where it should be. In golf — it is the bow behind the arrow, you don’t need $300 shoes, $500 drivers $250 putters, you need your mind, your body and determination and the rest takes care of itself. I wanted to reinvigorate the classic oxford brogue and bring back to golf this timeless silhouette with colours and designs that would shake the industry while offering the performance any golfer needs to be completive on the golf course .
MW: You are in a category with a very big 800-pound gorilla called FootJoy — how do you plan on competing against them?
RB: Footjoy is an inspirational company and has done a lot for the game of golf and they make great shoes. At Biion we believe coexistence and competition is great and if it wasn’t, products wouldn’t evolve and we wouldn’t strive for excellence. At Biion we’ve designed an incredible product and there is truly “ Nothing Like it”. Not only does Biion offer performance on the golf course but our shoes can be worn on your yacht, at your cottage, to dinner and everywhere in between. We are the ” One shoe with many talents”.
MW: In rough percentage terms – what’s the breakdown of your sales in the areas of green grass shops, online and retail outlets?
RB: 60% 20% 20%, respectively.
MW: Golf shoes face a tough dilemma — being fashionable can often be less than durable — and those that are durable can be drab looking. How do you marry the two issues together for customers?
RB: We’ve simplified the golf shoe with the mentality of “less is more” With all the technical aspects going into golf shoes and golf clubs, it hasn’t lowered the score amongst golfers. I started golfing barefoot when I was four years old in my back yard, just as many pros practice bare foot, they are looking for the closest connection to the ground. Biion footwear gives golfers this connection to the ground, our fit is like a second skin and flows with every movement of your swing creating the least resistance, it works with you, not against you. We use patented molecular e.v.a. compound in our shoe which is a high performance form fitting material that gives us the opportunity to play with several different techniques of color and prints, making our designs limitless for the fashionable performance golfer. We designed out shoes with the help of professional golfers, we put a lot of research into the functionality of our shoe along with the design and we are proud of the outcome. Although sometimes from a golfers and consumers eye and perspective we are just a rubber shoe and would not have the stability to be a golf shoe, for these people I urge you to “try on a biion”. You will not be disappointed.
MW: What role do endorsements play from those on the various professional golf tours? Does Biion have players using the product now?
RB: From the day we started we said we wouldn’t get pulled into the endorsement game. Golfers are going to wear our shoes because they like them, not because we pay them. This has worked, as we have several professional golfers wearing our shoes all the time. I know we will soon see Biion on the podium — organically.
MW: Customer service is a central element for all companies. Define the term in your mind.
RB: We are 110% customer service orientated, consumers are our backbone. Our purpose is to create a customer that creates a customer. Biion has become infectious because of this motto.
MW: How do you solicit customer service and in what ways does such feedback influence future product efforts?
RB: We conduct online surveys and a tremendous amount of event activations so that we are face to face with consumers and we take this feed back to heart and try to improve as a company as we look to the future.
MW: Growing the game – especially among Millennials — is a major element on the sports’ agenda. How do you see Biion being an influencer in such efforts?
RB: We are bringing fun, fashion, comfort, performance, and a color spectrum to the game of golf with 50 plus colors that no other brand could do. We have a Biion for every demograph. Millennials like Biion because they don’t have to go out and buy another pair of shoes to golf in. In Biions they can wear them to the course, on the course, from the course, and everywhere else beyond the course and look great doing it.
MW: Golf is famous for people taking mulligans — if you had one moment in your life where you could take a mulligan what would it be?
RB: I am a strong believer in life that everything happens for a reason. In life I wouldn’t take the mulligan, but in golf I have taken several!
MW: Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
RB: Its the old saying “lead by example” Watching my father and grandfather working so hard and instilling these ethics and family values in me has been all the inspiration I’ve ever needed.
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