Seems like everyone is starting a company nowadays, maybe to the point where it’s getting a little out of hand. I hear a lot of complaints from people about how the industry is becoming over-saturated with too many companies. Personally I am enthusiastic about the influx of self starters via the Internet and global economy. Consumers who are dissatisfied with companies can now become competitors. However I am somewhat frustrated at how many people don’t seem to be putting an ounce of forethought into why they are starting a company, or what their company mission is. Literally, a drunk crackhead puts more forethought into birth control than some of these guys do into their companies. The industry isn’t becoming over-saturated with too many companies, its becoming over-saturated with too many pointless and bland companies.
I got started with what I’m doing now because of a simple philosophy. “Every company serves four masters.” I wasn’t satisfied with the way any companies were holding their priorities or serving the said, “Four Masters” so I started competing with them. Here’s my list of what every company’s masters should be.
1. The Riders
Almost any company holds its customers as a high priority. You can really test this with how much effort is put into replying to an email or answering a question posed on the company Facebook. Companies can serve the riders in many different ways, but the biggest one that I think we see lacking is person-ability. Taking the time to get to know the people riding your product costs time and money. Any company worth two shits should be willing to take some time out of their day and acknowledge who you are, what you’re about and any words of advice you have for them. You should be able to get to know someone at any company on a personal level, weather it’s a rep, a owner or the intern that sends out stickers. If you can’t consider yourself a friend of a company then that company isn’t placing you as a high enough priority.
Shops are getting totally thrown under the bus right now. Many of the DIY companies are either too lazy or too inexperienced to find a good shop to sell through. Some of this is happening because so many of us have forgotten what a good shop looks like as they are getting harder and harder to find. A good shop fosters the wayward snowboarder and links us all together, it gives us a place to come back to and community to build upon. Companies that are trying to support shops are companies that care about the local cultures and communities. They care about snowboarding.
Some might look at a team as just a means of company promotion, but a properly run team eventually grows into so much more than a group of snowboarders behind a product. It starts to become a crew of best friends, dedicated to pushing the limits and influencing and helping others progress their snowboarding. On top of that they help you put out the best possible product to the riders you can. A company with no team is a company that doesn’t like pushing the envelope.
99% of people will tell you all businesses are in business to make a profit, I can tell you from my personal experience that’s not always true. I know plenty of people who are working in snowboarding just for industry change or to put a smile on the faces of the next generation of young snowboarders. If they can break even, they are happy campers. A company needs to care about its finances so it can continue to grow and not go under. However not to the degree that it hurts the ability to help riders and shops and the team.
As riders we all have an obligation to do what is best for snowboarding, next time you buy something think about what you’re really doing for snowboarding and who you’re serving. There are companies dying to hear what you have to say and shops just waiting to welcome you to the family, support snowboarding, support culture, support your friends (If they aren’t morons) and buy smart.