2020 marks Premier Equestrian’s 20th year in business.
The company has grown from a small basement office into North America’s leading provider of equestrian surface products and services. The remarkable story is defined by innovation, marketing savvy, and the spirit of competition.
Like most companies, Premier Equestrian started with a need. Heidi Zorn had moved from riding hunter/jumpers into dressage and needed a dressage arena to train her mount, Serrano. After shopping around Heidi realized it would be much less expensive to build her own. That idea was The Classic Arena, Premier’s very first product.
Enter Mark Neihart, long-time associate of Zorn, and the two founded a company called Premier Dressage, llc. This was the seed of today’s larger and more diversified company. “The first years were spent attending every dressage show we could find,” says Neihart, Premier’s CEO, “Heidi and I were on the road constantly, showing our dressage products to everyone we could.”
The national dressage community responded eagerly to the new products. “We spent a lot of that time on product development,” said Heid Zorn, Premier’s President. “We had the audience and the demand, so we worked on expanding our product line.” Soon Premier had dressage letters, new arena designs, and the company moved into a facility for fabrication and distribution.
Then it happened, Serrano, Heidi’s long-time horse and friend, became lame. It was the event that began investigation into arena footing. “It’s a long story,” recalls Zorn, “Serrano’s lameness showed me the critical importance of arena footing. That was fifteen years ago. Had I known then what I know now Serrano would not have retired early. It was all footing related.”
The deep dive into footing was a journey weaving through partnerships, product innovations, trial and error, and small successes. “We started with our customer base of small, backyard riders,” said Neihart. “While our competition was chasing after the big jobs, we focused on the dedicated amateur riders. Looking back, this was good for us; first, we gained a very diverse experience with all kinds of arenas, conditions, and materials. Second, we learned from the ground up about how to design the perfect footing solution for any situation, large or small, high budget or low budget. Today, 80% of our customers are still the small farm or backyard riders; that’s our core.”
This year Premier Equestrian was chosen to supply products for the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. This is a grand testament to the expertise and partnerships developed over the years. “We are now a major supplier to large institutional horse show facilities,” said Zorn, “our products are widely accepted as the best of class and our service gets accolades. Still, our hearts remain with the everyday rider in need of a quality product at a reasonable price. Those people are why we get up every morning, them and their horses. It’s still all about the horses.”