In 1992, you could purchase a gallon of gas for under $1.00, Bill Clinton became president of the United States, and the Mall of America opened. 1992 was also the year Matt McPherson started Mathews Archery. In 1992, the phrases “Catch us if you can” and “Speed without the kick” were hardly known by anyone. Today, Mathews Archery is the most successful and most recognizable bow company in the world. Mathews is to archery what Harley Davidson is to motorcycles. Matt McPherson is an amazing engineer and marketing guru who understands what bowhunters and archers want in a bow. He delivers it year after year. A lot has changed at Mathews Archery in the last twenty years. The company started with two employees and today has hundreds of employees. The things that haven’t changed are Matt McPherson’s passion for archery, his love for Jesus Christ and his desire to change the world of archery and the world. I interviewed Matt a few weeks ago about Mathews Archery then….and now. Below is a glimpse into the world of Mathews Archery. You will discover how it began and where it is going.
The man behind the solo-cam design…Matt McPherson
Twenty years ago, did you think the Solocam would change archery the way it did?
MM-I did. Let’s say once upon a time everyone was driving five wheeled cars and then someone came along with a simpler car that only had four wheels. Everyone would look at that and go wow! The four-wheeled car is simpler and more functional. This is what happened with the invention of the Solocam. It is simpler and better than other cam designs.
Did you ever dream Mathews would be where it is today twenty years ago?
MM-No, I didn’t. I thought we would be building the best bows in the world but because they are the best, they would be more expensive than other bows. Since they would be more expensive, I didn’t think we would be very big. My goal has always been to build the best top-end bows available but I didn’t think for a second we could become the largest bow company.
Other than the Solocam, which archery innovation that you developed do you consider the most significant? Why?
MM-Without a doubt, parallel limb technology. Parallel limbs on a bow do a tremendous job canceling out vibration. We pioneered that technology.
How many years was Mathews in business before it really took off?
MM-The first and second year were tough. By the third year, things really started taking off and we started selling a lot of bows. Is it true that Mathews started in a garage? MM-Mathews was started in a steel building similar to a small body shop. When we started Mathews, it was just Joel Maxfield and I. The building was located in Austin, Minnesota. What is interesting is that a few years ago, I got the urge to go back and see it because that is where Mathews got its’ start. So, I went back. Shortly after I returned, the building was blown down by a tornado. I am glad I went back when I did. The square footage of that original building was roughly 3,000 square feet. Today, Mathews operates in several buildings that make up over 180,000 square feet.
The all new Mathews Helim is the culmination of 20 years worth of bow technology all wraped up into one unique package.
What years did you make the Inc 500 list?
MM-We made the list in 1998 and 1999. We almost made the list again in 2000. The Inc 500 list is a list of the 500 fastest growing privately held companies in America. The companies on the list are often from the software industry or telecommunications. We were the first company from the archery industry to make the list.
There have been many bow companies over the years who were number one for a while but then faded away. Why do you think Mathews has been number one for so long? What sets Mathews apart from the competition?
MM-We have always pushed the limits of what can be built. People have seen our innovations and continue to come back. Today, we are still pushing the limits. I also believe we are successful because God continues to have favor on this company.
Roughly how many employees does Mathews have?
Where do you see Mathews twenty years from now?
MM-I believe twenty years from now, we will be doing the same thing we are doing today. We will continue to be innovative in even better ways than today.
Do you think bows can be advanced much further?
MM-There is always going to be room for advancements but as far as performance goes, we have about hit the peak. How do I know that? We have bows today that are 89% efficient at five-grains per pound. We can’t go much higher. There are mathematical limits and we have almost reached them. That doesn’t mean we can’t make bows better; we can. The performance end has just about peaked but there are still things that can be done to bows to make them more ergonomic and user-friendly.
It will be interesting and exciting watching Mathews grow over the next twenty years. Can you imagine what bows will look like in twenty years?