Today we get to share with you an exciting update on the future of Five Ultimate. We’re teaming up with Savage Apparel Co. and ARIA Discs to create a new company called XII Brands. We’re a team of ultimate companies focused on the long term success of the sport we love. If you have a minute, we’d love to tell you a bit more about why we’re doing this, how we got here, and why we think this is a good thing.
When we started Five Ultimate back in 2006, we weren’t necessarily planning for the long run. We just loved ultimate, fanatically, and wanted any excuse possible to be more involved in the sport.
The first years were full of mistakes, happy accidents, and the lifestyle you’d expect for a startup clothing manufacturer and retailer. We spent many long hours at the factory, many long hours at our desks working with customers, and many long hours at the hundreds of tournaments we played in and sponsored. Ultimate was our life!
The long hours paid off, and sometime in 2008 we realized that we had a shot at turning Five Ultimate into a great small business. With five egalitarian owners, we suffered the trials and travails of a consensus-based decision-making model. We only moved forward on anything with the full support of all five siblings. While this slowed progress and inevitably frustrated colleagues and partners in the short run, the long hours in the sibling board room gifted us a clear and collective vision for the kind of company that we wanted Five to be. We believed that ultimate was good for the world and wanted to help build a better sport, not just a bigger sport.
Our mission statement still guides everything we do. The core of our mission, drafted in March 2006, still forms the basis of how we live:
“Our mission is to serve ultimate. As the sport evolves, we strive to reinforce the attributes that make it unique: Spirit of the Game, athletic excellence, and a sense of community. From the rookie to the old timer, from the casual to the competitive, from the end zone to the dance floor, we make life better for ultimate players.”
The 2006 version did get updated over the years. The original draft did include some fun language, but lacked clarity: “We eat ultimate for breakfast” and “We serve ultimate for breakfast” were great components for a startup, but I’m glad we’ve gotten more precise with our mission, vision, and values.
Ok, fine, but why wax poetic about mission statements and breakfast allegories? Because publicly stating what you stand for and who you stand with, that matters. That means something. It means you have a bedrock to rely on when times get tough, or when you’re not sure what the most ethical course of action is. Throughout our 14-year history, we’ve always stood for ultimate and stood with ultimate. That much hasn’t changed.
And it won’t change going forward, despite a shift in our ownership structure and operations. We’re still mission-focused, we still have a clear vision, we’re still thinking long-term. So when the opportunity to collaborate with another ultimate company came up, we examined it through the same lens as any other business decision. How does this align with our mission? Can we build a better company here, not just a bigger one? What’s the environmental impact of this change?
Savage has always shared our passion for ultimate and spirit of the game. Great people who believe that ultimate is good for the world. Check!
Savage has people and processes that complement Five’s as we invest and grow. Check!
Savage has a U.S.-based supply chain that can transition Five from overseas manufacturing to made-in-USA and reduce the footprint of tens of thousands of apparel products. Check!
The list goes on, but these are the big ones. XII Brands (the combination of Five Ultimate, Savage Apparel Co., and ARIA Discs) helps us build a better sport, not just a bigger one. We’re celebrating that, and we hope you’ll join us.
Nothing but love,
Zahlen, Xtehn, Vehro, Rohre, Qxhna