Made in Colorado

#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.

 

#018 Meier Skis – Ted Eynon Talks Locally Crafted Skis

Ted Eynon Meier SkisHey everyone, thanks for tuning in to Colorado.FM – The Colorado Podcast for this episode with Ted Eynon of Meier Skis.

Meier Skis got their start in a tiny garage in Glenwood Springs, but they have since relocated to Denver where they have been building an amazing community around the company.

Online, you can find Meier Skis at MeierSkis.com and on Facebook and Instagram @meierskis.

As always, 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

[07:15] Come see how the skis are made

[8:50] Skiing is about the fun

[13:00] How they are different

[15:00] What the clear top sheet means to Meier

[17:00] Sustainability of a local supply chain – ‘Farm to table of skis’

[22:00] Pre-ski stop

[24:30] The product line-up

[29:00] Co-branding partners

[33:30] Idea behind locally harvested wood cores and clear top sheet

[34:00] Outdoor Retailer in Denver

[40:00] Working at Meier – Winter schedule and powder days

 


Relevant Links

Meier Skis

Loveland Ski Area

IKON Pass

Matador! Soul Sounds

Josh Blue

Rep Your Water

Leftover Salmon

Widespread Panic

 


Related Episodes

Venture Snowboards

Romp Skis

Protect Our Winters

 


Transcript

 

Let’s kick it off. Here’s my conversation with Ted from Meier Skis. Ted, thanks for having me. Thanks for the unbelievable tour of like the whole facility. I definitely did not expect that when we came in, I kind of expected like, art, this is where we make the skis. Thanks for making the time. I really appreciate you speaking with us today.

Yeah, of course. Happy to do it and I’m happy to have you here. And it’s always fun showing the building, showing the space and it’s always different than I think what most people are expecting. So.

Right. And now it’s a little bit more of what you guys are used to, probably than a lot of people having people around, even in the workspace because of the way you have the bar in the tours set up. I mean you’ve got, you can tell by walking through the shop. That is not the first time those guys had seen somebody like come in their workspace.

Yeah. It’s almost every day I’m there. Pretty well used to it and you know, our thing has been to really kind of open the Kimono, if you will, to the public to media, to whomever to come in and learn about the brand and make it really easy for them to see how skis and snowboards are made firsthand and learn about the materials and the techniques we use to, to produce them. And, and you know, most people have skied or snowboarded their whole life, 40 years or what have you and they have no clue how they’re made. I mean, you know, I had no clue how they were made until I got involved in Meier Skis. And so it’s, it’s genuinely fun to see people sign. I had no idea, didn’t, didn’t, didn’t know that’s how it was done and to learn about the process and she just kind of that immersive brand experience and that’s kind of what we’re about having a little fun and educating folks and putting out some, some grades, skis.

Yeah. And speaking of the fund side of things, it definitely looks like there’s a fair share of that going on around here too. I mean not only the workshop but this building that you guys are in and kind of the partners that are around here. I mean, you’re just telling me about a lot of the events and the kind of partnerships that you have locally. There’s the bar in the workshop if we didn’t mention that already. Um, are you hiring is kind of the question?

Yeah.

Places dislike. It looks like you guys are having a lot of fun and uh, you know, while you’re making.

Yeah. Well, you know, here’s how we look at it. You know, skiing is about the fun, right? Um, if out on the snow, you’re snowboarding, your skiing, what have you, you’re out sliding around. I mean, it’s about being out with your friends or maybe your by herself, just getting into it for a day on your own, but it’s about the fun, right? It’s that getting that, those Yucks, that big shitty grin on your face and you know, if you’re having a bad day on the snow, it’s your own damn fault, right? You need to snap out of it and uh, joined the program because really if you just stand around even at the base of any mountain and just look around and everyone’s having fun and so what we’ve tried to do is extend that, fallen into our brand and into the production process and, and just really kind of make things open and transparent to our consumer base, to our customers and to everybody.

And you know, part of it is to bring a little mayhem into the joint. So yeah, we definitely like to have fun. When you first come into our space as you saw, you walk right into a bar and the bar acts as our showroom and people can talk to the ski tender, learn about the brand, have a couple of cold beers or a glass of wine or water or whatever your poison is. And uh, behind that bar is this wall of glass. And right there is where you can see the guy’s laying up and pressing skis and snowboards and you know, people can watch every step and get the play by play, by the ski tender and they can touch and feel the materials and, and while having a couple of beers. So it’s Kinda like apres-ski, but it’s pre-ski before you head up the hill to the mountains.

And then, you know, part of what we like to do is bring some fun into here through events. So we have a ton of events here. They might be with partners of ours, breweries, distilleries, the IKON pass, you know, uh, we, we produce a icon skis and it’s been a great partnership. They just had an event here a week ago. They call them stoke events, um, and uh, I think we had 300 5,400 ikon pass holders in here with music and free beer and food trucks and it was a blast. And, and, and you know, when we have these events, depending on who we’re working with, we open up the production area and our guys are back there and kind of give them prompt to tours and it was packed back there the whole time pack back there. I can, I can imagine in a, you know, just, you know, you’re speaking to it like the story and the transparency and everything and, and that’s such a huge part of what people want to know, like behind their consumption these days. Right. And it’s, they want to know that it’s really, you know, a big.

When you log onto your website, I mean it says it right there. You’re striving to be the world’s most ECO friendly high performance skis and that’s, you know, awesome. Claiming it’s an amazing goal and people are going to shop because of that as much as anything else because they’re probably going to be like, well, I can expect a certain amount of performance out of skis, I expect them to work and then, uh, but you know, that’s a big differentiator for you and they can come here and really see what that means to you guys and what that means in the process and in the materials and um, and you really kind of see it right off the bat. Um, and, and what actually attracted me to even like get in touch with you guys was seeing your booth at the outdoor retailer show. And I went up to Matt and introduced myself. And because the skis themselves, I mean, first of all, there’s the product right before there’s all the other stuff. There’s the product and their product is so beautiful and unique with the wood cores that kind of shine through. So why don’t you speak a little bit to that, you know, the sustainability of the product, the materials and um, and how that differentiates you from, from what else is kind of going out there.

Yeah. And you know, I think part of why we do what we do and, and, and kind of open the doors to everyone is to allow people to see that we actually make the skis ourselves, which is really important. There are a lot of brands that don’t make anything right. And they may make whatever claims, um, they may be a Colorado based company and the skis are made in China, right? And a lot of people don’t know that skis and snowboards are made in China by even smaller craft brands based here in Colorado or other parts of the United States. And so, you know, we like to differentiate ourselves and demonstrate that yeah, no one else is making this for us. We’re making it right here, um, every step of the way. And so that’s a lot of why we do that. And, uh, um, and then as far as, you know, the aesthetics of the skis we get, I mean, I’ve heard it thousands and thousands of times.

Oh my God, they’re the most beautiful skis, which all that falls apart if they aren’t good students, right? They got to ski well to. So our typical retort is, you know, they ski as good, if not better than they look and they do. And you know, at this point where we’re at as far as kind of a maturing and evolving company, I’d put our skis up against any brand in the world. I don’t care who they are. Uh, and I think if, if people had a, a blind ski test, if you will, uh, I think we’d win more often than we’d lose against any major brand in the world. And, uh, you know, we have people coming over from Atomic Rozzie, K2, Salomon, these big brands coming to us all the time, all the time, every. And uh, once we get them, we don’t tend to lose them.

And because we’re going about things, you know differently. And you know, the clear top sheets are, are huge for us, it’s, it’s not easy with as long as skiing has been around and as long as there has been these older than dirt ski manufacturers out of Europe or wherever, um, to come up with a distinct look and aesthetics to the skis that separate us from everyone else where you can see the skis and you’re like, oh, those are Meiers, right? And that’s not easy to do. And so we’ve committed to the clear top sheet and you know, there’s, as you’ve seen, there’s all sorts of colorful graphics on there. I mean, it’s all over the place, right? We’ve got the standard product line, but then we’ve got limited editions and one off customs and licensing deals with different businesses and what had in. So through it all, you’re able to see the natural beauty of the wood and the craftsmanship.

When you cover up skis and snowboards, tip to tail with ink, you can, you can hide all your mistakes. For us, we’re kind of buck naked, burying our soul. And, you know, it’s funny because we’ll be at our, you mentioned outdoor retailer will be there and we’ll have engineers or someone coming over from one of the big brands looking at our stuff and they’re like, oh, easy clear top sheet, you know, and they start, you can tell what they’re doing when they’re looking at the skis, they’re looking for, you know, kind of separation in the, in the wood, they’re looking for mistakes. And I’m like, keep looking like we, we, we can’t afford to have mistakes, right? Because, uh, there’s a premium on making sure that everything is perfect, uh, and, and we strive for that. And, and so that distinctive look I think really separates us.

On the sustainability front of the bottom line is making skis and snowboards is not an environmentally friendly process. I mean, that’s just a fact. So we try and do our part to make a more sustainable ski and snowboard through certain practices such as using locally harvested wood, right? We’re closer to the source of the wood versus trying to ship would in from the east coast or from bamboo from Southeast Asia, which, you know, everyone talks about bamboo, so eco friendly and say, well, it actually takes a ton of water to produce the bamboo. Um, there’s a lot of processing that goes on, uh, in, in creating the final bamboo product that’s used in skis of which there is a real nasty byproduct from that. And then, you know, shipping would from Asia to here is, this is a big footprint as our shipping skis from China to here.

And uh, so, you know, using that locally harvested wood. And then, you know, the wood, we use the aspen. If you cut down on Aspen, you’ll get a bunch of aspen shoots that come up. And if you’ve ever had a yard with an aspen in it, the chutes always come up in the wrong place over. It’s right next to your home or up in the middle of your garden or wherever. And then we use the, uh, the pine beetle kill, which anyone that lives in the rockies and skis has seen the devastation on the mountain sides where everything is brown through the, um, you know, basically the forest becoming unhealthy, uh, becoming overgrown over time because we suppress forest fires because we lived there. And uh, um, so being able to utilize that pine beetle kill in skis is really cool. It’s a, it’s a nice story.

And, and it kind of reinforces what we’re about. And uh, uh, the combination of the Aspen and beetle kill makes for an amazing wood core light. You know, it’s dry here. Uh, so real poppy, if you ever been at an Aspen Grove and someone’s walking behind you, that branches got lots of life to it. And, uh, and, and funny enough, pine beetle kill, just like all wood is graded, it can actually be used for a frame construction in homes. So, you know, we get all the wood that we get is especially graded for Meyer. I’m making it more clear and ensuring that um, you know, it’s a strong and durable and they make for amazing wood cores and uh, and we use some other things. We do, we use a entropy, a boxy, um, again, epoxy is not inherently environmentally friendly, but it’s a bio base resin in it’s as environmentally friendly is, um, any epoxy uh, can be. So we use that which works fantastic. And then we use a lot less ink. Ink is not good stuff for the environment and we use a lot less ink because we like to show off the wood right there. Those are some of the things that we do. And then of course we’re right here in the United States in Denver, produce everything here. So, you know, at least shipping two locations in North America. It’s a short distance. We’re not shipping skis in from eastern Europe or China first.

Yeah. And it’s, you know, as, as a Colorado based podcast. I mean, it was really interesting to see that. I mean, you’re a local company that is physically and you know, not just a headquarter here but is producing, warehoused here. Everything you’re sourcing locally, I mean you got local guys, no girls working in the shop. You got everything going on. It’s um, is like. And then with the open a workshop area kind of reminds me how everyone’s got the open kitchen now you’re like the farm to table of a ski exit. I love that. He can we. Can we figure out that first one’s on me man? Yeah, that’s great. That’s great. I love it.

But at that, that is, that was the whole premise and that was the idea and um, you know, it’s, it’s amazing. Um, it’s definitely resonating with our audience and uh, when we have people that come in here from Japan, from Italy, from France, from Germany, from Toronto, from all over the United States, North America that literally get off the plane at the airport, go rent their car and they drive to Meijer to, to have a couple of beers, break bread with us, watch the guys making skis, learn about the process, learn about the brand before they head up the mountain on their ski vacation. I mean, it’s amazing to me. And, and you know, with destination, it’s on the label. Yeah, well we’re on tripadvisor and people, you know, people talk about the skis, but they’re also talking about just the vibe here and, and that they were actually able to see, go on a tour and see how skis are made and uh, you know, while having a beer or wine and have a  said the pre ski you get amped up and it’s a great environment and maybe you’ve been on the plane for a little while and it’s a great stop. It, it’s amazing.

You know, I imagine we’ll have a lot more of those people this year than we had last year. And she’s fun, uh, that, that the word has spread because, you know, it wasn’t that long ago, I think I was telling you earlier, if I’m at crested butte or I’m at Wolf Creek or wherever steamboat and I saw someone on our skis and be like, oh, that’s, that’s probably Joe, that’s a Sarah or whatever, you know. So now, now, I mean we’re shipping skis all over the world and um, you know, most whiskeys in the beginning were all sold right in Glenwood Springs and then kind of, you know, I’m starting to get to the front range in Colorado and, and now we ship more skis outside of Colorado than, than we have inside of Colorado. But all regions are growing well for us. I mean we doubled in size last year and you know, I think we’ll hopefully make a run at doubling topline growth this year if, if, uh, the season gets off on the right foot and you know, [inaudible] fourth quarter of the season is, you know, October, November, December is a important of the ski season is where it all goes down.

Right? Yeah. Right.

Oh good. Because I hope it keeps those, all those people busy in there, you know, keeps everything you can say they’re busy, they’re busy. Is focused and shit done. Yeah. There were some stacks of a laminated skis that you hit the bandsaw and somebody has got to get on it. Yeah, exactly. I must go faster. Let’s go faster. But it’s, but it’s a hands on process. I mean, that, that is like a hands on process from beginning to end. It is unbelievable. It really is a handmade product. Absolutely. Yeah. And you know, it’s hard to put too much automation into skis anyhow. I mean, even big brands, there’s a lot of hands on the skis. There’s just, there’s only so much automation you can do and you know, for us, we’re just trying to stay true to the brand and kind of core values where we started. Um, because we think, um, you know, doing handmade skis is pretty cool. Yeah. But even with that, I mean, your lineup is pretty impressive.

I mean 13 models or so plus 17 percent a control in potentially and you’re, you know, you can get a custom made set as well and um, and you’ve even got a snowboard in there. So it’s like a, I mean, for the, you know, the size of the shop that you’ve got going on over there. There’s a lot of variety and a lot of options and uh, you know, that’s kind of an interesting model.

Yeah. It’s, um, it’s alive and what we have, we were really good at coming up with new designs. We’re really bad at killing them off because once we have the tooling in place and we have a cult following for a certain model, it’s hard for us to just say, oh, we’re not going to make that anymore. You know, people would kill us. There’d be a revolt. So what, what we are now looking to do is kind of stratify things a little bit in a lineup where a certain skis were committing to have on the shelf, you know, so part of the standard product lineup, uh, the more popular skis, we’re going to keep those in inventory on the shelf, both for our direct consumer orders as well as for a backing up inventory in all of our ski shop partners that we have, you know, all around North America.

And, and that’s part of the uniqueness of our business model actually, is instead of forcing a ski shop to buy everything in February or March and take a wild ass guess at how many they’re going to sell next year, which is usually impacted by how much it snows. Whether shop. Yeah, exactly. We take a lot of that risk and mitigate it for them out of there because we’re here making skis right through the season. Gotcha. And were keeping standard product in inventory right through the season with kind of minimum levels. Once we have that, then we’re backfilling, um, you know, the inventory for that particular ship more out.

Exactly. And so, you know, for the ski shops we say why spend money and, and hope to have hit the right models and hope to have a good ski season. I mean, let’s face it, in the end, a ski shop is going to sell what they have, right? So if they bought this, even if it’s not the right length or not, the right model, they might try and um, um, forced that ski to that customer because that’s what they have. Right? And you know what, what we’re about is, you know, our ski shop partners have demo centers and a small number of display skis and they can take orders from a customer. So customer goes out and skis, it comes back, it loves it, you know, oh my God, that was amazing. I want to buy it. If they don’t have that ski and inventory, they still take the order.

If it’s a local, we just shipped the ski, it’s on the shelf here. We ship it to the shop or if it’s a tourist going back to Atlanta or Boston or Texas or whatever, it just goes to their home address. And we actually have a, um, a, a piece of software that runs on top of our e-commerce that kind of directs traffic on protecting territories for retailers that, that ties orders to a discount code that’s tied to that ski shop. And we have all these kind of techniques that automatically manage all this and notifies, um, our ski shop partner, our licensing partner, a co branded partner that they have an order that they’re going to receive compensation on. Nice. Yeah. So it’s, it’s an industry first and it allows us to continue to sell direct while simultaneously selling indirect through our are a retailer network.

Yeah. And those brandings and all those partnerships like seem pretty unique. Maybe we’ll have a Colorado.FM. I’m working towards it. Um, but, uh, you know, that’s like a really unique part of your business it seems like. And uh, we didn’t really talked about this earlier. I mean we talked about the partnerships, but like it seems like, you know, again, just looking right on your homepage and also in the, a showroom there, this rep, your water, one’s a pretty big one and you’ve got some cool music ones coming up to that. I’ll get to talk to.

Yeah. So it’s, it’s, uh, again, we don’t think we can succeed as a ski manufacturer ski brand here in the states without going about things uniquely and differently. I think if we followed the same path that I’m, all the large ski brands did once upon a time. I mean it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s not a path that’s likely to lead in, in a commercially viable business. So we try and go about things differently and a big part of our growth and our marketing and our promotions is working with co branded partners, be them breweries, distilleries, and we worked with cabot cheese up in Vermont. You know, we work with a AC golden that makes Colorado native bear here work with Tivoli that’s right around the corner in downtown Denver on the Cu Denver campus, metro state campus. We work with universities, university of New Hampshire. Uh, we’re about ready to release the, a cu, a, a bus ski.

Yeah, a metro state right here in town. Uh, yeah, we’ve got a skew with them and they actually had a happy hour here last Friday. Um, so, you know, you get people over here that are skiers having a little fun and, and, uh, they had music here for that as well. Um, we, we work with, um, uh, yeah, distilleries like Milagro Tequila where it’s a Tequila and we have a bunch of others that were close to getting in the shoot. And then music is just a big part of what we do here. So we’ve done, um, past partnerships with bands like a Big Head Todd and the Monsters, String Cheese Incident. Um, we, we have a great partnership with Leftover Salmon, uh, which is ongoing. And uh, you know, they actually kicked off their, uh, something higher album tour and album release. I’m here, uh, in the spring in May. They actually did the album signing right here at this table we’re sitting at right now.

Yeah. And I mean, so it was kind of a closed event, but we had probably 300 people in here and salmon had all their partners in here, some great companies. And uh, you know, it was, it was awesome. It was so much sounds. And uh, we, we, we just sign and we’re just ready to launch a partnership with a band, Widespread Panic and it’s going to be so much fun. So we’re, we’re kind of a time in the launch around their Milwaukee shows that are coming up and uh, I think they’re like October 20, 21, something like that. And uh, so we’re going to have a base ski with a widespread panic graphic on the quick draw. And then we’re going to have a five other graphics and people can pick the model, pick the length pictographic and they’ll have that in four weeks. I can or should have it informally.

Um, it always gets tough around the holidays, you know, because so many people are ordering skis and they all want by Christmas. That gets to be a little challenging, but start seeing some snowflakes in the air and all of a sudden the phone starts ringing. But, but the, the, the co-branded partnerships, the licensing partnerships allows us to grow into their passionate customer base. And conversely, you know, were these brands and these businesses want to be relevant in the snow industry to be able to have skis and snowboards with your branding and you know, whatever kind of theme and messaging you want to have on there. Done tastefully. We weigh in heavily on, uh, what goes on there. A is a lot of fun. We’ve got nike coming in next week. They have an off site meeting here in Denver and they were looking for some smaller brands that actually manufacture things to go to visit. And somehow they decided to come to my rescue, so I mean we’ve got, we’re going to be doing some Nike Skis and they’re doing a tour here and they said that they’re coming here to try and learn from us. So that go.

That’s unbelievable. I mean, and that’s a, like you said it all coming from something that started in garaging. Glenwood Springs, right? Yeah.

Matt, Matt Cudmore. And he’s the one who started it all and uh, started it in the, in the tiniest little one car garage you’ve ever seen. And um, yeah. And, and the whole idea of using locally harvested wood came from his brother who worked, uh, lived in crested butte and worked for the Colorado state forest service at the time. And he’s the one who kind of inspired matt to investigate using locally harvested wood from Colorado. And that’s what put us on that path. And then Matt had the idea of showing off the natural beauty of the wood using the clear top sheet. And yeah, that’s kind of, you know, the routes and where we evolved out of.

Yeah. And uh, like I mentioned, I, I met Matt and that’s who I first spoke to and then he put us in touch since you’re the actual onsite guy, but, and we met at the outdoor retailer show and you know, that was the first year that it had moved to Denver from I guess Salt Lake City and uh, you know, that was a big thing for local brands and I’m curious, you know, what, what that was like to, I don’t know if you attended that show in the past or if it was one of those things where it opened the door for you now that’s in town, but what was it like having that big show right in, you know, a mile down the road or is handy?

Handy? It’s convenient, but it did lead to us being very efficient, you know, so, so we’ve always done the Sia, the snow show, and then our outdoor retailer acquire the Sia trade show. So instead of there being two shows that kind of competed, they consolidate it into one. Yeah, just a mile and a half down the road from here. So there’s people all over the world coming in for this and I think at this point, I may be wrong, but I think we’re the longest standing, um, ski brand that produces their own skis, exhibiting at that show. Um, which is pretty cool. Yeah. And um, uh, yeah, the inefficient part was we’re like, we’re so close. So we kinda haphazardly loaded up and ended up having to make about eight trips back and forth to get all the shit that we forgot. It’s like when you move next door, you still got to pack everything up and move again.

Lined is like, I’ll just take it one bucket at a time. It’s easy. Exactly. And then we take advantage of it. We do a couple things. I mean we um, so we have our vehicle are immobile, is kind of on call so people can meet at our booth if they’re interested, I’m pick them up right out in front of the Convention Center. We have a meeting point and uh, bring them over here. You know, they have a couple of quick beers, do a tour and uh, these retail shops can or other partners of potential partners can learn about our brand and see what we do right here and we can do that all within, you know, about an hour and a half. Right. So we’d pick them up right in front buzz them over here, stuff a couple of beers and I’m doing a tour and bring them right back and they’re back on the show floor.

They must have loved that because I mean I had never been to this thing before and I mean it’s massive and I only had to go. I went for one day just to, you know, see some people I know and see what was going on out there. But when you have to work those trade shows and you’re there for like four days, you would kill to get out of there for like an hour and a half and just come hang out somewhere else. Exactly. And yet you’re still part of, you know, the show part of business. And then we also, we have a big music event here where we’ll have, you know, nationally known musicians play here and that kind of goes back to, I think an earlier question, I guess I skimmed over that, but you know, we have a lot of events here that, that are music centric as well.

So we’ll often have it built around a, uh, a charitable organization and do kind of a fundraiser around that. And we’ve had musicians here, I think almost everyone for the motet has played here. I’m Eddie Roberts from the new master sounds, um, and now, uh, uh, the matadors a, he’s an amazing musician and had a good friend of mine. And so he’s really woven into the music scene here. So He’s brought in a jeff, the drummer from thievery corporation. A bar on the keyboard is for pretty lights. Um, we’ve had a DJ Williams, a lead guitarist for a Karl Denson and the tiny universe. We’ve had the trumpet player from the Stevie wonder band. We’ve had like these crazy, you know, allstar collab bands in here with a few hundred people all just having a blast. And it’s crazy and yeah, I, I mentioned leftover salmon plan in here earlier and, and that just is going to continue. And, and so when there’s, when you hear there’s, we’re having a music based event, if you like music, you won’t see these artists in a smaller fund or cooler, more unique thing.

Yeah. Now I’m a, I want to be on the list. Well then like, uh, it’s really amazing and you again, I really appreciate you just taking the time to share the story and show me around and uh, you, it’s so unique and it’s like one of the fun things about, about doing this. Um, I do have a couple of last questions for you. First, like, so when you’re not here with all the music and the fun, where’s your favorite, uh, like testing grounds for these skis you’re making anyway, it depends what snow we want to test on. So, um, and usually, you know, we kind of chased the snow a little bit when the time allows for it. So, you know, for doing a demo somewhere and um, we’re at Alta Utah and we see a big front blown in and they’re predicting, you know, two to four feet and up their testing powder skis. But you know, a lot of the skis we have are narrower into foot or front side carbon skis, you know, designed for the northeast, designed for, you know, those like last season here, right where you have a lot of firms snow days and actually are getting some ice here, which people in Colorado aren’t really easy. Whereas in the northeast Michigan, uh, yeah, it’s pretty common, right? So if we’re looking to test honestly, we go to loveland a lot and you know, we have a great partnership with them and uh, you know, we’ve got some corporate passes, we trade for skis up there and they’re just so easy to work with and they get great snow grade powder and you can get powder their days after it snows and if it hasn’t snowed for a bit, you know, you can get some great from snow to test as well.

Um, but yeah, it just kinda depends, you know, how the schedule works out where you are and what you have for skis, how much time you have, right? Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Of course you would think being in the ski industry and being a ski manufacturing ski brand that were on the snow all the time and as most people that are in this business will tell you it doesn’t quite work out that way because you’re just busy as shit doing a million different things. But you know, we’re, we’re getting to the point, um, you know, maturing and growing as a company where, you know, we can get out on the snowboard more every year. Yeah, yeah. We also do a couple of unique things. So we have a will shift once, once the terrain starts opening up, will shift the work week for production to Tuesday through Saturday so that the guys can take Sunday and Monday, you know, have a day where they’re heading up to the mountains when traffic is coming down and can have a Monday there when there’s no one on the slopes.

And you know, that works out really well because most everyone that works here, um, skis or snowboards, sure. And, uh, then the other thing we have is a powder day rule. If you give ’em I think it’s 24 hours notice you can take that day off. Um, and the only caveat is that you have to work the next available day that you weren’t going to work and do a full day’s work, regular expected productivity. And if you don’t do that then the powder day rule is not available to anyone anymore. So there’s a little pressure, self policing, self policing, madden mayhem would break out, it may break breakout, there would be an angry mob. So we find that that works out pretty well actually, but people can go take their powder day, just go play hard and then come back and work hard.

Yeah. Well I hope you, I hope you’re ready for the flood of resumes, man. Like if like I said, this place is pretty amazing. And, uh, the last thing I’d like to ask people in a, you know, you’ve given me a million great ideas already, but, um, but who would you like to hear on this podcast? Like if, you know, who would you like to learn more about or do you think that people would enjoy kind of learning about their story? And obviously we’re just Colorado based, but it’s not a scheme base.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I, um, it’s a good question. And so if it’s not ski based, I’m going to go outside of the ski industry, um, because you seem to cover that really well. He has some great podcasts out there. Listen to some of woman and hope to listen to some more. Thanks. We had talked briefly earlier, um, you said your wife’s really into comedians and stuff. So there’s a guy by the name of Josh Blue who’s here locally in Denver and he’s just blown up nationally and he is funny as shit. He’s really, he’s pretty twisted, demented, but like in a good way. And uh, uh, so I think josh would be a great one. And then I’m on the music front. Uh, Eddie Roberts from the new mastersounds, the sky is, he’s unbelievable. I mean, he’s played with so many amazing musicians around the world and, you know, he’s, he’s just traveled the world over and he musicians just gravitate to him. I’m just one of those guys that people like to play with, like to hang out with, like likes to have fun with. And uh, so Eddie’s a based here in Denver. I’ve been here a few years now, but he’s originally from uh, uh, from England and uh, he’s a Welshman and uh, and he loves to ski and he, he’s like a crazy son of a bitch. He’s a, he’s, he’s funny to ski with. So, um, I think they’d be two good ones.

Oh man, I appreciate that. I, uh, you know, like he’s, I’ve talked to a lot of gear guys, but we were kind of talking about this earlier, like, you know, the outdoor sports where they’re skiing or snowboarding and a lot of the things that the music and the beer, these things are all part of, you know, what we enjoy and what’s going on here in Colorado. And it’s really part of maybe you get to go snowboarding or skin have a couple of years ago, see some music, man, it doesn’t get much better than that. That’s day.

That’s kind of the idea that’s Kinda covering the basis for most skiers and that’s what we try and bring here. Yeah.

And you’re bringing it all the way here too. And I appreciate that heads up because that’s something I would like to bring to, uh, to this audience as well. So, uh, so thanks a lot, man. I really enjoyed this and um,

you know, I hope we can stay in touch and I appreciate you taking the time. I really do. Well, likewise. Thanks for taking the time and coming down and chatting with us. And uh, yeah, wish you wish you the best with your podcast. Seems like you’re killing it. All right. Thanks man. All right, art, everyone. Thanks for listening. It’s great to be back in the saddle over here as we mentioned. As always, you’ll be able to find any links to things we’ve spoken about in the show notes.

 

Man, I gotta tell you ever since I had a chance to speak to Ted, these guys, The New Mastersounds, you got to check them out. I’ve been really, really enjoying that recommendation, so, uh, hopefully we’ll be able to talk to those guys at some point. But for now I’m just jamming their music all the time. It’s great.

As always, 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.