Carbitex Inc., the maker of Kennewick technology that turns carbon fabric into flexible carbon composites, had a choice to make when it debuted in 2012.
Its patented composite material, flexible but rigid, can be used in a large number of products. Junus Khan, founder and president, had to figure out which one to target.
Four years ago, Khan and his team chose shoes.
Integrated into athletic shoes, Carbitex’s carbon composite plates provide strength and lift thanks to its ability to transfer power from the foot to the ground. It’s a branded addition to the high-end footwear – boots in Europe – worn by some of the world’s most elite athletes.
Footwear-focused planning, development and marketing efforts are paying off.
Carbitex claims repeat orders from its stable of shoe customers including Adidas, growing revenues, approximately $ 15 million in investor capital over multiple rounds, a payroll that has grown to 50, and a new CEO.
He even put his most prominent shoe to date, the Adidas model formerly known as X Ghosted, on Argentine soccer legend Leo Messi. The Ghosted X has been renamed in his honor.
Kahn called it the culmination of four years of efforts to promote its carbon composite as a key component of high performance footwear. In addition to Adidas, it supplies a wide range of shoe manufacturers including Scott, DC Shoes, and Lake Cycling.
The list goes on, even though Khan has said he can’t announce anything concrete.
But it’s telling that its existing customers have all placed orders and are using Carbitex in a growing number of applications, including running shoes, cycling shoes and more. Khan said outdoor shoes are a growing category.
Carbitex gets a foothold
Carbitex quintupled its turnover in 2020 and is expected to double again this year. He does not disclose the income, but in a 2016 notice to the Securities and Exchange Commission, he said sales totaled less than $ 1 million.
Today the number of jobs reaches 50. Khan expects it to reach 200 in the coming years.
In its most recent disclosure to the SEC, filed in September, it reported $ 6.3 million in new equity investment, its second round this year.
A month later, he welcomed new CEO Rob Langstaff, former president of Adidas North America, who succeeded longtime CEO Ron Boninger, who retired.
Welcome of a new CEO
Khan spent six months looking for a CEO who would take Carbitex to the next level after Boninger announced his intention to retire.
Khan said Langstaff was the right fit.
He has held senior development roles at Brooks Running and most recently at Portland-based Keen Footwear. He commutes between his home in Willamette Valley and the eastern neighborhoods of Carbitex in Kennewick.
For Khan, Langstaff’s footwear experience is important. But the same goes for its work in developing regional offices. A young but growing business needs a leader who knows how to build bandwidth.
“Rob did it for the regional offices of large companies and on his own,” Khan said. “We were really lucky.”
Langstaff isn’t the only new addition. In January, Khan announced two new leaders. Erika Canfield has joined as vice president of global marketing and Clark Morgan as director of global footwear business development.
Both have extensive experience in the industry and brand development. They join a team that includes Dave Lajeunesse, Director of Operations, and Tom De Shiell, Senior Engineer.
Partnership with Leo Messi
Adidas, the Germany-based sneaker brand, launched its X Ghosted “soccer shoes” for over $ 250 in 2020 with Carbitex composite plates integrated into the foresole.
The technology is said to have helped football players get off the ground and was such an important part of the packaging that Adidas made the outline of the plate visible on the sole.
Messi, one of the most successful and highest paid athletes in the world, signed and the X Ghosted was renamed X Speedflow.1 and received a colorful makeover.
It’s a win without qualifying, Khan said.
“It has been a huge success for Adidas and for us as well. We are one of, if not the technologies featured in this boot, ”Khan said.
Adidas has released a simplified “.3” version that sells for under $ 100. The .3 does not have a Carbitex heel plate, but does feature the contour of the sole.
Carbitex continues to look to private investors to support its growth, which includes increasing its manufacturing capacity. She opened a second facility near her first in Kennewick and is equipping a third.
Since 2016, he has raised about $ 15 million in equity investments, according to information released to the SEC. The latest cycle was reported in September and includes a contribution from the Richland Fuse Fund, of which Boninger, the retired CEO, is a leader.
The three Kennewick manufacturing plants are within a mile of each other. Khan said the arrangement would work for now. But he hopes to regroup in a single establishment within two years.
He said the company is developing a new strategic plan under the leadership of its new CEO.
Carbitex: 1426 E. Third Ave., Building B, Kennewick; carbitex.com.