Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)

October 21, 2008 23:59 ET

Off Axis Boardshop rides the wave of success - Doug and Danny Elder win BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for Saskatchewan

REGINA, Oct. 21 - Enthusiasm for the sport of wakeboarding
prompted Doug and Danny Elder to start a business that has its finger on the
pulse of Regina's youth culture. The brothers run Off Axis Boardshop Ltd., a
rapidly growing store which sells skateboards, snowboards, wakeboards and
accessories. Real innovators, they also organize lifestyle events that attract
big-name sponsors and young people in the thousands. Doug, 33, and Danny, 27,
have won BDC's Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Saskatchewan and will
be honoured tonight at a ceremony in Vancouver, British Columbia.
With an innate understanding of what clients between the ages of 15 and
24 trust, Doug and Danny have established themselves as leaders in youth
marketing, attracting an increasing number of corporate sponsors to their
events. "We started doing the events to promote the lifestyle we were
marketing in our store," explains Danny. "As the events got bigger, companies
such as telecoms, banks and auto dealerships decided they wanted to get
involved to market to the same demographic we were targeting." Off Axis is
known for its Summer Invasion and Jibfest events which feature wakeboarding,
skateboarding and snowboarding, but also motocross, music and 'vendor
villages' where patrons, numbering well over 10,000, can shop for all kinds of
youth-oriented items.

Jumping in

Doug was working in the financial services field in 2000 when he and
Danny took up the relatively new sport of wakeboarding. When they started
giving wakeboarding lessons, people asked them where they could buy gear. That
led to the idea of opening a store catering to wakeboarders. "We were
passionate about this new sport," says Doug. "I decided to take a chance and
try something different. The idea expanded and we decided to be a full-service
one-stop shop for skateboarding, snowboarding and wakeboarding."
From the very beginning, the business was a family affair. Their father
and sister helped out wherever they could as Doug and Danny got the store off
the ground. The store has doubled in size and quadrupled in sales and number
of employees since those early days. Doug handles the business side of things
while Danny contributes on the marketing and people side. "Doug and I are
opposites," says Danny, "but our ability to come together and meet in the
middle is our biggest strength. That is what has helped us to get to where we
are today."
Rather than using traditional methods to advertise their business, the
Elder brothers rely on 'guerrilla' marketing. "We give people stickers and
t-shirts, go out and talk to kids one on one," says Danny. "We tell them about
the store; they put our stickers on their boards and suddenly they're all
talking about it."
Off Axis supports local athletes and earmarks a percentage of revenues
from its events for charity. "It's our way of showing that what is important
to our clients is important to us too," says Doug.
"Doug and Danny understand their target market. They've used innovative
methods to promote their business and earn the respect and patronage of a
young demographic," says BDC President and CEO Jean-René Halde.
"Our ability to reach out to youth and do things in line with pop culture
in a way that comes across as legitimate and real is what makes Off Axis and
Doug and Danny Elder who we are," sums up Doug.

Highlighting young leaders

BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards are a highlight of Small Business Week.
They recognize the entrepreneurial spirit and the business and leadership
accomplishments of Canadians between the ages of 19 and 35. Winners from each
province and territory are selected by a panel based on the originality of
their business concept, success, growth potential and social involvement. The
panel also considers the entrepreneur's age when the business was started and
any special challenges that were overcome.

Small Business Week partners

Contributing to the success of this year's Small Business Week and Young
Entrepreneur Awards are the following national sponsors: Rogers, Western
Economic Diversification Canada and Export Development Canada. Privileged
partners are the Pan Canadian Community Futures Group and the Canadian Chamber
of Commerce, which has been a privileged partner of the event since 1981.

About BDC

BDC is Canada's business development bank. From 94 branches across the
country, BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing,
venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs. BDC works with
entrepreneurs in all industries, through all economic cycles and focuses on
helping small and medium sized businesses in their development projects, local
and global. BDC manages a $10.6 billion loan and investment portfolio and
serves over 28,000 clients. Small and medium sized businesses make up 99.7% of
all employer businesses in Canada. Visit for more information.

Small Business Week is a registered trademark of BDC.

Contact Information

  • BDC Media Room, (604) 893-7343, 1-877-232-9321; After October 21: Johanne
    Bissonnette, Media Relations Manager, (514) 283-7929