Roland DG opened the contest to its customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) last year, bringing in expert judges that would review and rate submissions based on four criteria: creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and inspiration.
Ultimately, the three judges chose the winner from 23 finalists who all had their own unique stories to tell. Geographically the finalists’ entries ranged from Sweden to the Canary Islands, and they included jewelry designers, vehicle wrappers, home décor experts and, in the case of Peak UK, makers of highly technical sports uniforms for world-class canoe and kayak racers.
Former canoe slalom athlete Pete Astles founded Peak UK in 1990 while working in a kayak shop. Not satisfied with the clothing available to race in at the time, Astles started making his own. It didn’t take long before his garments attracted attention from the kayak racing community, and with that he opened his own company: The Peak UK Kayaking Company.
Starting out with a loan from his father, Astles bought materials and sewing equipment—which he learned to use as he went along—and in 2012 he shortened the name to Peak UK and moved his business into a new facility in the Derwent Valley in Derbyshire, UK. The location was significant: A World Heritage Site, the Derwent Valley has a 200-year history in textiles. According to Roland DG, it was there that Richard Arkwright founded the world’s first modern textile factory.
In was in that setting that Astles began producing his colorful, aerodynamic and durable uniforms, using a large-format Roland Texart RT-640 sublimation printer and a Roland CAMM-1 GX-24 vinyl cutter as his go-to workhorses.
The factory opened in time to produce custom sports gear for kayakers and canoeists competing in the London 2012 Olympic Games in London—where several achieved worldwide glory.
“Our great friends and team members won gold, silver and bronze medals wearing that gear,” Astles says. “Our custom kayaking gear is now a huge part of our business. It’s our flagship identity that sets us apart from the rest of our industry. Roland helps enable this.”
He continues to make canoe and kayak clothing not just for Great Britain’s team but for other teams as well. His gear was also used at the Rio de Janeiro games in 2016.
“Pete Astles of Peak UK is determined, focused, and passionate about making a difference to a sport he clearly loves,” says Gillian Montanaro, Roland DG EMEA's head of marketing and one of the three judges for the contest. “His story really had it all.”
Pete says the Peak UK team is ‘blown away’ by the award. Roland DG’s prize for winning was an unforgettable trip to either Thailand, Iceland or Florida, which he’ll have to choose from.
The judges were so excited with the entries that they also handed out four other Roland Hero Awards.
A “Judges’ Special Mention” prize has been awarded to Italy’s Gemanco Design, a company that produces custom-printed wallpapers, wall stickers and amazing resin mosaics.
Three companies were named “Highly Commended Heroes:” In Your Face from the Canary Islands in Spain, which makes windsurfing graphics; Dutch custom kiteboard maker Lieuwe Boards; and UK-based Nutmeg Studio, which specializes in wall decals.
Click here to watch a video about Peak UK.