In his sophomore year of college, Scott Andrus received a pair of custom skis that didn’t live up to his expectations. The only logical solution to this problem for any rational broke college student is to, over the next two years, build a 220 square foot factory in your garage in order to make your own skis. This was an ambitious move, seeing as Scott was in the midst of writing a thesis in biology and trying to maintain some form of a social life in college. It was this kind of thinking that lead Scott to spend hundreds of hours over the span of ten months to produce a ski press. This allowed him to create his own skis to any specification that he wanted, and eventually create a company named ON3P which stands for the cross streets that this first garage factory was located, on Thirteenth and Proctor in Washington State.
First and foremost, Scott Andrus is a skier and has been since he was 3 when he went to Beaver Creek’s ski school. Currently, it just so happens that he is in the rare position of actually being able to produce the skis that he rides on. The primary thing that is necessary to understand about skiers is that they are a passionate group of people. Passionate about snow, passionate about skiing itself, and especially about each other, the skiing community is a tight knit group of insane people. While the rest of the world gripes and grumbles about waking up at 6 am in order to shovel their driveway after a snowfall, skiers are out there an hour earlier, so they can hop in their car and get to the mountain before anybody else. Let me reiterate, skiers are crazy people. They choose to huck themselves off of cliffs, hit jumps, and ski through the trees at break neck speeds. Ask any skier what their perfect day is, and the answer will almost certainty be a powder day where the snow is so deep that it flies up in their face as they ski, blinding them on each turn. What kind of rational person would choose to be neck deep in snow? However, it is this mindset that defines skiers and makes them such a unique group of people, capable even of setting up shop in their garage and transforming it into a fully functioning company.
Having the budget of a full time college student, which, let’s face it, is not very impressive, Scott spent months trying to gather the power tools and materials necessary to achieve some level of production of skis. His personal capital and savings were the seed money for his budding ski production company, ON3P. It was life’s daily emergencies, accompanied by a lack of knowledge, capital, and a tendency to overcomplicate problems that challenged Scott and ON3P early on. However, through thousands of hours of hard work and the help of friends who would often times sleep on Scott’s couch for weeks on end, ON3P was able to reach a point where it could sustain a full level of commercial production.
For the ski season of 2008-2009, ON3P’s skis were finally ready to be tested. Taken out by friends, both amateur and professional, the skis were put to the absolute test. Testers brought them out on every type of terrain and in all different conditions. Nervous that everybody was going to hate the skis, Scott awaited the test results anxiously. This was the culmination of countless hours of work and the thousands and thousands of dollars that he had invested into the company. However, when the results came back the skis passed with flying colors. With this validation of his work, Scott was finally ready to produce for the public, which would at first mainly be composed of the members of his online communities that he was a part of.
Now, Scott had to enter a very saturated market, filled with big time brands such as Line Skis, Solomon, Armada, Atomic, and K2, among many others. Marketing was going to be the key to ON3P’s success, as it did not have the capital or reputation among the public that these other brands did. This is where the tight knit ski community comes in. Scott was a trusted member among both the TGR.com (Teton Gravity Research) and newschoolers.com online communities. These websites were made up of a very avid following of skiers, the crazy kind, that love skiing more than almost anything in the world. It was here that Scott was able to market his story, as the members of both communities were able to follow the development of ON3P thorough Scott’s posts and updates. Known as iggyskier on both TGR and newschoolers.com, Scott was a trusted member of both communities. This led other members to feel a sense of comradeship with Scott because they were able to track ON3P’s progress from the building of the factory to the final production of skis. It was to these members that Scott immediately marketed his skis, stressing the hard work that he had personally put into each ski. He set out on this journey with the goal of producing a ski that is “something special, so it took a long time to develop it and do it right.” It was this mindset that really sold the skis, the personal relationship that the ski community had with Scott, and the guaranteed quality of each and every ski that he produced.
Every new business has to overcome obstacles, and ON3P has overcome its fair share. However, in November of 2009, the company faced its largest difficulty, when Scott USA Ltd ordered that ON3P stop the production and sale of their ski, “the Great Scott,” because of a trademark infringement. Clearly, the ski was named after ON3P’s founder; however, Scott USA Ltd did not see it in the same way and used its large size and capital to bully the emerging ON3P. It is not surprising however, that as soon as this cease and desist order was received by ON3P, Scott posted on both TGR and newschoolers.com to inform his customers and followers about the situation. Members of both communities were enraged, throwing around the words, “boycott,” and sending emails to Scott USA Ltd expressing their disappointment in their actions. Despite this, ON3P, as a new company just didn’t have the capital behind them to fight in court. Picking his battles wisely, Scott decided to submit to Scott USA Ltd’s orders, and change the name of the ski to the “Cease and Desist,” which is the only name that seems fit.
This year, ON3P has expanded its sales and is continuing to grow. Scott hopes to expand his market into the more mainstream, “non-TGR and newschoolers.com markets and become part of the upper echelon of boutique ski companies without losing his history.” It is this commitment to history and customer satisfaction that really sets ON3P apart from other ski companies. Also, it is the personal relationship that Scott has with the ski community that has allowed ON3P to grow and become what it is today. Customers realize that Scott is just as crazy and impassioned about skiing as they are, and, as a result trust in him and his products. After all, he somehow found the time to answer all of my questions, even though I e-mailed him during his busiest time of the year, as he was in the middle stages of production for this year’s line. ON3P truly is a core company that cares more about its customers and quality than it does about the bottom line, which makes it really unique. This mentality that has allowed ON3P to grow is deeply rooted in the skiing culture and community. Scott Andrus is, at the end of the day, just a skier like the rest of us, who was able to incorporate his passion into his work.