Founder of ON3P Skis, Scott Andrus, hopped into Ski Gabber to answer our questions about the company.
How long did it take for ON3P to 'take off'? -Moon_Shoes
I guess I would describe us as still taking off. We are definitely a work in progress and a lot of skiers still have no idea who we are. I think on NS, the release of the Filthy Rich really helped us gain a lot of traction. Obviously we have a lot of support on NS, which sometimes rubs people the wrong way, but the response from the NS community has been great, particularly because we are all still very much a part of this community. Also, there is no question working with Karl has done a ton for our brand and vice versa. On the retail front, getting picked up by evo was really a dream come true, and they continue to be one of our closest retailers and are awesome to work with. So...how long? We're going on our 6th production year and I think are just on the cusp of making this something special, but a lot of hard work remains before we get there.
Please explain how ON3P was almost thwarted in its infancy by one of the cats in the poll (Charlie Murphy & Dante). -Literature
The Tacoma days were pretty tight money wise, as you would expect while in college, so there was often months on end where all I could afford to do what buy a single tool. So one month I would buy a router, another month a jig saw, and so on. Well, one of my cats at the time, Charlie Murphy, was in his young and rambunctious stage and one time came home with a giant gaping wound on his hip. I took him to the ER vet, who wanted $1000+ to put him under and stitch him up. That just wasn't going to happen. So I paid something like $100 for just the ER vet examine, and took him to a local vet by campus. The guy was an old school vet and without putting Charlie under or anything, just grabs him, spins him around, has his assistant hold him down, and just staples this gaping wound in his side shut like it was nothing. I don't remember what he charged me, but is was nothing compared to what the ER vet wanted, so I got off lucky there. Then a few months later, Charlie Murphy developed feline urinary tract issues (basically cat kidney stones) and again took him to the vet. They basically said if they didn't pass soon, he would have to have surgery and it was going to be in the thousands of dollars, which would have crippled any change at ON3P going forward. The vet ended up taking him in for a weekend, and the stones passed, and he went on a different type of food to help with them and all was well. If you have cats, I strongly suggest wet food, as the change from dry to wet food really helped with a lot of the issues he was having. Anyway, so yeah, pets in college are awesome until the vet is telling you he might need $2500 to free a bunch of crystals from your cat's urethra. In the event that you do need a vet in Tacoma, Dr. Hoff at 6th Ave Veterinary Hospital is a boss.
why is your username iggyskier? -Krotch
I used to be pretty obsessed with Igneous Skis out of Jackson when I was younger, and ended up getting 4 different pairs over late high school & early college. I still think they are some of the best ski builders in the world, and one of the few skibuilders with build quality I actually respect. The Cease & Desist and the current Billy Goat are still part of my drive to combine two of my favorite non-ON3P skis of all time - the 190cm Igneous FFF and Volant Spatula - into a ski that can lock in and make big, stable turns, then smear at ease. The BG & CD are both designed with this in mind.
What is your favorite graphic that have been on a stock ski? (exclude grizzlecorns, Eh!, and ugliest topsheet) -Krotch
Usually changes every year. Right now it is either the 14/15 Billy Goat or 14/15 Kartel 106.
What ski in the lineup right now is closest in terms of how it was built, to the originals you were slanging up in your garage? -Krotch
Well, build quality between Tacoma and now isn't even close. Tacoma was rough to say the least. As far as basic design elements, so sidecut and dimensions, the original Caylor and original Jeronimo are very similar to the Jeffrey 122 and Jeffrey 114, respectively.
Original Caylor = 191cm, 147/121/144, 26.8m
Jeffrey 122 = 191cm, 148/122/140, 27.0m
Original Jeronimo = 186cm, 145/115/142, 21.6m
Jeffrey 114 = 186cm, 141/114/133, 24.9m
More ugly topsheets please? -cydwhit
Maybe we will build it back next year. We felt it sort of lost steam in its last year, so that is why we haven't done any since. If there is some demand for it, we will consider bringing it back again for 15/16.
Can you give us a little info on the backstory/motivation to get your guys into the Valhalla summer segment? -cydwhit
The motivation was all by the Valhalla guys and the team members that were up there shooting. We talked with Sweetgrass and they said they were interested in having Karl go up and shoot, which we were all about obviously. Sander got involved too. But the motivation was all the Sweetgrass guys and the crew of athletes they had up there, as it was without a doubt one of the most difficult and labor intensive shoots I've ever heard about.
What is your favorite ski to ride that you have ever built? -cydwhit
The first pair of 191cm Wrenegade obviously means a lot to me (ski #3 & #4, ever) as they were the first pair ever skied and they skied well. I actually still have almost all of my personal Tacoma skis around. But my favorite ski to ride is a 191cm Billy Goat, though I suspect that will change as of SIA this year (wink wink).
What's your favorite ON3P ski and what's your favorite topsheet? -DeRizzo
191cm BIlly Goat, and for graphics (the long answer) 14/15 Billy Goat or 14/15 Kartel 106 currently. I also am a big fan of the 10/11 Wrenegade, 13/14 Wrenegade, 12/13 Jeronimo, 12/13 Caylor, and the 14/15 Jeffrey 114. I don't think enough can be said about the work of our creative team, and there is no one else I would rather having doing our graphic and creative work.
Will you be looking into expanding into junior skis for lil rippers -speedyswapster34
Plans are for ON3P to drop a 2 ski kids line for 16/17. Right now, the newest additions will be a 3 ski women's line released for the 15/16 season.
RES jib ski... we want the infos! -jca
Honestly, right now I don't know if this one ends up going to production. We shall see, as it is still early in the development process. We are going to keep testing and tinkering, but one of the key aspects of the RES design is the pintail, which is hard to maintain in a ski that you want to have good switch performance. We still haven't got the balance down right, so I feel the ski isn't smearing quite as well as it should. So we will keep testing, but until I believe the performance surpases that of the Jeffrey 114, it will stay in development.
What parts of the ski building process do you like the most, hate the most, and why? -NinetyFour
I have always liked layup the most as it is the process where everything finally becomes a ski. I just personally felt it was always the most interesting and rewarding part of the ski building process. Most hated? This is going to be a bit weird, but I hate scraping skis. Most factories just throw a coat of wax on the skis and buff it off and call it good. At ON3P we hotbox every pair, so if you don't put enough wax on the base, it will dry out in the hotbox. As such, was have to put a thicker coat on the ski and hand scrap every ski, as it is too thick to buff off. Scraping hundreds of skis per month would drive me crazy.
What's the coolest tool you have in the factory? -NinetyFour
Tie between our pneumatically controlled, automated annealer, which I can't show or talk about, but was designed and built by our Material Manager Kip Kirol (caveman.) and has significantly upped the control we have over our edge prep, and our two wet deflashers, which were custom built for us by our friend/building manager and are amazing and a huge time saver. They rival anything I've seen in any ski factory out there.
We have a bunch of other cool tools in here, but in the scheme of things, our cnc router, ski presses, and finishing equipment are similar to what you will see in any other ski factory.
Your skis are long. Why the emphasis on length? Specifically, you're making skis longer than most companies out there. -immas
I am assuming you are talking about how a 181cm ON3P is longer than a 181cm from most other brands. I view it as making our skis correctly. When I started designing skis, it always blew my mind when I would see a 185cm ski come in around 181cm long. It is actually one of the catalyst that started ON3P, as I got a pair of skis out of a small builder out of Canada that is now defunked, and they were supposed to be 184cm and were shorter than my 179cm Seth Pistols. I just wanted the actual ski length to match the listed ski length.
Most companies measure pre-pressing flat base length, so a 185cm ski will have a flat base that is 185cm long. Add tip shape and a full twin and suddenly that ski is 181cm long. We measure post-pressing tip to tail length, so that a 189cm long flat base will end up with a ski that is 185cm long. Just a different approach.
If you are referring to our skis not being available in shorter sizes until recently, that was just a recognition of our market and production realities. Now we have 4 different models available in under 170cm in length, so we do have some shorter options available. We just didn't have the sales early on to justify shorter skis, and short skis continue to be our lowest selling models.
How in touch was Scott was with ON3P during the whole great scott thing? --emile-
I won't say too much. Almost all of it was done through email with their lawyers. We did get a phone call the morning we dropped the news from someone at Scott, who thought we were making it up and was really heated. When we forwarded all the info to them, and they knew it was real, they quickly realized they shouldn't be talking with us.
Does it bother you that no one seems to realize that you're the smartest, most clever, most physically fit? Seems like no one takes you seriously. -J.D.
It will be my time soon.
How has Rowen lasted so long without being sent to a gulag? If you don't like one of these questions will I be sent to a gulag? -J.D.
It will be Rowen's time soon.
True or false: there is a banner that reads "ALL HAIL GLORIOUS LEADER" in the shop. -J.D.
skis on skis on skis // Photo: Erica Aarons
What's your favorite Lagunitas beer? -ERICA.MN
Probably Little Sumpin.
Does Caylor Swift break out into Taylor Swift tunes very often? -ERICA.MN
No, but Kip often starts yelling crust punk. It is very alarming.
What's the largest challenge you've had to overcome as a small business owner? -ERICA.MN
Cash flow and the time it takes to build your own product. Skiing is seasonal, so you take in 75% of your revenue in a 4-5 month period. If things didn't go great in those 4-5 months, you are going to have a tough year. We are also competing with brands who don't build their own product, making them essentially marking companies who design, market, and sell skis. We build all of our own product, so the time requirement just to get the product buit is huge. Then you have to balance in all the aspects of running the business, marketing the production (on very little budget, as most of our budget goes towards running our factory), talking to retailers, and so on. 90% of the time, we are actively building skis, so it can be hard to out market and out sell brands who are marketing and selling a product 100% of the time.
Eagle rare or four roses? -cobra_commander
Ardbeg, Lagavulin, or Stranahan's.
Best ON3P ever made? -Caveman.
The Billy Goat, but I think that will change soon
How large is your production scale? -broto
We don't share actual production numbers, but we'll build more skis this month that we did in our entire first year, and more skis this week than I did in Tacoma.
What happened to the oars? -steezburgereddie
Still around, they get taken out from time to time. As long as they are pointed down the mountain, they are pretty fun.
How big of an impact has NS had on the success of ON3P? -406
Obviously it has been huge. ON3P was born on NS and it has played an integral part in helping to both define and build our brand. Without NS there is no ON3P.
What makes your bamboo cores stand out from others? -immas
To me, it is the feel of the ski. Our skis are damp but responsive, and I've never felt anytime similar (except a Kingswood). At speed, you don't feel every little bump like you do with poplar or aspen, but when you load the ski up, they have a really nice, smooth responsive feel and have a lot of energy. Bamboo has definitely ruined other core materials for me.
What is the best name given to a shop tool? -caveman.
The only tool that really has a name is our rubber mallet, which got the name the Persuader while in Tacoma, as it was very effective and pounding the beams for my original ski press together.
Anything I am missing?
2015 186 Wrenegade or Tacoma 191 Wrenegades? -cobra_commander
As I am quickly approaching 30 and ski in Oregon, the 186cm Wren 112. But if I was skiing Crystal again, I would probably go with a 13/14 191cm Wren.
Will you sell veneer skis forever as an homage to Igneous? -Pudge
I think we will keep selling it as long as people are interested. They are very time consuming, and are still all cut by hand by our Production Manager Trevor Leaf. They aren't very scalable currently, so I don't see doing more than 20-25 per year.
Where do you think the most innovation in any form of skiing product will come from within the next 10 years? -NinetyFour
I only really think about skis right now, so I will have to limit it to that...
It's tough to say, as I think at least in the foreseeable future, it will be tough to top rocker and taper/reverse sidecut in ski development. Obviously we've tried to go out on our own here with RES, for which the tech side I think still confuses people, as it never really gets any hype even though when you know how it works compared to a traditional sidecut ski, it is pretty crazy. Our focus right now is really on refinement and better build quality and finishing. The tech stuff will come, but I think a lot of companies try to focus on it too much with bullshit that is recycled or just doesn't actually contribute to the ski itself, instead of just building the skis better. We really don't buy into a lot of "tech" we see, which is why we we just let the skis speak for themselves. We have lots of ideas on where things could go, but until you try it and ski it, it is hard to tell what will happen.
I know we will continue to focus on ways to improve the materials we use and the finish of the skis we put out. Every year we make big steps forward in terms of finish quality and QC, so we will continue to push for better and better built skis. One area that I am interest in is finding more environmentally friendly, lighter weight plastics that provide similar durability characteristics. This will affect ski stiffness and dampness as well, so you will have to compensate for that, but it would help make a ski lighter while maintaining good durability. We use bamboo sidewalls on prototypes sometimes, but I don't personally buy a lot of the wood sidewalls you see out there. Durability is our number one priority, before weight, so until we feel a lighter weight material matches UHMW for sidewall and tipspacer durability, we will continue using it. We are also starting to get more custom composites produced to our specs, and are finally at the size where we can order custom material at volume, so we will continue to test all sorts of new materials going forward.
Outside of skis, I really can't say. I am sure we are going to see some big advances in outerwear tech, google tech, boot tech, binding tech. Definitely an exciting time to be a skier.
Will you ever be looking at sponsoring more rad events like the Beartooth Summer Sessions? -cydwhit
Sure, but they are hard to come by. There is a ton of time and man hours that goes into them, so because we are focused on building skis, it is hard to have time for much else. The Beartooth Summer Session is really Kip Kirol's brainchild, and it took a lot of time and effort to really turn it into a sustainable and unique event, though I think we are finally there after the fourth year. If an event similar to that comes up, it will definitely garner some interest on our end, but nothing is on the radar at the moment.
After many years of hard work you have seen your company progress from a garage based hobby, to a legitimate business, to a rapidly expanding and growing brand. You have grown from a small PNW based company to a globally retailed brand of skis. What do you see for the future of ON3P and what direction do you want the company to follow now? -B.Gillis
Our big focus right now is expanding our retail program. It is tough, as there as so many new brands (I would say I hear of at least 2-4 new brands per month) and there have been a lot of indies who made pretty terrible skis early on, so lots of shops still are very wary of indies. We have a ton of room to grow on the retail front, both domestically and internationally, so you will see us continue to try to find the right retailers to work with around the world. As for direction, we really don't want to change a thing. I think we've done a good job staying true to who we are and what we are about, so now we are just trying to continue down that path and keep doing what we want, just on a larger scale. It can be tough to stick to those ideals, especially as things expand, but our focus is to keep building skis the right way and that won't change going forward.
What kind of quality control do you guys do? The durability of my 11/12 jeronimos has amazed me. -broto
The biggest thing is that the skis are so hands on that every step of the process involves QC, so everyone has a good eye for when something is off. So at every step in the process, stuff is being recorded and pulled if anything seems wrong. This occurs in pretty much every stage - edge prep, sandblasting, base prep, shaping cores, profiling cores, core layup, ski layup. At every step of the process, if the part is pushed down the line, it has cleared QC for that station. Then in finishing, again, it is very hands on and the skis are checked at each step. Once flattening starts, the skis are checked with a true bar at each machine to ensure they are flat, and since we are doing all the base finishing by hand and it isn't a machine doing the flattening and structure, it is easy to tell when a ski is correctly flattened and structured vs when it is not. It blows my mind how bad the base finishing is on many of the skis I see in shops these days. Once the skis are through the machines, they go to hand finishing, and again, they are processed by a human at each station, and cleared by stations. So the skis are scraped and the bases are checked for scratches and flatness with a true bar. Then we check all the meets with a razor blade to ensure the bonding is correct. After the topsheet protector is pulled, the skis are weights to ensure they fall within the correct specs for the skis.
We have gotten a lot better about recording all the skis' data now too. We know who/when prepped the base, who/when laid up the cores, who/when pressed the ski, what the press temp was, what the ambient air temp was, any other notes, and so on. So it has allowed us to problem solve more efficiently as we know exactly where and when a problem arose.
We've also seen a huge jump in our QC by bringing more processes in house - sandblasting being the thing that saw the biggest improvement when we brought it in house about 2 years ago. Also, adding the CNC has resulting in a huge decrease in material waste and better QC on all of our cores.
The other thing to note is that QC & finish quality are one thing, but durability is also about the materials and that starts before a ski even starts down the building process. We are using UHMW on all of our sidewalls, which is far more durable than wood or ABS, a 1.8mm thick 4001 durasurf base and 2.5mm x 2.5mm thick edge (the thickest we can get, though we've explored getting thicker, just don't have the volume to order the material needed for them yet), and a 100% bamboo core. That creates a really solid ski before you even start the build process.
How did you finally decide to stop pursuing medical school, and commit to ON3P? Was this hard to reconcile with yourself? -SKI.ING
My senior year was a bit weird. I was trying to do ON3P on the side, while being a normal college senior (aka party) and finish a senior thesis that turned out to be over 100 pages when it was done. So I graduated basically still on that pre-med path, but I just couldn't really think about anything but building skis. I spent the next two months building skis, along with some friends (Rowen, Josh, Caylor, David), and then moved to Portland. I looked around for other jobs pretty halfheartedly, and just sort of realized if I didn't at least try to make ON3P into a reality, I would always wonder what would have happened. So I started to get a business plan together and things went from there. It wasn't hard to reconcile because it was literally all I could think about at the time (and remained true to this day). That said, if I ever did anything else, I would at least consider medicine again. I still find it fascinating and think I would really enjoyed the work.
And was it hard telling family and friends about your decision or were they supportive? -SKI.ING
My parents are ON3P's biggest supporters, so it wasn't hard, because it had been building for so long that it seemed sort of inevitable by the time things got going. They want me to do what makes me happy, so they are incredibly supportive. Without their support, none of this would have happened. My friends had a more mixed reaction, generally along the lines of people thinking I was crazy and that it was just sort of a weird hobby I had, but here we are...
Most rewarding part of what you do? -Sklar
Hearing from people who enjoy the skis. No question.
Sam Caylor buried in skis // Photo: ON3P
Most memorable UPS moments? -Sklar
Yeah...my mom is gonna read this, so not a lot I can really post. Scariest moment was probably almost getting hit head on by a car running from the cops the wrong way on I-5 my first week in Tacoma. It crossed in front of us and we missed them by like 15-20 feet, and both of us were cruising. I don't think I would be here had we collided. That was my first introduction to Tacoma, which back in 2004 was still a bit sporting. We used to hear occasional gun shots from our dorm room (A&L). It has gotten quite a bit nicer in the past decade (to be honest, even between 2004 & 2008 when I graduated). Sam Caylor also almost got run over one time by some guy going about 60 MPH down a residential street while he was loading up his car with skis. He literally jumped out of the way. Or going to a nicer restaurant in downtown Tacoma after my graduation with my parents, grandma, and brother & sister and noticing bullet holes in the window when we walked in. Tacoma is a bit of a strange place..
It seems like you all had a lot of the grassroots, goofy vibe a lot of companies are striving for now, any thoughts on that shift in marketing where it seems like a lot of the industry is moving away from super polished, traditional marketing to a style a little more like ON3P's? -cydwhit
I suspect it is really about trying to make a personal connection with a potential customer, even though many are part of giant corporations with shareholders and publically traded shares. The change in social media has also made it much easier to interact one on one, so that is hard to do that while maintaining a super corporate, polished look. It is nice to connect with someone on a personal level, so I think the attempt to try and make many of these larger brands seem less corporate is probably a good move for them. I think often times it comes off a bit awkward, but I understand why they are doing it. For us, there are 9 of us and we are selling to people just like us, building a product that is completely ours, and don't have to answer to shareholders or worry about stock price, so we get to just do our own thing and for the most part, I think people have a good idea what we are all about.
You guys probably have a million tools and stuff like that, so what, if any, other things have you made besides skis and presses? Not necessarily to sell, just for fun works too. -DrZoidberg
Honestly, mostly what we have build is the factory itself and our own equipment. Our current factory was completely blank when we started, so all the building was done ourselves so that has taken a long time. We build one off things here and there, but nothing is really jumping to mind. Now that we have our own CNC in house, I suspect that we will have the chance to build a lot of things we didn't have the opportunity to before. I am sure some ON3P skateboards and maybe a surfboard happen sometime in the next few years.
Maybe he was referring to employees... and was fishing for his own name to be pulled up? As far as mentioning Igneous goes, how often do you buy or demo skis from other manufacturers? -NinetyFour
Buy? Never. Every once in awhile we will get skis from other brands in here and cut them up so we can feel better about our skis :D.
Demo? When we go to industry demos, we usually have a list of 10-15 skis from other brands that we send people out to test just to have an idea of what else is out there. But to be honest, there are SO many other brands now and SO many skis out there, you can really only worry about what you are doing. With that in mind, we tend to just focus on our brand and making sure we are doing what we can to make our skis better, rather than worrying about what everyone else is doing.
Where do you want to bring ON3P in the future , do you want to keep a small scale core feeling or would you like to see it grow to a big company? --emile-
We would like to keep the brand relatively small. We really value the personal interaction we get to have within the community and I don't see that ever changing. We also have no desire to branch outside of freeride skis, so you won't ever see us put out carving skis or stuff designed for recreational skiers. You see a lot of brands branch out into outerwear, packs, etc. Right now, we want to just focus on what we do well, which is build skis. A small softgoods line will get going soon, but besides that, we just want to build the best skis and let everyone else worry about the rest. Production wise, we want to ramp up our volume considerably the next 3-5 years, but ever at that size would we remain on the small end compared to many other brands.
Under what circumstances would you allow ON3P to be bought by a listed company like Amer? -Pudge
Probably the hardest question I've been asked tonight. We're not looking to be bought. The circumstances in which we would consider it? I can't even think of a realistic scenario where this would happen.
The bottom line is Amer and other corporations are about turning a profit for shareholders, and it is a lot cheaper to do that in a factory they already use. I also don't see us getting big enough that they would ever be interested, as K2 Sports was with Line. Line was really on the cusp of the freeskiing world blowing up and was the only small freeskiing brand around. We are in a market now full of small brands, so I just don't see it as a situation we have to concern ourselves with.
I know I would never sell the brand if it meant taking our production elsewhere, because then we are just another marketing company designing skis and having someone do all the work for us, and building our own product is a huge part of our identity. I don't see the point in doing it if we can't say these skis we sell are actually our own.
Also, many of us try to get into the ski industry because we love skiing and it has the perception that it will allow us to ski more. How has ON3P affected your time on the hill? Are you content with your work load and schedules and how much you make from it? -broto
First off, I am probably atypical. I founded/run a brand, where the vast majority of people in snowsports are working it just like any job, so my hours are not normal (I easily work 3000+ hours/year), but I like what I do, so it is what it is. I ski far less than most, but that will improve over time. When I do ski, I get to be extremely picky. I don't ski weekends, and can pick my days so I can ski only when it is snowing. I am content with my workload, schedule, and pay because I love what I do. Would it be nice to make more money, have an easier schedule, and less of a workload? Sure, that applies to anyone, including everyone here. As we grow and make this thing work, the rest of the things will fall into place, and I would much rather do what I love than worry about money or workload first. That isn't true for everyone, but I am fortunate I get to make that choice.
I should say, I feel like a lot of people get into the ski industry because they want to work for some cool company or think it will all be drinking beer, skiing powder, and hanging out (which is, of course, part of it, but far from all of it). There are useless people who definitely get into skiing thinking that way. For everyone else trying to make it a career, though, it is a job just like any other. You have good days, bad days, and the same day-in-and-day-out grind of any other job. There are certainly perks compared to other industries, but if you expect to get a job in skiing and then just hang out and ski the rest of your life, you're in for a surprise.
If you find something you are actually passionate doing in the industry, do it. But make sure you are passionate about your job, not just the perks, because if you don't like your job, the perks won't be enough to make it worth your while.
What do you think could be improved about the ski industry or your skis for the future? -byubound
It would be nice if the ski industry was a bit more about merit and less about who's ass you kiss or whose friend you are, but it is what it is. Honestly, it is sort of nice being up in Oregon, as we are sort of on our own little island up here and don't have to deal with a bunch of the bullshit and scene that comes with being in Utah or Colorado. We just get to cruising along and do our own thing, which is refreshing in an industry that sometimes can have a bit of an attitude.
Also, I'm being a bit of a class warrior here as well, but I wish there was more transparency with where skis are made. I can't even tell you how many times I read stuff from brands based in the USA where they are insinuate that they either building their own skis, or that they are built in America, when neither are true. We try to stay out of the fry, as you can only control your own brand, but it can be very frustrating to see stuff that you know is disingenuous. It might not matter to most people, but the job that we do at ON3P, or the guys at Moment, or the guys at Praxis, etc, is very very different from a lot of the brands we compete with who don't build their own products, and I think most people how no idea how much more work it actually is.
As for our skis, there are always improvements to be made. With sandwich construction skis, topsheet chipping will always be number one. We've been working on improving our sidewall finish a bunch this year, and have something we are really happy with. We will also always be looking at improving edge durability in park skis, and we've even looked into getting even thicker edges built for us. The order requirements are pretty big, though, so we are probably 2-3 years away from even having the volume to be able to go that route, if we want to deal with the added weight and even thicker bases. Anyway, basically name any aspect of the ski, and we are focused on what we can do to make it better. A lot of stuff is really dialed, but you can always be better.
What do you look for when you hire people? Are you looking to expand your team? --Robert
Hiring is difficult, as we work long hours, often doing the same task over and over and over, for low pay in what is often a pretty stressful environment. Some people just can't handle the work. Plus, anytime you build a product as complicated as skis, there are a ton of things that can go wrong, so you need to have the patience and fortitude to problem solve sometimes extremely frustrating and expensive issues. It takes a certain type of person who can do this job, enjoy it, and be good at it. At this point, 5 of the last 7 people we hired were all former interns, and each interned for at least 3 months, while some as long as 12 months, before they were brought on full time. We run a small shop here, so the personality fit is really important. It takes awhile to learn how to build skis at the quality we need, too, so we can't just hire someone and have them up to speed right away. Internships have been a great way to weed out who is the right fit for the job and has the talent and eye to do such detailed production work over and over, and those who don't.
At this time, we are not looking to expand our team. We are actually trying to bring it down a bit, so we can better focus resources on the athletes who are really out there helping to drive the brand. If you were to tell me we would have such a sick team from top to bottom even 2-3 years ago, I never would have believed you. This is a really solid crew, and I think you are going to continue to see our team turning a lot of heads, especially as we start to produce our own content more and more.
Why'd you guys ax the caylors? -ANDRO1D
We wanted to refocus our line around a smaller number of brands, so it was one of the ones that got the chop. The Jeffrey 122 is very very similar, so the ski is functionally still around, just under a new brand.
What's the work-life balance for yourself and the rest of the ON3P crew like? Do you still find time to ski much during the winter? -steevner
We work a lot, but life is getting a bit more balanced. It has gotten better every year, though it usually goes to shit the month before SIA.
We would all like to ski more, but we get to ski on the good days so that helps offset skiing not as often as we would like.
Skibowl has great night skiing, too, so you can work until 3 and ski at night, which is a nice perk as the terrain is pretty sick.
Skis right out of production // Photo: ON3P
Also, what would you say the balance of art vs science that goes into designing your skis? -steevner
They are completely separate. The ski development us faceless. It is about how the skis function, not how they look, so there isn't any art that goes into a ski's development.
Once the ski is develop, our Creative Director Trevor Woods brings the ski to life and is the best there is. He does an amazing job creating a brand around a ski, and I don't know how he does what he does, but I think he puts out the best graphics in the industry.
What people most likely miss is how much story there is for each ski graphic. It might be hard to get it just by looking at it, but when all the pieces come together, it is cool to see that there is a story and deep thought process behind every decision. It is about more than just what the graphic looks like, which I think is why I enjoy the graphics so much.
Also what advice can you give to the ski builders out there working in their garage or basements that hope to follow in your footsteps? -B.Gillis
I thought a lot about how to answer this. Completely honest answer....I think trying to start a ski company right now is a bit crazy, and here's why - I learn of a new ski company every week, and most offer nothing unique and nothing to differentiate themselves in an already diluted market. With so many new brands, if you don't offer something different, than you are just wasting your time.
So if you want to bring your homebuilding outside the garage, absolutely do it. It is incredibly rewarding to sell skis to people who enjoy them. Just make sure 1) you 100% want to pursue this as a career and 2) you will be different. If what you offer is already on the market, and you don't have a huge advertising budget to get your foot in the door, it is going to be really hard to make a name for yourself and create a sustainable business.
I'm sitting next to a kid named charlie murphy... never name your cat charlie murphy!!! -StangelDangle
Usually what age are your interns? -Jackdonovan
Mostly 18-25 but we have some younger interns from time to time, though what they can do in the shop is more limited.
ON3P skiblades? -Jackdonovan
Someday they will definitely happen.