The Four Masters Of Snowboarding

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.

2.The Shops
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.

3.The Team.
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.

4.The Dollar
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.

Andrew Guddat

Asks too many questions.

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  1. e says:

    What about the product? That should be #1 Master, otherwise whats the point. Team can help a lot, but hard to work with people that are filiming all winter or are on a contest circuit. Good to have regional teamriders that know something about product & care about the brand, not people who just want a free board.

    As far as shops, especially these days these are tough for any brand especially small brands. Shops should be a goal for a new little company but is better off focusing on Prod/CS/Sales/Marketing/Team so you can get a name making it easier to get into a shop. Also, find a shop that will pay, is willing to help & be helped & not just hold the product for 8 months & send it back scratched up. Nothing more fun than dealing with collections.

    All in all it is about the customer/rider as you said, best salesman is a happy customer & it makes the whole thing worth it.

  2. Doug says:

    words of wisdom up there ^

    Team is fun, and team is product development and marketing and spreading the word. Plus we place bets on them ;)

    e, i agree with your thoughts on shops, but there are still good shops out there…

    everyone wants a free board, of course. I try to make sure our few team riders get theirs before we get them, though none of them have been free for us, yet…

  3. A says:

    Product quality and development falls under serving riders. If you care about em your not going to sell em a POS product.

  4. Joey Odom says:

    Hey! Thats my shop, And my team….. WTF Avran are you stalking me!

  5. Winters says:

    Everyone Stalks you Joey

  6. Agreed on all of this – great thoughtful post.

    One thing I have noticed in the past few years is that for small brands, it can be artificially hard to get into the shops. I like the product of the larger guys (the contraband is my favorite binding, for instance) but these companies often serve other masters than the 4 above – namely, their own bloat and inertia.

    Shops and shop employees are the front lines in educating consumers about new products, but unfortunately it seems that some have given up on pushing the envelope, ordering a shop full of the big 3 and carrying little that is new. With fortunes less certain, they keep buying what worked last season to the exclusion of all else, and then wonder why people aren’t coming in as often to see “what’s new”. It’s because, well – nothing is new. It’s the same stuff from the same company last year.

    That’s not always the case, obviously – testing new stuff and getting it on the shelf is part of what good shops do. Shops like Eternal, abve, or Blauers in Bear, or the Big Hit near Angry—they’re the guys that lead the way on breathing new life into a fairly stale retail climate. One buyer at SIA came to us, interested in our outrwear for instance, and said “everything else at the show is boring.” Other shops should take note; your shop needs new brands and REAL customer service to be competitive.

    Without these components, there’s nothing major to prevent people from buying the same-old same-old from online shops instead, and for less money. It’s a bit like a theater; if your theater only show the same movies for 6 months at a time, it would be hard to convince people to not choose Netflix at home instead. Store product mixes and the retail experience needs tweaking the same way to keep customers engaged and seeking local shops for guidance on what’s hot.

  7. A says:

    That’s heavy.

  8. This Was a Tarp says:

    “Any company worth two shits should be willing to take some time out of their day and acknowledge who you are, what *your* about and any words of advice you have for them.”

    You’re = you are. <-That's the one you want.
    I don't expect the commentary to know the difference, but if you're publishing something with a byline, use the right goddamned word.

  9. Andrew says:

    Thanks Tarp.

  10. Britt says:

    “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. ”

    This is something that is so difficult to find now, with so many shops becoming trend factories with 17yr old skinny jeaned kids that have never done more than glance at the mountains. You really hit home to the vision I have to create a community-based store, where you come to hang out, shoot the shit, drink a coffee. Making a dollar won’t and shouldn’t be the focus. These spots are few and far between, and so many drift away from a solid core value they started with. Luckily we’ve got a good group that still believes in this.

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