All along, Jason Goger knew his goal was to work for an entrepreneurial company focused on reaching consumers thirsting for new technologies.
He got that desire from his father, who started small businesses and crafted various products when Goger was growing up outside Charlottesville, Va.
Goger took a job at Black & Decker Co. to learn how a big corporation worked, "just so I had that understanding," he said. After a few years, it came time to follow his passion. He interviewed with several companies, but only one seemed to be the right philosophical match: STX LLC, the Baltimore-based sports equipment maker that arrived on the market with an innovative (i.e. not wood) lacrosse stick more than 30 years ago.
Goger joined the company in 2005 as product manager.
"Really, it was the idea of what they were doing and how they wanted to do it that attracted me to the company," he said. "That lacrosse was involved was merely a bonus."
Goger knows a bit about lacrosse, having played for Duke nearly two decades ago. And while he enjoys the hands-on part of his work at STX — where he was recently elevated to president after several years as general manager — it's the ability to imagine the future that drives him.
"STX has always been known for listening to the players and responding to what they want," he said. "And lacrosse is changing now as much as it ever has. Players are bigger and stronger, both in the men's and women's game. They're going to need their equipment to change with them, and for us to interpret how it needs to change. Doing that is what shaped this company, and will shape it moving forward."
Goger, who lives in Severna Park, took time away from busy lacrosse season to answer a few questions.
The STX brand was built through innovation. Which of the new products you've worked on during your career there are you most proud of and why?
The [research and development] lab at STX never ceases to amaze me. The team has produced so many "hits" that it's impossible to pick one product of which I'm most proud. In the last few years, the team has launched lacrosse heads that perform better in a wider variety of weather conditions (All Climate Performance technology), lacrosse handles that flex according to the athlete's playing style (Alliance), and a protective line that provides ultra-lightweight protection while not soaking up sweat or rain (High Def Polymer). The real moment of truth, though, is when one of the game's most successful programs, Johns Hopkins University, adopts the gear and competes to win national championships.
Lacrosse continues to grow rapidly across the country, particularly as measured by participation. What are the next steps to ensure the game expands?
Children and adults are attracted to lacrosse for two simple reasons. The sport inspires creativity and allows for fast-paced action. Lacrosse can continue to deliver in these two areas as long as the quality of the coaching and officiating aren't sacrificed for the sake of "growth."
What's the future of STX look like to you? How will it evolve moving forward?
The future of STX looks just like the past. In 1970, STX revolutionized the first synthetic lacrosse stick, which changed the game forever. Since that time, STX has been revolutionizing the game of lacrosse and empowering athletes to perform at their best. We've done this by pushing ourselves to remain curious, to not be blinded by what we think we know, and to be open to others who will help us discover new ideas. We also challenge ourselves to continuously think and act like entrepreneurs. With grit, bold thinking, a get-it-done attitude and measured risk-taking, we're dedicated to not losing our souls to "bigness."
How has your leadership philosophy changed based on what you've learned in your first few weeks as president?
Everyone at STX is continually being challenged with new opportunities, me included with my new title. As a consequence, we must be very clear about our ultimate goals so that we don't lose focus. Our vision is to "Empower Higher Performance." As an employee, you wake every day knowing that the ultimate outcome of your job is to empower the athlete, our business partners and our co-workers to achieve greatness.
What was your most memorable moment on the lacrosse field?
Winning the [Atlantic Coast Conference] championship in 1995 in Chapel Hill, N.C. It was amazing to see a group work together to achieve what seemed to be impossible.
Title: President, STX LLC
Education: Bachelor's degree, Duke University; Master's degree in business administration, University of Maryland, College Park
Residence: Severna Park
Family: Wife, Joanna, and three children: Madeline, 8; Amelia, 6; and Myles, 4
Hobbies: Chasing the kids around the house and neighborhood; coaching soccer, basketball and lacrosseCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun