Everyone out there with an internet connection knows about the Burton announcement today so lets just skip over that part and get down to pointing fingers and making claims.
First and foremost… If you didn’t see this coming you are not paying attention Angry and I have been surmising this exact day for a year or so in our late night chat sessions (which by the way I always remained fully clothed for but I can not vouch for the depravity on his end of the connection). I mean I’m not trying to be all like “we know shit you don’t know” but we know shit you don’t know. Mostly because we talk, listen, and observe the dealings behind the scenes of the industry. We compare notes,
actions, and rumors and can generally get a feel for what’s going on. Over the last few seasons Burton has gutted the Forum Brand. Very few employees are actually devoted exclusively to the brand. Much of the work is “shared” by Burton staff. That’s a bad sign.
Burton/Forum has been unwilling to spend large amounts of dollars to retain high profile riders for the Forum brand. Case in point Jake Blauvelt, a big mtn rider in his earning and riding prime. This is the sort of rider that Forum should have fought to retain but instead he was allowed to move on to bigger and better sponsors. Another example John Jackson, his movement from Forum to Burton was a humongous red flag that something wasn’t right on the Forum front.
Burton/Forum has been slow to move riders up the ladder so to speak. Cam Pierce should have been pro two years ago and Austin Sweetin could easily be pro as well for another company. Not wanting to promote riders to a better pay grade is a red flag that there’s no money to be spent or at least no willingness to spend the money they have.
Second… This isn’t Burton’s “fault” or a case of them “killing” the sport. You know me I’m no fan boy of the big B but seeing everyone piss and moan about boycotting Burton is pretty ludicrous. First of all remember Burton acquired Forum eight years ago to prevent it from being sold off to same lame investment group. They did what they could and they obviously dumped a ton of money and effort into the brand. The brand was dead or dying when they bought it. Too bad for everyone involved that it
didn’t work out better but hey shit happens and that brings me to…
Three… This is not the end of the world, companies come and go all the time. I was in Milo just yesterday hanging out in the back as some of the guys were cleaning the base grinder. On the wall is a promo poster for the 2000 release of Kingpins Destroyer (one of my all time favorites by the way). Here are some of the marquee sponsors… Dub Clothing, Morrow Snowboards, Drake, Rossignal Snowboards, M3 Snowboards, yeah you get the picture. Relevant brands come and go, it is the nature of the industry (I think Rossi has come and gone five times). Does it suck to see a brand with the history of Forum fall away? Damn right it does but it also sucked to see Rev go, see Kingpin go, Mack Dawg, Sims etc etc you get the point. Every dog has its day and if you are lucky and I mean real fucking lucky you at least get to go out with some dignity and not get bought sold and bastardized five times over and become a basement brand at Big 5 and a mere shell of your former glory. Lets all hope Forum is put to rest because I don’t think any of us want to see them at Big 5.
So now what? Well I guess that remains to be seen, but there has to be winners and losers. Honestly
I think Cam Pierce comes out ahead here. He should already be pro and this should give him the push he needs to go on to bigger things. Austin is probably in that same boat. I think Jake Welch is fucked, three or four injury plagued seasons in what should have been his prime is going to hurt his marketability even though his part last year was banger. Pat Moore has more left in him but I don’t know if a company will pay big bucks to get him or what as he is certainly well into “veteran” status. I think Wiig is in a netherland not too old but old and injury prone he may have trouble getting big money sponsorship at least stateside and the same goes for Sauve and Ek. I’m not sure if they are
marketable enough stateside (although both are good and in their prime). Sauve should find a home with all the other Qeubec kids somewhere. Stevie will get picked up no problem hes got a great presence for any brand.
So in the end what does all of this tell us? First it should show you how amazingly fragile this industry is. You mix a downturned economy with one, just one, bad winter (remember 10/11 was record setting) and it is a recipe for disaster. There are a few big named brands out there hanging by a thread. If you don’t want to see even more brands go under you better hope to god it decides to
snow this year.
Second if you know me you know where I’m going to take this. This all comes down to doing your part buying local. How the hell do I make that connection? Well let’s look. If the alpha male of the snowboarding world has to make cuts you know shit is in the toilet. Lets take a moment to remember the roots of the sport here. These fucking discount sites and “member” discount sites are destroying this industry. First of all you are talking the difference of 30, 40, maybe 50 bucks on a board because there are contracts in place that limit price slashing both in dollars and in time of year (remember voiding these contracts effectively sank Sierra). So instead of going into your local shop and looking at that new Destroyer then going home and buying for 30 dollars less why don’t you cough up the 30 bucks or AT LEAST see if your local spot will price match. NEWS FLASH if you support your local shop you will create a relationship with them and thus this sort thing is more likely to work in your favor. I know money is short these days but you have to look at the greater picture. I know as a kid this line of thinking is hard to follow but believe me this is where YOU save this industry or YOU destroy it. If you live somewhere where you don’t have a good local shop you know what online retail outlets are legit … shop at some of the great independent shops via their websites Exit, Eternal, Moda, Milo, Salty’s, Youth Shelter Supply you know who these people are support them if you
have no local source. By purchasing boards from them you can enable them to buy more from the companies which means the companies are more sound… you see the cycle here I hope. When you buy a board from a local shop it gives the shop confidence in the brand. Which will in turn cause the shop to continue to carry the brand and that will help the company that manufactures them, I know from experience talking to guys who run some of our shops that if a line doesn’t sell a good percentage of boards at full price it is usually not brought back in. Part of this is on the companies. They shouldn’t be over producing product that results in massive discounts at the end of the season or sell offs to these vulture discount sites. In companies defense most have already made this move and produce based on orders meaning that you are forced to buy earlier or face the possibility of not having product available at the end of the year. You as a consumer may find this unfair to your wallet but it is a direct result of consumers betting on overstock and not buying new. In short you made this bed now you’re lying in it.
Third point on this is I think we are seeing the end to the 10 brand companies. Burton with 10 sub brands each with its own identity etc etc this is too costly to perpetuate and is going away. You can also see this in skateboarding with the demise of Podium which ran Matix, Diamond, DVS, and Lakai (Lakai pulling out a year or so ago in a good move). This is just too much for these companies to try and fund. That’s fine a little streamlining never hurt anything. Well unless you’re Forum….