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A ski company that goes out of its way to teach its customers how to build their own skis? Waesche says he isn't afraid of a little competition. "If you're a good skier with some basic understanding of ski construction, the right materials, some basic tools and access to a press, you actually could build a ski in your garage," he says. "It might take you about 24 hours and end up costing you a lot of money, but you could do it. It's when you try to mass-produce them that it becomes a big problem."

When RMU outgrew its garage, Waesche and his business partners were determined to keep production in Colorado and moved their manufacturing operation to the Never Summer factory. Never Summer is celebrating its twentieth anniversary in the snowboard business this season, and has expanded in recent years to help keep other Colorado companies from taking their manufacturing needs overseas. In addition to making RMU's skis — which won nods this year in Powder's Skier's Choice 2012, the 2012 Telemark Skier Awards, and the Freeskier 2011-2012 Editor's Pick Awards — Never Summer now manufactures skis for Colorado brands Icelantic, Fat-ypus, and High Society Freeride.

"I don't even see the other brands here in Colorado as competition," says Waesche, a sentiment echoed by each of the local ski builders in this story. "Hell, a lot of us share resources, especially those of us manufacturing with Never Summer. The way I see it, we're all in it together."

That culture of collaboration is very much on Sullivan's mind as he makes his final preparations for the Something Independent 2012 Business Forum, which will feature panelists including POC Sports founder Stefan Ytterborn, Teton Gravity Research co-founder Steve Jones, Silverton Mountain co-owner Jen Brill, AEG Live CEO Chuck Morris, and Ken Gart, co-owner of Powderhorn Resort.

"Our belief is that collaboration over competition is the future of work and the future of business, and that each of these companies can and should be sharing resources, information and know-how quickly and transparently," Sullivan says, and he's walking the walk: Something Independent is one of a dozen companies — including Icelantic and ski-clothing giant Spyder — housed at Battery 621, the shared space at 621 Kalamath Street that has become a model for such collaboration. "To be working behind closed doors in the 21st century is to find yourself chasing the pack."

In Colorado, that pack is growing stronger by the day.

"Colorado has always attracted the kind of people who are inclined to take some risks to pursue their passions and merge lifestyle with business, to blur the lines between their vocation and their avocation," Sullivan says. "There's a long tradition here, and particularly within the ski industry, of entrepreneurs creating opportunities for themselves. When you run your own business, you can grant yourself a ski day now and then."

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6 comments
MichaelJacksonsforgottoncat
MichaelJacksonsforgottoncat

ummmmm .... Volant? Went from 150 pair in 1989 to 52,000 pair and tied with Volkl at #4 in the industry 11 years later - every pair was 100% hand made. Cost per unit in the US was simply too much compared to the over seas manufacturing (165.00 per pair compared to 52.00 per pair). Even with the lowest warranty rate/highest quality in the industry (and very very deep investor pockets), there was no way to win/be viable long term. I am sure the folks who used to take the ferry to Vashon, and the Boulderites that rode their bikes to Howards place in Gunbarrel would also agree....

Matt Egan
Matt Egan

Let's hear it for small business and American manufacturing. America needs more garage companies that will grow and HIRE! Corporate America ain't doin' shit.

R. Randall Halton
R. Randall Halton

Thats wonderful this this person has his own construction techniques!!!!! Better get WIPO.com.

____________________ =^= (-----) ' ' HELI SKI dropouts

Jake Miller
Jake Miller

I think I'll get a Grace custom ski if David is making them.... hot!

everybody
everybody

Volants were doomed from day one for their weight, and the fact that you could bend one in half and it would stay that way. Junk. Worth nothing.

 
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