Hand Made

#020 Iris Skis – Keeping Skis Functional Yet Elegant with Eric Hegreness

Hey everyone, thanks for tuning in to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast for this episode with Eric Hegreness of Iris Skis.

Iris Skis are a really unique and beautiful ski crafted by Eric right here in Boulder, CO.  It was great to meet Eric and have a chance to hear the story behind Iris Skis.

Online, you can find Iris Skis at IrisSkis.com  and on and Instagram @iris_skis.

If you can leave a review on iTunes, that really helps get the word out about the show and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, apple podcast, Stitcher, or however you like to listen to podcasts and signup for our email list as well.

Thanks a lot.

 


Subscribe to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast – on iTunes


Show Notes

[03:30] Building skis, building the tools to build skis

[05:00] Designed with Colorado conditions in mind

[09:30] Collaborative attitude among the Colorado ski makers

[12:00] Specifics: The models and what’s coming in the future

[13:45] Product ambassadors – From ski techs to Austin Porzak

[18:45] Where to find Iris Skis

 


Relevant Links

Iris Skis

Rocky Mountain Underground

Folsom Skis

Romp Skis

Austin Porzak

Ski RMNP

Wolf Creek Ski Area

 


Related Episodes

Romp Skis

Meier Skis

Venture Snowboards

Jessica Beacom

 


Transcript

 

So here we go. Hope you enjoy this, my conversation with Eric from Iris Skis.

All right, Eric, thanks for having me over in the shop, man. It’s really amazing to be here and see where you’re making these unbelievably beautiful skis, man.

Absolutely. Thanks for having me. I’m a big fan of podcasts and I’ve listened to a lot of your podcast, so this is exciting.

Yeah, it’s awesome to connect with people in a, you know, one of the, I don’t always get to see a manufacturing type facility though, and that’s really, you know, the first thing that differentiates you from other people is you’re doing this all yourself and including first yet to build the place, to make it first you had to build the tools to make this stuff in the place before you can even make the, uh, the product. So what, you know, to me that’s probably a big differentiator for you.

What’s different about your skis?  So why don’t you just kinda walk us through what’s, you know, what’s different about them and why you know, why you’re doing this.

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Yeah, for sure. Like for me the biggest part is being hands on. Like I love doing what I do. I love building skis, I love building the tools to build skis. Um, so, you know, there’s a lot of other people that will build a brand and have someone else build their skis. I’m going at a much smaller rate because I want to be hands on as much as I can on, to be involved with every step. So when I build a ski I’m going to see it from start to finish. Um, and that’s been one of the biggest, you know, I guess priorities or goals I’ve had with building iris skis is that like, you know, to be hands on, to be a ski company that actually builds their skis.

Uh, so that’s. Yeah. And it ends up showing in the product, right? I mean it’s just a hand built literally from a start to finish. And we were talking a little bit about this, right. You know, when I kinda came in, not only is it hand built you’re really kind of tailor making it almost for, for our region, like the ski conditions that we have here in Colorado. Um, why don’t you kind of talk a little bit more about that, like the actual model itself and what’s inspired, you know, the shape, the construction and our performance. Yeah, definitely. So as you know, skiing Colorado, uh, our conditions are really unique. Um, you know, and so the first ski I really went after as I have the ski model called the [inaudible] or the crossover one. Oh five. And the idea of the name of that crossover, meaning that, you know, it can skeet in different, uh, you know, it can ski powder and he can ski hard pack.

I wanted to ski. That is perfect for our Colorado conditions. When you go up to the mountains here, oftentimes will be blessed with a foot of powder. You know, if you’re skiing inbounds two, three hours later, that powder is gone and it’s still a beautiful day. That’s a lot of fun to ride, but you don’t want to be stuck on your wide, your widest ski. So I built a ski to be really fun and playful in the powder. It’s got a lot of early rise to 100 and 500 foot, uh, which is good enough to get you up out of, out of powder, but it’s not too wide. You can still hit moguls. I actually take the ski and the Train Park, which is definitely a little bit bigger for most skis in the park, but it’s really flexible and fun. I came from like a freestyle background.

Uh, so my skis are really soft and playful. Um, so that’s Kinda the main model I have. And then I also have a front side ski which is kind of the park ski and Just Criminals Ski, uh, from when you go up there and you weren’t blessed with that foot of powder and just slowly working out different models. Right now I have two models with three sizes and working on a third model this year which will have three sizes as well as well. Awesome lightweight touring stuff. So. Oh Nice. And uh, you know, the construction itself, I mean the look of them is so unique because of that metal top sheet, but it’s functional as well. I mean, I was kinda reading some of the articles about it that you’ve, you’ve had out there and uh, you know, why don’t you tell us a little bit about that, like the, the combination of the wood and the metal.

I mean, it’s beautiful and it’s super unique and uh, but there’s functionality to it as well. Yeah, definitely. I appreciate that. Um, you know, one thing as working as a ski tech over the years, I’ve gotten to play with a lot of skis. I’ve gotten a ride on a lot of skis and uh, one thing I really liked was the Teton all layer a that goes in a lot of skis. And so I started playing with that. Originally I was doing all wood top sheets and I was finding they’re kind of getting chipped up and if people after a couple of seasons weren’t taking care of those skis, uh, the varnish would wear away and things like that. And I was like, well, why don’t I just bring that Teton a layer from the inside of the ski to the top of the ski? And it gave a lot of durability this gate and then it just out, you know, secondhand after building.

And I realized, wow, this actually looks really cool and unique. One thing kind of from the start of building whiskeys was I was like, I don’t want to look like everyone else out there. A lot of times when you go skiing, it’s, everything’s like fluorescent orange or neon green and you know, it’s like you’re out on the mountain and it’s beautiful and you’re in and then snow. And then we have it littered with just like caution tape look and skis. And so I really wanted, like, I was like, you know, I want something that’s simple and elegant and uh, you know, I think that would look beautiful itself. I don’t necessarily need to add a graphic to that. Uh, so, you know, that’s kind of the design behind it. It’s just bringing a kind of the metal and the wood and letting that simple characteristics make the ski look beautiful on their own.

And they, each ehr kind of individually when you get to ski, it’s going to look a little different than someone else’s ski because it’s going to have different woodgrain that’s interesting. So I didn’t realize that that material was actually common in skis. It’s just hidden. I mean, it’s not common in all the skis, but uh, yeah, for sure. Okay, cool. Another thing we kind of touched on a little bit was you’ve got this great space but it always hasn’t. It hasn’t always been this way. You’ve really kind of been through the ringer and you’ve been through a lot of different variations of where your shop was. Um, you want, we don’t have to get into like all of the war stories because I think that’s a common thing. Like, you know, you want to start a business, you don’t always stay in the same spot for 20 years.

But um, you did mention that it’s been really interesting your, your interactions with other kind of like small batch craft makers out there and you know, how supportive is that been like, what’s it been like to be kind of starting off in this space in Colorado? Yeah, it’s, it’s really amazing. Uh, you know, I thought building skis that, you know, when I reached out to other ski builders, they wouldn’t really be wanting to share too much information, uh, just because you know, they want to protect their product. But, you know, as I learned and as I, I kind of grew with the industry, I realized a lot of these guys are out there to see you do well to, you know, I want to see other small batch ski builders doing really well because that makes us all look good. And uh, I’ve had a time where I’ve talked with rocky mountain underground.

I’ve talked with fulsome and several other, just small. There’s some other ski builders who would just one guy building skis kinda like me, who through instagram will reach out, you know, right now I’m playing with a new material and playlists, plone and foam and I posted on instagram and then this guy messaged me and he was like, Oh, I’ve been doing this for a couple of years, here’s what I’ve been doing and it’s great. Gives me a leg up or I can, you know, he’s prototype this 10, 15 times already, so now I can start playing with what he’s been doing and it’s been amazing and I’ve, you know, don’t have as much knowledge as some of these guys who have 10 years of experience. But it’s been cool for me to be able to give back to some other people too and help them with their CNC stuff, which is something I have a lot of knowledge with a and that’s been, it’s been really fun and I’d be like, I don’t know, really excited to be about a community that’s so supportive of each other.

Yeah. And it looks like, uh, you know, speaking of your CNC background and things like that, from what I saw, it looks like you started off with skateboards and now you’re making these, like the complexity level is through the roof. To be honest, it always started with skis. When I first started I was working in someone’s garage and they had, they wanted to start escape business and they just, it was a trust fund kid and he got an idea, I need this quit. He had all this material. So I was like, well, I can build skateboards easily while I’m learning the craft of building skis because building skis is a much more complex. So for the first two, three years I was building skateboards along with skis. And last year I was actually able to sell off all the skate stuff and just focus on, you know, what I love the most, you know, I used to skateboard a lot, but now I’m, you know, it’s all about skiing for me.

So. Yeah. Right. And you’re, um, you’re. One of the things that differentiates you, I’m a little bit is, you know, I had the chance to meet with and speak with the guys at Romp Skis and they’ve taken the approach of like the full custom, you know, and that’s what they’re trying to do and they’ve got the operation kind of built to support that and they were really awesome guys to speak with what you’re, you’re taking a little bit of a different approach, right? You’re, you’ve got your models. Yeah. A couple of two, three sizes and uh, and what’s, you know, what kind of drove that decision? Sure. Um, I, I don’t want to say that like skiers don’t know what they want, but sometimes skiers mill, they know really what they want their ski to do a and you know, I really wanted to focus on building a couple of ski that do really, really well at certain things.

So when someone comes to me who’s got a race background, I don’t have a race ski that I’ll be honest with them and also just other companies and be like, you know, I didn’t come from a race background, my skis and aren’t focused on that, but I have a couple models that are really great at x, you know, and for a lot of guys who came from a freestyle background or a lot of people who just go up and have fun on the mountain inbounds, my skis are perfect for that. They don’t, they’re not as aggressive of a ski, you know, it’s fun on the jumps, but it’s easy also to take just carving turns down the mountain on. So yeah. Well I think if you listened to that interview, you’ll find that they agree on how much the skiers is actually know what they want.

There’s a lot of guiding people through that process and it’s a hands on process. So it’s totally different than. Oh yeah. And I think it’s awesome. I think it’s great that they’re offering that totally. It’s a cool service. I think it’s, you know, I, I’m, I’m really behind, you know, people offering that custom option as well. Sure. Yeah, yeah, no, absolutely. People are going to want different things, but that’s a, that’s really awesome men. And uh, one of the things that seems like a, you’ve been able to team up with some, some good guys who are putting these things through the ringer for you, including some amazing local skiers. And uh, let’s talk a little bit about that. Like what kind of fee, you know, who these guys are, what kind of feedback you’re able to get from guys who were doing this stuff in their skis.

And I’ll let you kind of elaborate. Sure. I mean, the, the first guys who were taking my skis out a lot was, you know, I was working a lot of ski shops in town and it’d be the skeet tax and ski tax. I have a great knowledge of skis because they see everything and they see every kind of dlm and every kind of edge issue and they can also get out on a ski and no, is it the tune that’s affecting how this is skiing or is it the, it’s itself. And so those guys put it through a lot of ringer the first couple years when I wasn’t actually selling to the public yet. And that was great. And then last year I brought on my first ski ambassador and that’s Austin Poor Zack who is just an awesome big mountain skier, a that’s local. He, he’s actually like the flat irons here in boulder that everyone’s familiar with.

And he was the first one to make a descent down one of the flat irons. He’s Al also all of the Colorado fourteeners. And uh, it’s awesome to have a guy like that who has so much back country experience who can kind of bring in extra knowledge and just really put the hours in on these skis. And he didn’t get to that level of skin by, you know, just starting off. I skied on every different kind of ski from a million different brands and so I’m sure like the feedback that you can offer as we’ve, we’ve spent time just waxing up skis in his garage looking at different models and I’d be like, I really like this about this scheme, but I wish it was a little less heavier, you know, and just go through different models and we’re like, okay, I think we can make that, let’s, let’s start focusing on getting there.

So we’re designing a really unique ski this year together, a really lightweight ski that hopefully it’ll be ready by end of season or next season as well as a really fat ski. That’s going to be a lot of fun. So Nice. Yeah. All right. So those were the ones to look forward to going to be to me. Exciting. Cool. And, uh, and, and while we’re on the subject, like not only is he skied the fort teenagers, he’s the current project is to ski all of the peaks and Rocky Mountain National Park, which is really. That was one thing that really got me excited when we first started talking that he came to me with a project he’s working on, he’s passionate about. And once he started talking about the project I was like, Hey, this is really cool. So there’s, I think there’s 50 peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park and I guess I think his grandpa was the first person to climb all of those peaks and he wants to be the first guy to ski all of those peaks, American Mountain National Park.

So he’s skeed now 40 of them, which it’s a big feat. Like some of those ones you have to hike. It might take you a day sometimes to get out to that where it is and then get up and ski and he’s had to work with the, you know, the ranges up there and get permission. And he’s only got, I think like six or eight left. Uh, you can and you can check it out at rocky or ski, Rocky Mountain National Park. And uh, he’s been doing these last mountains on the cx one. Oh, five. And our new version of the ski, he’ll be doing the last couple of peaks on, which will be really exciting. Yeah. That’s amazing. Should finish up this year. Weather permitting. Yeah. Yeah. And I think it says a lot, man, not to digress into, you know, the story is amazing. Um, but I’m, I’m sure, I mean he is not going to head out into the back country with a, like a day approach and with something that he’s not confident in.

And so I think it really speaks to the quality of your ski and what he’s experienced so far and uh, you know, it’s uh, it just really says a lot about what you’re putting out there, man. It’s really impressive. What about you man? What are your favorite a testing grounds around here? Sure. So, you know, I grew up in Ohio, which is not in, not in the mountain, you know, mountains at all and it’s like, it’s like slanted parking lots. And, uh, when I first started skiing I was really into the freestyle scene because in Ohio, you know, after a couple of years riding, you can ski everything backwards with your eyes closed practically because it ruins, it gets so easy. So I started hitting handrails, we’d gotten to the city and hit handrails, hit jumps. And that was a lot of fun. Did that all through college, did a lot of events.

Uh, and then coming out here, um, my perspective changed a lot because I’m like, wow, so much more is available to me. And uh, I really love getting into the powder. I’m definitely the last five, six years is just whenever I can find some patterns, get out into that. And I love skiing in the trees. That’s been like one of my, this has been my favorite ski to take into the trees. It’s pivots really well and that’s just like one of my favorite sections in the mountain to get on. So yeah. And, um, hopefully, you know, I’ve done a little bit of back country and I’m trying to get a lot more experience over the next two years. So yeah. Where’s a, where are you getting out normally? Like specifically, do you have any everywhere. It depends on which path. I guess so yeah, yeah, yeah.

No, that’s awesome. Well, where can people find you were working, they find your skis, how can they, you know, check them out and what’s the best way to get their hands on these things? Well, I’m super small so you know, I’m not available in a lot of locations, you know, uh, I have some skis down at Wolf Creek ski resort, which is where my wife actually grew up and I have my father in law actually is a ski instructor up there. He’s sometimes let people take, take skis up for me there. And then the best way is to go through me, you know, one advantage of me being small as you know, you can just reach out to me. The best way to contact me is rarely through instagram. You know, I’ll just, I’m willing to share any information and I’ve, I’ve met up with a lot of people either at the mountain if they live away and be like, Hey, you can take these out.

We’ll meet up at the end of the day, you know, maybe have a beer or whatever, talk about them. People also come right here into this shop and check stuff out and taking them out for a couple of days. So yeah. Gotcha. Yeah. Well that’s how I found you. So, uh, yeah, it seems to be working to try to share a lot of the experience of developing the skis, you know, through, through the story because to me that that’s my passion is building an excellent, you know, experienced building a ski that delivers an excellent experience. Yeah. Well it’s funny, I was talking to a friend of mine who actually was the first person I interviewed on this podcast and her name’s Jessica Pika and she’s a food blogger and 10 in any way. She’s a big skier and we were just chatting and she was asking me if I was doing the podcast, you know, I was like, yeah, she’s like, you gotta talk to this guy at Iris Skis.

Uh, she’s like a huge instagrammer, you know, and so I was like, you know, it’s funny that you say that because I’m going to go meet with them this week. So, uh, I mean it was totally random. It was really awesome. So you’re. So what you’re doing is standing out man, and I think it’s because like the product is just amazing and so unique. Man. It’s just really, really cool. Um, if, you know, you should think about making a snowboard. I don’t know how many. You don’t know how many times I’ve been told that especially because know miss skateboards before, you know, I’m very focused on skiing because that’s primarily what I do. I do. I go out and snowboard a couple of times a year and I do see like maybe some day down the road just for the fun of it building a couple of snowboards.

Probably split boards. Yeah, exactly. All right, well let me know when you’re, when you get like, so you’re busy and you’ve got the system all down to take on the side project, which I’m sure is the last thing you need right now. No more side project. Exactly. Well, awesome man. We’ll, you know, thanks for telling us your story. I uh, I really appreciate you making the time and it’s really awesome to finally meet you and uh, you know, one of the last things I like to ask people before, you know, we kind of let things go is, so who would you like to hear on this podcast? Like who’s inspiring you? Uh, you know, and it could be anywhere in Colorado like. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I mean, I think, you know, Austin’s one I think is an awesome person to talk to you because he’s got so much knowledge of Colorado in Colorado skiing and I think that you’d have a lot of fun talking to him. Oh yeah, that’d be my suggestion. Also, Malala, I’ll definitely reach out to them or maybe have you, uh, put us in touch or something for sure if you don’t mind. Yeah, it will definitely make that happen. Cool. All right, well thanks a lot man. And um, you know, like I said, like, you know, the links to everything, you know, we’ll be able to find and we’ll, you know, we’ll make sure everybody knows exactly where to find a, find your stuff. But, uh, thanks for making the time. I appreciate it. Yeah, thanks for coming over.

All right, there we have it. Eric Hegreness of Iris Skis, know, cool guy making a great product and a, so as we mentioned, all the links to find Eric and get in touch with him, will be in the show notes and we’ll have the links to all the other partners other things that he kind of mentions in the episode in there as well. And so yeah, hope you enjoyed it.

Please subscribe on Itunes or stitcher or whatever you use to listen to podcasts. You can also sign up to be on our mailing list and please leave a review on itunes if you get a chance. It really helps us get found.

So thanks a lot and we’ll be talking to you soon.

 

#009 Venture Snowboards – Finding The Soul of a Snowboard Company with Klem and Lisa Branner

Venture Snowboards

Venture Snowboards on Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast

 

Thanks for tuning in to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast.

So for this episode I made it out to Silverton, Colorado to visit Klem and Lisa Branner of Venture Snowboards.  

First of all, I had never been to Silverton before so it was really exciting.  Not only was the drive from Ouray just spectacular, I also took the time the drive out to the infamous Silverton Mountain Ski Area, which of course is a double chair lift and a couple of old busses.  No lodge or anything like that.

It was super cool to have a chance to wander around Silverton.  It’s just everything an old western mountain town is supposed to be.

As far as meeting Lisa and Klem, the founders of Venture Snowboards, it was really just a highlight of my trip.  You just couldn’t meeting cooler people, really creating and living the dream out in Silverton.

We get into some history of Venture and how it grew from basically a garage operation to a factory in Silverton, but don’t let the word factory fool you.  These boards are completely hand made.  They have just been able to create a process to ensure a product of the absolutely highest quality – A fact that isn’t lost on guides all over the state.

We talk about new products and what they are riding this year as well as some awesome events to look forward to, notably a winter kickoff party with Ska brewing in Durango on November 4.

Online, you can find Venture at venturesnowboards.com and on instagram @venturesnow.

And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to find these guys or anyone else we talk about in the show notes.

Alright, so here we go, my conversation with Klem and Lisa Branner of Venture Snowboards..

 


Subscribe to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast – on iTunes


 

Show Notes

[2:45] What brought you to Colorado / Silverton?

[6:10] Venture moved to Silverton in 2007, how that move has helped hone the brand

[9:30] Having a business in Silverton

[10:45] It’s all about the core

[12:45] Product development, backcountry testing

[14:00] Upcoming events – Demo days, Splitfest, Avy Level 1

[19:19] Partners speak to quality

[21:40] What’s new – Why they are riding the Paragon / Oracle this season

[24:50] Rough Cut Series – Showing the process

[27:00] Ska Brewing – Season kickoff party

 

Selected Links from the Episode

Connect with Venture Snowboards:

On the Web: venturesnowboards.com

On Facebook or Instagram @venturesnow.

Youtube: Rough Cut Series

Events:

Season Kickoff Party with Ska Brewing – Nov 4, 2017

Avy 1 for Splitboarders – Feb 9-11 & March 9-11, 2018

Spring Fling – March 31, 2018

Splitfest Silverton – April 12-15, 2018

Beartooth Sessions – May 25-28, 2018

Demo Tour – Stay tuned!

 

Partners / References:

Ska Brewing

Silverton Mountain

Silverton Mountain Guides

Silverton Avalanche School

AIARE Level 1

Irwin Guides

Silverton, Colorado

Farmington Hill

 


Transcript

 

Lisa, Klem thank you so much for taking some time to sit down talk with me about Venture snowboards. But before we kind of get into the boards themselves in you know what people are actually right now and what they’re coming here for.

What brought you to Colorado? I’m not exactly sure where you are from. If you’re from Colorado but. And then specifically how do you get up in Silverton and what made you aside from the beautiful view. Like what made you want to kind of put some roots down in Silverton.

The beautiful view that’s definitely part of it. Yeah we’re we’re not from Colorado. We’ve been in Colorado for like 20 years now. I came originally to Fort Collins and then Denver after that and then Bayfield and finally Silverton then the excuse to come to Colorado we had met in New York.

The excuse to come here was grad school but really we came for the mountains. Clem’s been a diehard snowboarder since he was in his early teens and had been out here on family vacations and just had it in his head that this is where he wanted to be. And so officially the reason was grad school but unofficially it was to get into the mountains. And we’ve been here ever since.

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Yeah. Nice. Yeah. I mean I think you know the first conversation I’ve had this week for people that there’s another guy the guys from Romp. I think they started New Hampshire came out to Western and it was like I just wanted to get to the mountains.  So schools are a great opportunity to make that kind of move. And then once you’re in Silverton you know what is it about this town that made you want to stay because it sounds like you’re slowly like kind of making your way to this southwestern part of the state.

Yeah we had our eye on this part of the state for a while and it just took us a while to figure out how to actually make it happen even in the days when we were living up in Fort Collins and Denver area. We would watch the snow forecast and when we saw it was puking in southwest Colorado I’d call Klem from work and I’d be like load up the car we’re going and we’d come down and ride and Wolf Creek was actually the place that we would go the most.

At that point in time but as we started coming down here and getting more familiar with the other ski areas and learned about Silverton mountain opening up that was kind of the clincher that clam just latched on to that idea. You know getting to know these mountains better. And the idea of this untracked terrain and big mountain terrain that you could get to with just that single chairlift and lots of hiking that was that was the appeal.

And yeah we bounced from place to place until we could figure out how to make it work I had been working a day job for years and when we made the leap down to Bayfield because we couldn’t afford Durango. And prices have only gotten worse since then. We were you know scouting the area and trying to figure out if we could make Silverton actually happen. And when the company got to a point where it was sustaining itself enough that we could both work for it full time better when we took the plunge.

So and you can just look out the window and see why. And you know I appreciate you taking the time to just show me around and give me the tour and one of the things that we were talking about was that. Venture actually started in 1999 when you were still out in Fort Collins and you were. But really when you got here and this is when you were able to I guess kind of step it up and get the real manufacturing process in place.

Exactly.  That was kind of the jump from just being in the garage and basement and all that kind of stuff to being in a real industrial space and be able to have employees and make noise and turn you into or make more of a factory than a home workshop kind of thing. Right.

And that was like 2007. You said you’ve been here 10 years. It’s grown.

Yeah yeah. We’ve been in Silverton just about a decade now.

That’s awesome. So. You know is that the moment I had it written down here you know when you go through this entrepreneurial journey it’s you know high highs and lows and all sorts of things like that. Was that was that moment when you were scouting certain was that and I guess you had built Venture Snowboards up to a certain kind of capacity at that point or was that the moment where you were like yeah like this is really kind of happening we don’t need other jobs and things like that is this how it happened before that

It was when we moved from Denver to be a field that was kind of OK. We are doing this for real. But financially we weren’t there for it wasn’t really a viable business.

Want but not always when we really just said OK this is this is a great time and I had a you know a day job that was a real pill. I was working on this around the clock trying to make it all you know. Trying to figure it all out. So that was kind of when we really made the commitment. But I would say the move to Silverton and that was that was when it kind of became real. That really cemented it.

And that also shortly after we moved to Silverton is when we started building split boards. So I really I think that being here helped us hone the brand and really define ourselves a little bit more what it was that we were about. And for us for a long time now it’s been about powder riding. It’s been about big mountain riding in back country and Silverton being surrounded by public lands and you know some of the steepest terrain in Colorado some of the steepest terrain in the lower 48 that really helps shape the boards and shape the brand. And I think help it blossom I guess you know from what we we were feeling like it was but it wasn’t quite there. And that just cemented it and really crystallized it.

Yeah well I mean Silverton mountain has this mystique right. I mean it is just totally different than anything else that’s going on in Colorado. It’s basically just like lift access back country and riding that terrain all the time being associated with that mountain. And what’s going on here. Definitely like you said I can see how that hones your brand. You definitely getting a lot of that country product testing.

I’m assuming less about her days memories many years later. It’s never good.

So it has to work or a look. Well so. So how big is venture now like as far as like how many boards are you making at this point and also how how big is your team. We had kind of spoken about this a little bit and then I guess on on top of that you know what does it mean to have a real viable business and employ people in Silverton. I mean does that mean you guys.

Were not as big as probably a lot of people think. I’m going to blame Lisa for that.

Because she does really well with all of our marketing stuff like because we do things professionally think people just think our scale is way bigger than it is. And you having walked through this place you know you get an idea of our real size here but that is for us it’s not like we’re not going for world domination here. We’re not looking to be Burton or whatever. It’s so all about just living here and building boards we want and creating jobs for our employees and. That’s about it.

You know it’s a hand-built process. So I mean when I walked in you were crossing the top sheet on the board yourself. And so you know that’s still you know a big part of your process and actually when we first started emailing about getting together the first thing you sent me was a link to a blog post that you have that outlines you know the process of the hand-built core where like how important that is and that I mean the core is the central component of the snowboard.

That’s what’s going to give it its flex and its feel it really determines the way that the board rides. And that’s definitely a point of pride for us. I mean we do everything in-house but course that’s probably close to half of the amount of time that it takes to actually build a board and we start with a pile of raw lumber in the parking lot and then we take it all the way through to a finished core.

We do our own top sheets we I mean we do it all here and you know for us I think it’s about paying attention to detail and making sure that we’re putting out the best product that we possibly can because we’re going to ride those boards to our employees are going to ride those boards. And because of that everybody cares and everybody really pays attention.

And when you live in a place like this to be able to do that in spite of the fact that it’s so remote in spite of the fact that there’s only about 600 year round residents here in Silverton it’s pretty miraculous and it takes a lot of tenacity and you know as we alluded to earlier it hasn’t been an easy road we’ve had to work day jobs we’ve had to do other things to make ends meet and make it happen. But it’s all been in pursuit of that dream right. And and being able to live the lifestyle we all hear about the lifestyle but truly we’re doing it. You know we can walk out our front door and go snowboarding. So that’s what it all boils down to that.

And I think you know sharing that passion with other people.

So I mean you walk out not only right here and go snowboarding. You go snowboarding on something you built which is pretty sweet. I mean that’s got to be a pretty cool feeling.

Yeah especially when it’s something new that you just trying out and you get to you know go and ride it for the first time. Right.

What’s that look like like you know new products. Is that just kind of an organic constantly evolving. Hey I wish this board was you know we could tweak it a little bit. Is that kind of how you come up with that is cards.

Our advantage is that you know we do it all here like we saw this thing from scratch. So anything that we want to change we can you know we make all the tooling everything. So that’s that’s that’s often a big advantage for us.

Well it’s true. I mean I just walked in and you know the new line of yours is on the wall and it definitely they’re beautiful and it really made me want to get bindings on a pair. I went out so I didn’t have to come to one of your demo days or something like that. I saw on your website you have you know some cool events throughout the year. You’ve got quite the split first in the spring playing and you know some other things like the songs like really cool opportunities to come out here first

Sure. And we’re we’re going to be putting a demo tour dates up on our website shortly. We’re still working on that schedule but typically we hit a handful of resorts at least in Colorado as well as throughout the Rocky Mountain west hopefully we’re going to be able to expand our reach a little bit this year. Hoping to get out to the Pacific Northwest and possibly even the East Coast. We’ll see.

And then you mentioned split fast which is a really amazing event for anybody who’s into split boarding. There are a bunch of them that happen all over the country. They’re largely put on by volunteers who are just passionate about split boarding. And so they organize an event in their neck of the woods and invite people to come out and tour. And we’ve had an event here for the last several years that was organized by some volunteers who have become good friends and at a certain point they just said we’re kind of done with it.

They don’t want to deal with the organizing anymore. And so we took it on last year and we had about 130 split boarders descend on Silverton the second or third weekend and April I forget what it was. And just you know get out in the snow packs a little safer at that time of year so people are able to get out into some of the bigger lines and just a lot of camaraderie a lot of you know friendships built. You know in the skins track and then you know we do we invite other manufacturers to come and demo their product out.

So it’s really it’s kind of a gathering of the tribe and it’s a really cool thing. So nice. Yeah. Looking forward to hosting it again this year. I think the dates are the 12th through the 14th of April if I’m not mistaken.

That sounds very catchy. Yeah. By the way huge shout out to John and Jason are the guys that started that it was like six years ago. So they came to us when they first got it going Really. Yes of course we’ll do whatever to get this going. But they they really built this to what it is.

The got to a point where they just didn’t want to do it anymore they just wanted to come play and not be involved in or who can blame them.

Yeah. You find out when you get your hands dirty on projects like that how much it really takes to get them organized and set up and roll right. Yeah. There’s a lot of stuff behind the scenes pressure. You see you guys will take the reigns for a few years and then who knows.

Right. Exactly. Well speaking of the safety and the safe snowpack I saw that you also teamed up with the Silverton avalanche.

Yeah the silverton avalanche school that’s a partnership that’s been building over several years and last year we offered their first ever in conjunction with them a split board specific Avy one class and we’ll be doing two more of those with them this year seemed to really be a concept that people were interested in. I think a lot of skiers have been getting out into the back country for longer than snowboarders have just because the gear wasn’t quite up to par and with slip boarding really a lot of advances in slipway technology we’re seeing a lot more people taking up supporting a lot more snowboarders wanting to get into the back country but not necessarily having the education or the confidence to do that and even not really knowing how the gear works.

So the focus of that class was to help them get comfortable not only with their split boards set up but then also get them that ABC1 training so that they have some knowledge when they go out there and can be smart about it because the single most important piece of equipment you have is your brain when you’re in that country.

So yeah not to mention you know when you’re if you are mixed in a crowd and there’s guys on skis and you’ve got your board they kind you kind of move at a different pace. Right. And so it’s nice to be with a crowd of people I’m sure that’s everyone’s kind of similar gear. You’re moving along. Everyone’s kind of has to do this go through the same process.

So essentially when you’re just getting started I think that’s what it’s really nice to just be with fellow split boarders and it’s kind of part of the attraction with that class. Right. But I don’t know I mean I think as you go you know like there are more probably skiers and snowboarders in Silverton and here is just a mix. You know like you remember back in the day when there was a big conflict and all that kind of stuff. But these days I probably go with as many skiers and snowboarders when I go into the back country and it’s right.

Splitboards have come along to the point where it’s not like it takes that much longer to put our stuff back together at the top. And they’re complaining and waiting for us or whatever. Right. So it’s we all just kind of get along just get out there and if you enjoy sliding down snow and you know that’s it.

Right. It’s good to hear. I like that. I mean I kind of started. Most of my snowboard on the East Coast also and so I remember the days of not being allowed on the hill and you know having to have have.

Yeah take your support on the hill so you know I carry some of that with me. You know it kind of dates you when you start talking about things like that.

But you know I you know kind of just getting back to what we talked about with the corn. You know the real quality of the product.

You know what I think it shows in the partnerships that you have you know just speaking of being involved with the ivy training program you know they’re not going to want to go out there with a bunch of people who are new to it on junky gear.

And then and you know we had kind of been talking about how earlier in the trip when I was in Crested Butte I had a chance to interview Alan Bernholtz from Irwin guides and 11 experiences. Then when I said I was coming out to talk to you guys he was like oh we use their boards in our guiding programs so say hi I know those guys around the world and you know your relationship with the with the mountain here which is extremely technical difficult terrain guided experience you know so you must feel good at it.

It really talks to the quality of the product that you’re putting out. If people like that are going to use the the tool that you’re creating. Right. I mean so you must be kind of hitting what you want to. You must be creating what you want to create. If you’re getting that that kind of feedback

Well definitely I mean I think that both of the you know the groups that you’re talking about Erwin guides and Silverton mountain guides those guys are abusing their equipment. You know there they are putting it through its paces and so to have them say yeah this is our gear choice this is what we use is a pretty big statement because it does hold up and the terrain around here especially up in Crested Butte as well is really rocky and it can really do a fair amount of damage to a board and I can’t tell you how many times people have hit something and turn their board over expecting to see you know a giant course shot and we hear the story again and again they’re amazed that it’s maybe scratched just slightly. But durability has always been a big part of our focus as well. And so yeah having those guys on her equipment and having them be happy with it does speak volumes.

Yeah some good feedback right. Because the good guys have out there testing like you said it’s getting treated the worse so. So what about you. So for this year there’s. No what’s new with the lineup.

Is anything particular. You know you’re really excited about. The lineup of boards for the season.

I’m excited about my new board. which you is riding the Paragon which we introduced last year.

But we started out just doing it as a solid. And then it got really good feedback from everyone that was on it and I really personally enjoyed it and we decided to just throw that into the mix as a split as well. So that’s yeah I’m excited about the thing that is my go to board.

Nice. Yeah and that’s that particular model we also have a women’s version called the oracle. And both of those are designed to be a little bit more versatile than what we’ve offered in the past. We actually were designing it more with east coast riders in mind. Just trying to branch out a little bit and not be so you know specific to Rocky Mountains and big terrain but we found it rode so well in this terrain that both of us that’s kind of what we’re leaning toward righting ourselves now.

But the feedback’s been great from people on East Coast West Coast and up and down the Rockies so yeah. Super fun ride. And then the other thing I should mention is we have started focusing a little more on making some women’s specific stuff in the last couple of years which for many years we had taken the stance that there’s no such thing as women’s specific gear. It’s just gear designed for your height your weight your shoe size.

But there are some things that we’ve done with the women’s specific stuff that I think make it a little more approachable and ridable for ladies shortening up the stance tweaking the flex a little bit more. The assumption is it’s going to be a smaller lighter person on it. So to be able to flex the board personally we need to just soften it up a little bit more in the response to those has been great. This year we’ve got the tempest which is our freeride shape for women and the Oracle which is more all mountain and both are available solid or split.

And we also started playing with some different glass combinations this year and some of the boards that are half Klem you want to talk a little bit more about some of the tech around that gel we just used the same Tri-X fiberglas for many many years which is kind of just a workhorse of most snowboards built really but we just wanted to try to play around with just making them a little bit more for lack of a better word accessible just easy fun to write.

You know it’s not supposed to be something that is just going to buck you and it’s just you have to be a super tough guy to ride this board. Snowboarding is about fun so. We added some different and that’s actually in the paragon as well some different fiberglass which makes a little bit more torsional forgiving and so far so good. I really like that stuff. So that’s there’s going to be more of that stuff coming out to just playing with different materials.

Cool. And then you’re also launching this new video series this year the rough cut series. Tell us what’s going on.

Yeah that’s an idea that we’ve had for many years that we wanted to give people a window into what it’s like to work at Venture Snowboards right to actually see the boards being built. You know that’s something pretty unique most skis and snowboards are not handcrafted by snowboarders in the mountains right. So that’s one of those things that. I don’t know I just think it’s really cool for people to get to see. So

we’re going through our entire production process and videoing little clips of it and or have been releasing them on social media.

And ultimately the goal is going to be to put together a longer video. But right now it’s just little clips. And so you can you know watch the core kind of going through all its different stages and. And then the board you know coming into being I don’t know if you want to say more about that claim.

 


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Yeah. I mean it’s just not a it’s not a super organized like oh we’re going to show you from you know beginnings and how the snowboard is built or whatever. Just like when there is interesting parts of the process we just always looks from this this is kind of fun. Just to give people a little taste of all the different stuff and there are many building a snowboard.

Yeah it takes a long time when you build all of your components before anything even starts to look like a snowboard. Right.

Nice. And so I mean like you said when people are you know getting a home made her handmade product I think that’s you know people want to see what’s kind of going into it. And so that gives them some some insight in to really know why I think such a high quality piece of gear. So I look forward to seeing some more of those that will be fun.

Well I don’t know if there’s anything else that you specifically wanted to mention before we kind of wrap things up. You know I really enjoyed going to learn more about your company and meet you guys here in on your turf as I just stare out these huge windows. By the way I keep looking outside but we’re talking. It’s amazing. But you know the last thing I wanted to ask and this is what I ask all my guests you know who would you like to hear on this podcast.

Is there any recommendations you would give typical brewery folk. Yeah. So you have a nice fridge full of their stuff over here. Actually they have the new you know the euphoria. For me it just came out this year is this. Yeah. Last week for this coming year. But yeah it’s. And you have a board that euphoria right. That’s the origin of the name of the beer.

Yeah these Eurphoria’s are powder boards so they brewed a beer to kind of give you that euphoric feeling that you get a super deep day. And we’ve got a great partnership with Ska brewing. They’ve been super supportive ever since we got to this part of the state and there are good people.

Yes. And speaking of which we are planning our 13th annual season kickoff party with them getting going on November 4th Saturday November 4th at Ska brewing world headquarters in Durango. So anybody who’s in the southwest. Come on out for a good time. We’re going to have live music from Farmington Hill who is a longtime favorite playing if this event will be giving away a customs sky venture snowboard and raising funds for Colorado Avalanche Information Center and some other good causes so. A great way to start the season.

All right. And I can’t think of a better way to end this. It sounds like you know we’ll make sure we get this out before November 4th so people would know about it. But again thank you so much for taking some time. And you know I just really appreciate it. Great to meet you guys.

Our pleasure. Thanks for making the trip down to this part of the mountains. Thanks for coming in. Thank you.

Thanks for listening I hope you enjoyed this episode of Colorado.FM, the colorado podcast. As we mentioned in the intro you can find links to any related content in the show notes to this podcast episode and if you’ve enjoyed it.

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