Company and Industry History
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UWCI was a privately held company specializing in high -quality Global Underwater Camera Equipment and general fishing gear. Founded in 1974, UWCI got its start manufacturing high-end sport fishing and boating gear. In the late 1990s, the company had introduced its first Underwater Camera product, marketed specifically to people who like to fish.
Management believed that it was the company’s skill at translating retailer and user feedback into exceptional product design and functionality that fueled the growth of its underwater camera business. Through attentive channel management and, as Hook put it,
“a deep understanding of what specialty retailers needed,” UWCI had developed strong relationships with its key accounts. Hook also believed that UWCI’s grasp of its consumers’ preferences and usage had given it an edge over underwater camera manufacturers whose core business was in hunting applications. The firm had built its Under Water Camera line for the serious outdoor enthusiasts’ market, and the products had won applause for durability and value-added features like the integrated compass and thermometer. Moreover, industry reports indicated that the UWCI Underwater Camera outperformed competing products on navigation. UWCI’s proprietary firmware—a custom computer program embedded into hardware that “ran” functions—optimized the GPS chipset’s Wide Area Augmentation System capability, which provided more precise navigation.
The company was not always first to market. In fact, UWCI had found it was free to lag in technological innovation with little risk because, when the company finally introduced new products, they surpassed those of competitors in addressing customer needs. Customer word-of-mouth recommendations had given UWCI strong momentum with its customer base. In early 2007, UWCI prepared to enter new, underserved underwater sub-markets, including scuba applications.