A SUCCESS IN AND OUT OF THE POOL: TYR FOUNDER AND OLYMPIAN STEVE FURNISS RETIRES
Congratulations to Steve Furniss who retired this week from an illustrious career at TYR Sport, which he cofounded in 1985. Steve was a groundbreaker in the swim industry, building on his knowledge and experience as a world- class, Olympic medal-winning competitor and then working for adidas legend, Horst Dassler, when he first left the pool and entered the business world. Steve was also a great industry leader — he served as Chairman of SGMA’s (now SFIA) Sports Apparel Council, and as a longtime, active SGMA Board and Executive Committee member. He really made a difference in helping SGMA/SFIA move forward. Perhaps most importantly, Steve’s friendly style of persuasion was widely respected and admired, which is critical to accomplish anything in a group of peers and competitors. All the best to Steve!
-Tom Cove, President & CEO of SFIA
Huntington Beach, CA: Today, two-time Olympic swimmer and TYR Sport co-founder Steve Furniss, announced his retirement after 34 years at the company. Furniss launched TYR in 1985 and helped transform the company into one of the world’s leading aquatic performance brands.
Steve began his sports business career in Landersheim, France, working for legendary Adidas owner, Horst Dassler. He then served as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Arena USA before co-founding TYR Sport with swimwear designer Joseph DiLorenzo. From the company’s beginning, TYR has focused on providing the competitive swim market with vibrant, performance driven prints and innovative swim training equipment. Named for the Norse god of warriors and athletes, TYR has grown to exist as one of the world’s most recognizable swimming and triathlon brands relied on by Olympic greats Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, Matt Grevers, Ryan Lochte and Ironman World Champions Mirinda Carfrae and Craig Alexander. TYR products are distributed in more than 30 countries and the company is the second largest performance swimwear brand in North America.
Furniss was named Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” for Orange County in 1994. He is the recipient of the 2014 Endurance Live Industry Award for his contributions to the sports of swimming and triathlon and was inducted into the Aquatic Capital of America Hall of Fame in 2019. He served on the Board of Directors of the Sports and Fitness Industry and on the Executive Committee of its predecessor, the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, from 1999 to 2013. Steve graduated cum laude with a degree in marketing from the University of Southern California.
Furniss credits much of his entrepreneurial success to his years as an athlete. “Failure for me was often a matter of running out of time or the race not being long enough before others quit,” he said. “Fear never dictated my mindset, but persistence did.” Furniss earned a bronze medal in the 200-meter individual medley at the Munich Games in 1972. He also served as co-captain of the dominant 1976 Men’s swimming team, which won 12 out of the 13 men’s swimming events held in Montreal.
Over the course of his swimming career, Steve set two world records, won four NCAA individual titles and helped earn three NCAA team titles while competing for USC. Steve was named to the Pac 12 All-Century Swim Team and was also a two-time All-American Water Polo player. He swam under coaching greats Jon Urbanchek, Tom DeLong, Flip Darr, Peter Daland and Dick Jochums. While swimming for Long Beach Swim Club, Steve, alongside Tim Shaw, Rex Favero and his brother, two-time Olympic gold medalist Bruce Furniss, to set the 800-meter Freestyle Relay World Record. This marks the last time a club team, not a National or Olympic team, set and held a relay world record, a feat not replicated in 44 years.
Married for 43 years, Furniss plans to spend more time with his family and four grandchildren. Furniss leaves an indelible mark on the competitive swimming industry both as both an athlete and entrepreneur.
Contact: Lauren Miyamoto