I get it, this blog might sound cliché’, even hypercritical, since 7 years ago we started a snowboard company, and I’m about to give my thoughts on these pop up brands that are for riders by riders, rider owned, or whatever other cliché you want to insert. Every year new brands emerge that tell you they are going to bring snowboarding back to snowboarders, or something along those lines.
Let me be honest, this is the hardest endeavor I have ever taken on, I meet awesome people every day, work with people who are even more passionate, but it’s scary as hell having that much responsibility, even over whelming. If I had to do it all over again, I’d still be the 23 year old in the living room with his longtime friend saying “let’s do it.”
We spent days constructing boards, that never saw the light of day. Spent money we didn’t have, sold things we couldn’t live without, all in the name of trying to build this brand. We lost valuable time away from our family and friends, missed birthdays, holidays, bachelor parties, weddings, all sacrifices required for a startup company. This wasn’t an idea we just decided to run with, we lived it, we couldn’t pay rent, had to sell shit to get by, lived on hot and ready pizzas, and loved every second of it. Even today, we love what we do, but it still requires dedication. My son is 3, I’ve missed two of his birthdays, because of traveling to trade shows, we make the best of it, I’m not proud of that, nor am I bragging, but when you start an “adventure” like a snowboard company be prepared for your life to be challenged and changed every day.
When we started, we reached out to local business owners who have since become our mentors. They asked us tough questions, challenged our business plan, poked holes in our idea, but there is one question that will always stick with me until the day I die.
“Do you want to make snowboards, or sell them?”
That’s a great question, at the time, I might have not understood exactly what he was asking, but I understand now that doing both isn’t an easy endeavor. Basically, we could become experts at manufacturing snowboards, make them for other companies, who put their logos, graphics, and branding on them, and let them deal with selling them to the end user, or retailer. That wasn’t good enough for us, we didn’t want to use some other company’s molds, composites, tooling, technology etc, we wanted Marhar to be its own unique brand.
Would it be easier for us to go overseas, or find some other manufacture that would put our designs on their snowboards, absolutely! But I know how much molding costs, new tooling, etc,. so we would be limited to what they already make, what’s already on the market. Hundreds of companies do this, I’m not docking them, I’m not saying the way we started and are conducting business is the best way, but what I am 100% sure on, is what we are doing is the right way. We’ve learned from trial and error, testing, some science, some ingenuity, and some dumb luck. But what we aren’t doing is marketing some lame pitch about how our boards are different but made in the same facility as x,y, z. What we are doing is our damnedest to convince you that snowboarding is fun, and we build fun … WE BUILD FUN, not someone else building it, where we send them our high resolution graphics to be placed on their wood cores, inside their mold cavities, then sell it to you for a premium price convincing you that it is something different than what is out there. There’s the truth, we spend every day of our lives building snowboards, testing new shapes, playing with new composite materials, designing new molds, cores, plastics to provide a different variations from the inside out trying to differentiate from other products that are on the market. Our goal has been to introduce snowboarding to as many new people as possible, make the sport obtainable to everyone. From an outsider looking in, snowboarding is intimidating, dangerous, reckless, when anyone who snowboards knows it is nothing of the sort. Snowboarding is fun, it’s about a community of friends enjoying fresh snow and being active during the cold months of the year.
Let me end with a metaphor. Don’t be another fork, become a chef that makes more pies.
It’s something we talk about at trade shows, seminars, and with our retailers. How do we get more people to participate in our sport? Starting a snowboard company isn’t the answer, but we can do things within our company to encourage new participates. One of our focuses this season is working with a few of our retailers, pooling our contacts together and finding an approachable way to help new snowboarders understand the equipment, and getting them to our mountains. It’s a small step, but we all started somewhere, and I think we forget just how little we knew the first time we strapped our feet to the greatest thing in the world.