FUJI Mats Q&A with the Owners
FUJI Mats + Facility Design unites three of the industry’s leading experts in mat flooring and facility design to create a new company that serves professionals in martial arts, MMA, yoga, and more. Joining Jimmy Pedro, U.S. Olympic Judo Athlete and Coach, on the FUJI Mats team are Tom Tschida and Patrick McCarty, veterans of the design, manufacturing and marketing of mats and facility equipment. With more than 50 years experience combined, this team has the product knowledge, industry understanding, and experience in training and competition to help business owners serve their clients with the highest-quality flooring and equipment.
We connected with these three mat experts to learn more about the launch of FUJI Mats – in their own words. First, an introductory background.
Jimmy Pedro, owner of USA Judo National Team Force Training Center at Pedro’s Judo Center, is the current U.S. Olympic Judo Team Head Coach. Pedro coached the U.S. Olympic Judo team at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, helping Olympian Kayla Harrison win America’s first Olympic Gold Medal in Judo. As an athlete, Jimmy was World Judo Champion at 73 kg in 1999, and also won bronze medals in the 1991 and 1995 World Championships. He represented the United States in the 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympic Games, winning bronze medals in 1996 and 2004. Before joining FUJI Sports and launching the FUJI Mats division of the company, Pedro served as the VP of Marketing and Sales for Zebra Mats. Jimmy Pedro is married and has four children.
Tom Tschida has worked in foam fabrication and with foam products for nearly 20 years. He helped build the Zebra Mats sales and operations structure beginning in 1999. Tom has traveled the country attending martial arts events and competitions. A native Minnesotan, Tom enjoys fishing the states 10,000 lakes. He played and coached soccer, and is a fan of Premier League play. Tom is married and had four children and three grandchildren.
Patrick McCarty has helped dozens of gym owners – including martial arts studios, MMA gyms, and yoga studios – with design services. He worked in sales for Zebra Mats for six years. Patrick has visited martial arts dojos, MMA gyms and yoga studios nationwide. He trains in Jiu-Jitsu as a blue belt, and also trains in Crossfit. Outside of the gym, Patrick loves boating and fishing on Minnesota lakes and is learning to fly fish. He’s currently building a black walnut desk with an MMA-inspired design.
Q: Why did you start FUJI Mats + Facility Design?
Jimmy Pedro: We launched FUJI Mats as a totally separate division of FUJI Sports. Mats are not just another product that FUJI Sports is offering; but, rather FUJI Mats is a separate division of our company where we have assembled the most knowledgeable team of mat experts to serve the needs of professional martial arts school owners. I personally demand high quality because my own Olympic and world class athletes train on FUJI Mats. It’s vital that FUJI Mats help all martial artists train safely, and give school owners a proper return on their investment. As owner of a USA Judo National Training Center, I know the level of quality demanded by gym and dojo owners for both products and service.
Our connection to FUJI Sports is a vital component of this new business. I’ve had a relationship with Lia Hatashita (owner of FUJI Sports) for many years, and have great respect for the brand and its heritage in martial arts. I’m proud to bring that background to the mat business, along with a great team of partners and some new ideas for professionals in martial arts, MMA, yoga and fitness. It’s much more than just a brand extension where FUJI puts its name on some mats. We’re creating a company that will provide improved products, greater value, and superior service to these industries.
Patrick McCarty: We see a great opportunity to serve gym owners with flooring that delivers a better training experience over a long period. FUJI Mats is focused on delivering that long-term value. We’ll also be able to serve business owners with facility design and equipment, as well as pro shop assistance and gear through FUJI Sports. We have a unique approach in providing this one-stop shop for business owners. We’re like business consultants, helping gym owners build the best business they can. I love that element of it. It’s more than just sales transactions.
Q: You call it “FUJI Mats + Facility Design.” How far can you go with “design?”
Jimmy Pedro: For many of our customers, “facility design” is simple and they won’t need our design expertise to fill a rectangular training space with new FUJI Mats. But for all business owners, we provide a trusted sales experience and a relationship. We will get to know their business and the particulars of their training services so we can provide them with the right tools to succeed. That often turns into design service that helps them place the right FUJI Mats in the proper places for best operation of their business. For example, do they need two training areas, or one large area. Should they separate programs and classes or not. We can help them plan, purchase and install a wide variety of other necessary equipment such as wall pads, bag racks and more.
Patrick McCarty: We ask the right questions so we can help each business owner build the ideal facility. Our target is their success. If we help business owners succeed, that’s good for us in the end, too. Helping gym owners invest in the right equipment, and then assisting them with proper installation, that’s my favorite part of this business.
When I can help a passionate business owner deliver a better training environment for his or her clients, that is exciting for me. I love to learn about the connections these business owners have to a martial arts community, or a yoga community. That passion and their expertise drives me to provide the best service I possibly can to every customer who calls. FUJI is dedicated to supporting this business community by providing products and services that solve their problems and help them grow.
Q: Describe the team behind FUJI Mats + Facility Design.
Jimmy Pedro: FUJI Mats will succeed because of the team that we’re building right now. Tom Tschida has in-depth understanding of the product and how it is manufactured. He has years of experience working with foam and with mats specifically. With him helping guide our U.S. manufacturing, FUJI is able to produce exceptional mats. Patrick McCarty brings a passion for serving business owners, an ability to design training spaces, and a love of martial arts that makes him well respected in the industry. I’ve spent my life training, competing and coaching martial arts, along with a career in sales and marketing, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else or with another group. Plus, the backing of FUJI Sports and Lia Hatashita adds even more credibility to what we’re doing.
Tom Tschida: We have the support of a strong brand like FUJI. We have a high-quality manufacturing operation in America. And we have a team with deep experience in training, design, operations, customer service and more. I’m excited to be working with Jimmy and Patrick, and to put my industry experience to work right now to produce better mats.
Patrick McCarty: Together, we’re like a group of friends working to grow a company. And Jimmy’s expertise, his connections, his intensity, it all makes FUJI Mats very exciting right now. We’re all eager to serve this martial arts community in new ways.
Q: What are you working on right now that you’re enjoying most?
Jimmy Pedro: There is always a lot to do when building a business, and one thing I’m enjoying right now is testing FUJI Mats at my studio, Pedro’s Judo Center in Wakefield, Mass. It’s a studio where all sorts of athletes train, from kids and families, to Olympians. I enjoy being there any time, but especially now as we develop FUJI Mats.
Tom Tschida: Jimmy has worked with FUJI Sports for many years, but I’m just getting to know the company, and it’s exciting to learn about FUJI’s heritage and about the respect for the company and its people. What I enjoy most right now is working with our manufacturing group. The U.S. operation is full of capability to help FUJI Mats deliver the highest quality mats, and I’m excited to continue that and develop new products, too.
Patrick McCarty: It’s very exciting to build a brand. While FUJI Sports has a respected brand name that we’ll build from, we’re still adding to that with our own products and services. That’s ongoing. What I’m enjoying right now are the conversations with gym owners about their businesses, and how FUJI Mats can help them. If we listen closely to these customers, and stay focused on doing things right, we’ll prove that FUJI Mats is synonymous with quality and durability, and that people can trust us as a beneficial provider of products and services.