Forum, Four Square, and Special Blend No More?

In a serious what the fuck moment of the day Burton has announced that they are going to exit The Program from their quiver of brands. Emails have been placed to Forum officials and hopefully we can get more to the story but for now here’s the press release.

BURLINGTON, VT (October 23, 2012) Burton Snowboards today announced that its senior management team has elected to alter the structure of Burton owned brands to better position the company, its retail partners and stakeholders for the future. The current family of brands includes Analog, Gravis, RED, anon, Foursquare, Forum, Special Blend and Channel Islands. During a company-wide meeting today at its headquarters in Vermont, Burton Founder and CEO Jake Burton explained the new structure and how it will allow Burton to focus on what it does best: make and support products that set the bar for snowboarding development and further progress the sport and lifestyle.

Specifically, Burton announced the following changes to its structure and subsidiaries. Over the next year, Analog will return to its roots of being a pure snowboarding brand based at its original home in Burlington, Vermont. Analog has a deep heritage in snowboarding from the day when Greg Dacyshyn (Burton Chief Creative Officer) and the late Jeffy Anderson (Team Rider) gave birth to the brand in Burlington, and as such, will revert back to being a winter-only brand. Burton’s Gravis brand will ultimately move its headquarters to Tokyo, Japan and moving forward will be solely distributed in Asian markets selling lifestyle shoes and bags. Gravis was established in 1998 as the company’s first independent lifestyle brand, and since then, Asia has been by far its most successful region. As a result, Gravis will now focus purely on this market and opportunity. Further, in a move that Burton has been planning for several years, the company will also start developing protective headwear under the anon brand name. Burton will continue to offer its RED helmets on a limited basis, but the bulk of helmet and optics product lines will be combined under the anon brand, which has become synonymous with quality riding accessories.

Also part of today’s restructure, Burton announced it will transition out of its Program brands (Foursquare, Forum and Special Blend), which were purchased in 2004 with the intent to keep snowboard companies in the hands of snowboarders. Burton has supported these brands for eight years and will continue to support them over the next year through warranty service, dealer support, marketing and inventory. The company will exit out of The Program brands in winter 2014, in order to better focus on and invest in Burton.

Finally, Channel Islands, which was acquired by Burton in 2006, will be unaffected by this brand realignment and will continue to design, develop and manufacture best-in-class surf hardgoods products in Carpinteria, California.

In addressing all of these changes, Jake Burton had this to say: “Burton has experienced several years of income growth since the recession and paid out bonuses to employees over the last two years,” said Jake. “That said, the economy has a voice of its own that we all have to listen to, and the message is clear: do what you do best and focus purely on it. In our case, that means to narrow our focus to the sport and lifestyle that got us here – snowboarding. We will continue to support Channel Islands in its endeavor to make the best surfboards in the world and Gravis in its new home in Japan, but when you walk through the front door here in Burlington, Vermont, it will be all snowboarding and snowboarding lifestyle all the time – driven by the Burton, Analog and anon brands.”

Jake went on to share that one of the key factors that led senior management to these decisions includes the success of Burton’s entry into the apparel and bag/pack business on a year-round basis, which has grown significantly in all seasons. The message Burton has taken from the marketplace is that for long-term success, this is the direction that the company should be pursuing, along with its core hardgoods and outerwear business.

Increasing the company’s focus on Burton has also been demonstrated by recent significant investments in Burton’s headquarters and infrastructure. These include the acquisition of the building next door to its Burlington, Vermont headquarters where the company not only built Craig’s, a new 10,000-square-foot R&D and prototype facility, but also Area 13, a 6,000-square-foot Burton/anon/Analog wholesale showroom. Craig’s (named after the late Craig Kelly) is known as the most advanced and sophisticated snowboard prototype facility in the world where ideas are conceived, built and on-snow in less than 24 hours. Area 13 is Burton’s marquee showroom where retailers from all over the world can come to Vermont to see future product lines. Like today’s announcement, both of these examples demonstrate the company’s commitment to the long-term growth, progression and success of the Burton snowboard brands.

In closing, Jake went on to state the following: “I take full responsibility for the decisions that led to the creation (or acquisitions) of these ancillary brands, and I similarly am the individual ultimately responsible for the decision to realign and focus more purely on what made this company from the start. Clearly, the most difficult aspect of this decision and transition is the people affected. The employees and team riders associated with these brands have poured their guts into making it happen. Their level of commitment has been extraordinary, and we will do everything we can to help support them through this transition. There is never a good time for moves like this, and we could have delayed the announcement, but it isn’t our style to perpetuate a myth. Clearly this transition will pose challenges along the way, but in the long run, everyone will see the results of our commitment to our core business.”

25 Comments

  1. K.T says:

    i liked #forum the movie. kind of weird to do this the day after the release of it.

  2. K.T. exactly my thoughts man it was a total WTF moment this morning.

  3. PacoLiked says:

    This is bs, but has been coming since the day the big b bought them to avoid patent infringement when forums used to have the I Lock system in the early 2000s in my opinion. Gradually burton reduced forums brand visability which in the end did them in. A forum jp walker was the first deck I ever bought in 2002 and I’ve had nothing but forums since. Their park and urban focus along with emphasis on team set them apart for me. I will buy a forum again this year for the last time, but and still love snowboarding the same but this news Should be sad new for anyone who loves snowboarding as on of the true OGs in the game was shut down so burton can continue their stranglehold on the market. Long live forum.

  4. [...] Damn….huge moves are being made by Jake and the crew in Burlington. Opinions are like assholes…I know you all got one. If you snowboarded in the late 90′s at all…. Forum, Foursquare, and Special Blend were huge. Now they Rest In Peace. It’s a business kids….I wonder where the riders will branch out to? Expect to see some other teams get beefed up. Check the details here. [...]

  5. Jenise says:

    I dunno Paco. I don’t think this was a decade long passive-aggressive maneuver. I buy into the idea that Burton was just trying to keep snowboard brands in snowboarder’s hands for as long as they could. If B hadn’t bought them 8 years ago, a ski company would have. And either none of the Program brands would exist today anyways, or they’d just be what we consider crappy ski-owned-but-wanna-be-cool-snowboard(but-its-never-gonna-happen)-brands.

    The Program simply wasn’t profitable. Yeah it sucks Burton had to let them go and a couple people will lose jobs and some snowboarders will have to scramble to get on other teams, but it’s the same decision that would be made in any business. When part of your operations aren’t making money you ditch them to invest in the areas that are profitable.

  6. Dood says:

    How come everyone always make the same argument, i.e., if a ski company had bought the Four Square brands it would have failed. Why could they not succeed in a way that might represent formidable, or at least, unwanted competition? After all, an apparel company bought Mervin, and that didn’t dull Lib Tech’s performance.

  7. Queenski says:

    Who cares!

  8. HardWorkKills says:

    So the B drops Forum, Foursquare, and Special Blend… and partners up with Pottery Barn to produce pillow cases, comforters, and coat racks for spoiled lil punk asses? What the hell is this world coming to? boo hoo

  9. Jeremiah says:

    I think Nike and Adidas had a lot to do with this decision along with other companies growing. I say this because Burton is dropping skateboarding with Gravis as well as skateboarding/surfing with Analog. Those were profitable areas of business for Burton. Nike and Adidas both have taken over the skate shoe market and Burton probably sees them as an upcoming threat in the snowboard market as Nike is starting to become more popular among snowboarders. Nike and Adidas stack their team with some of the best as well as being able to fund Advertising/r&d on a much larger scale because they have the funds. Two Burton team riders joined the Adidas team recently probably because they would make a lot more money. Therefore Burton would rather invest all their resources in snowboarding to still be the best.

  10. walove says:

    whats peter line’s next move?

  11. ODV says:

    First to anybody that actually think burton makes good anything can probably barely even ride let alone put a board to hell and back to see if it is actually worth the money. Burton has been making crap since 2000 everything they have put out since then is only made to ride 30 days a season. Second burton bought forum for patents and getting rid of competition. At the time when forum was purchased they had the sickest team and the biggest following within the community. By that i mean if you followed snowboarding then like we do now you knew who those guys were. Burton at the time had been losing core following over the first part of the decade do to a CORPORATE mind set; hence why Rome was started. O.G. burton guys that were fed up with Jake and his I am the godfather of snowboarding mentality. Now on to Forum; I have been a huge fan of forum for a long time probably 97 98 was when i discovered them and rode till the big b purchased them. Forum in my mind should have disappeared a long time ago when it was originally sold to burton. The team was falling apart, peter didn’t care anymore, and the image was dying. So yes i guess maybe this was coming, but thanks to burton with their impecable timing now every retailer and web shop have to move this product with the future of forum obvious and public. so to Jake Burton and all his lil shaun white wanna bes. FUCK YOU EAT A BAG OF DICKS. YOU ARE THE WORST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO SNOWBOARDING. WHY DONT YOU SHUT BURTON AK ANALOG RED DOWN AND KEEP THE BRANDS THAT MEAN SOMETHING TO THE REST OF US. BURTON IS FOR THE GAPERS AND WANNA BEES.

  12. Cabbage says:

    @ODV so Burton is the worst thing that happend to snowboarding where do you suppose we would be if not for Burton and what they did in the 80’s and 90’s between him and tom simms they helped create and shape what snowboarding is today. I’ve beat the shit out of their stuff and it was worth the money. I got well over a hundred days on a burton board and bindings and about 130-150 good days out of their boots. I love how everyone is so they are corporate look at most of the biggest companies out in the snowboard world and see who owns them. shit for a while mervin was owned by a publicly traded company ( quiksilver who currently owns DC) and volcom is owned by a huge global conglomerate but no one says im not buying volcom fuck them in fact most volcom buyers feel so anti corporate. So with your mindset terje, jussi, travis rice, and the whole volcom team are gapers and wannabees because they ride for brands that we “core” snow boarders who should be anti-corporate should not care about? It was a business decision that was made by a privately held company made about their company. It will happen again and again and it does suck but if the core riders don’t support the companies they like with purchases to make it profitable then they all will go away.

  13. tim says:

    ^^^ yeah burton boards are the things really holding their team back from killing aye… guess they must be riding different burton boards than the people that can “barely ride”

  14. e says:

    Burton bought Forum for a $1 & had to pay off their huge multi millions debt. Forum didn’t have a patent on the slider system, that belongs to the old revolution factory in canada…they use to build crapitas back then. Once Jackson made the move to burton it was just a amount of time before it was over. Burton’s patents are on the ref stance window shite ont the channel.

  15. Jenise says:

    @ODV
    :O

    You sound really bitter… Or you’re just doing the whole “hate on Burton to look cool” thing.
    All of the Burton products I’ve owned have been awesome. My last pair of Burton boots lasted for three seasons. I still throw them on if my other boots are wet. My current Burton boots I’ve worn probably 90 days and they’re still as good as when I got them last season. Then there’s their AK line that has a LIFETIME warranty. I don’t know any other company that offers that warranty.
    Horrible corporate mindset? Funny because Burton is still run by the guy who started it and does a lot to give back to the community. Look up Chill.
    Everyone I know that works for Burton absolutely loves snowboarding and lives snowboarding. I would hardly consider any of them “wannabes” or “gapers.” If I made a list of companies that are for “gapers” or “wannabes” there’s easily 30 other that would top Burton.
    Maybe you should check yourself before freaking out.
    Go out and actually get some Burton products before making assumptions/trying to be cool.

    +everything @cabbage said

  16. [...] biggest loss in snowboarding wasn’t from Burton killing off The Program but the passing of Tom Sims. We owe him a lot and whether you acknowledge it or not you should at [...]

  17. Mark1912 says:

    What burton is doing is classic big buisness strategy. There’s ALOT of underlying details why forum special blend and four square are at where they’re at but from Burton’s side Ill guarantee you it didn’t matter. The larger company sees the smaller ones gaining ground so the larger company buys up all the little companies. it would be very easy to just crush them right away but it’s bad publicity to do that. It would make burton look like a huge corporate villian (which they are..). instead they play the role of the “hero” and pretend to try to keep the smaller companies alive and profitable. In reality burton slowly killed the companies by starvation. When the companies were so unreconizable to the general public, burton throws up the white flag and says “hey we did all we could do but these companies just aren’t that good”, leaving them looking like modern day saints. you expect this kind of gameplay from big corporations but not from a supposed grass roots company. Burton, Nike, Adidas… It’s all the same now

  18. Iron toph says:

    I just purchased a Destroyer Double Dog, who cares, I’ll ride that @*#ch till the wheels fall off. Get off line and go shread for dying companies, new companies “NOW IPO” and if the mountain is closed wax or detune. Sh*# comes and goes MAN!

  19. Pretty sure I clock more days than most mere mortals. But thanks for your concerns that I should ride more.

  20. Iron toph says:

    That wasn’t directed towards you, it was meant to be a general life goes on post. But hey since I got your attention, thanks for Ur response as I value your opinion, which would you go for with that doubled. K2 Company IPO of Now IPO bindings, doesn’t hurt to ask..

  21. More skate style IPO more canting and features Company.

  22. Bart says:

    Forum is pro, Burton sucks. They remove Forum from the line simply because Forum knows how to make high-end stuff without asking the jackpot price for it. Now that Burton is not making enough money on the main-brand, they pull the plug out. What a total laugh. Burton can kiss my …

  23. seb says:

    burton does make some quality product but i like smaller companies way more. You cant compare the quality of a Rome board or specially the quality of Neversummer with burton, you just cant. ive ridden at least 4 burton decks and i didnt fall in love with any of them, then i got my hands on a neversummer SL and that is seriously the most beautiful creation in the history of humanity, the quality, the technology and the overall feel of the board is like none of the burton boards ive ridden. I also own a Rome artifact camber and that is well within my top 5 of jib boards ive tried ( there isnt a single burton in that list) i dont understand why people go all hate on burton like they are not that bad but they are also not as good as a lot of people proclaim them to be.

  24. RaRa says:

    Yeah I agree with seb, burton’s quality is average.

    Jenise, I think you are doing the whole “it’s cool to no longer hate on Burton or Shawn White because I’m a hipster” thing

    Jake Burton is a douche

  25. […] leaves snowboarding. Nike has caused it to an extent and there are people still coping with Forum’s demise years later. We as snowboarders become emotionally invested in the brands that give us […]

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