Sport management graduate uses business sense to create successful hockey company


At home on the ice, hockey player and businessman Landon Alford '07 established Unbreakable Hockey, which specializes in unique, durable laces for ice skates.
Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: May 24, 2010

If Milton Bradley is to the world of board games what the Wright Brothers are to modern-day aviation, then the name Landon Alford '07 will one day be synonymous with the sport of hockey.

Landon's love of hockey came from his mother, who was born and raised in Alaska.

Although Landon, who considers himself to be a first and a half generation Aggie, grew up in Central Texas - an area with little snow or passion for ice sports - he always knew he wanted to stay close to home to attend Texas A&M University.

"My grandfather went to Texas A&M for two years before transferring to the University of Houston," he says. "He always regretted not finishing here."

Landon's love of hockey and the ice continued during his time at Texas A&M. The relatively young Texas A&M Ice Hockey Team had been formed in 1999, and Landon was an active member, even serving as team captain for two years.

Many of Landon's hockey teammates were students in the Department of Health and Kinesiology's division of sport management, and after learning what the program had to offer, he knew it was the right path to help fulfill his lifetime dream of owning a sports company.

"You learn more through the sport management internship program than you do in your first two years of college," he says.

And it was during his internship with a semiprofessional hockey team in Dallas that he first learned about a problem that all hockey players were having with their ice skates - the laces had a tendency to snap.

"It takes five to 10 minutes to lace a pair of skates. When one breaks, the only thing you can do is relace it," Landon says. "And if it happens right before a game, you're running back to the pro shop to buy new laces. That wastes ice time, which is about $350 an hour."

Landon's experiences through his internship led him to partner with fellow Aggie and friend David Tudone, and after graduating, the two started their own business - Unbreakable Hockey.

The company's success lies in the use of a unique blend of nylon and Kevlar, a type of synthetic fiber, to form their laces. A metal end is used to cap the laces instead of a traditional plastic end. This helps to better stop expansion and fraying.

Even as a former student, Landon looked to the sport management program for help. When he was an undergraduate, Landon remembered taking a sport marketing class that required him to create a marketing plan for an actual sports company. Now, as a new business owner, he decided to enlist the help of a new class of Aggies. Landon asked Lydia Dubuisson, instructional assistant professor of sport management, for assistance, and she offered the use of her class.

"He is a success story that I still talk about in my classes," Lydia says. "He is an excellent representative of Texas A&M and sport management."

Landon knows that running a successful business is time consuming and challenging at times, but he is appreciative of the support he has been given, both as an undergraduate and a former student of sport management.

"I don't think I would be where I am today if I had not gone into sport management," he says.

And even though Landon may not live on the ice every day, he is making sure that for those who do, their ice skates are up to the challenge.