May 2014 marked 60 years of programs, events, research and advocacy at SIA – none of which would be possible without your support. Thanks for making this an anniversary for us to celebrate.
We are all extremely fortunate to work in an industry filled with passion, enthusiasm and endless friendships that support our mutual efforts time and time again.
“I can remember when SIA was born in the 50’s— It was a major influence, and SIA has grown every year and continues to do a lot of things to grow the industry and expand the business,” said Ian Ferguson, a retired snow sports sales rep that worked for Head, Lange and Ski Magazine over the years. “There’s a bond between skiers that there isn’t anywhere else in the world. You can take any other industry and they don’t have the kind of feelings that skiers have for one another. We’ve stuck together through the years, skied together, gone through though good times and bad.”
“It has been our privilege to take on the challenges and opportunities snow sports suppliers, reps, retailers and consumers face as equally invested partners,” said David Ingemie, SIA’s president since 1981. “They inspire what we do and we couldn’t be more grateful for their support.”
Here’s a look at some of the highlights of the past six decades made possible with your support–
SIA moved from Boston in 1979 and the proximity to Capitol Hill has since allowed us to organize regular industry visits to legislators about issues like the China Quota for Snow Pants, Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Boot Miscellaneous Tariff Bill and climate change.
When snowboarding exploded in the 1990s and SIA membership hit its peak with all of the new snowboard companies on the market, Jake Burton joined the SIA Board of Directors in 1992 representing the first snowboard company on the Board. In 1997, SIA changed its name from Ski Industries America to SnowSports Industries America.
Ralph A. “Doc” Des Roches, the first president of SIA (1963-1981), was known for his tireless efforts to fundraise for the U.S. Ski Team and coordinate with manufacturers to outfit the team. This year the industry celebrated the 2014 U.S. Olympians and the suppliers that generously and continually support the athletes at the 2014 Snow Show’s Sendoff to Sochi.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, SIA brought together a team of regional managers that have been able to respond to the needs of local supplier and be their liaison with SIA headquarters. SIA has recently added to the team a dedicated manager that works with the record number of supporting members, evidence of just how interconnected the snow sports industry is with cross-over industries.
The Snow Sports Recycling Program, preparing for its 6th season, is researching how to give new life to the 350 tons of skis and snowboards it has recycled.
SIA’s more than 22 committees and task forces meet throughout the year to focus on segments of the industry and the association, like backcountry, retail, the trade show and snowboard.
SIA uses membership dues to invest in consumer programs like Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, Bring a Friend, Winter Trails, World Snowboard Day, Snowlink, and Goggle Gap that help bring more people to the snow more often.
SIA has partnered with NSAA, NSSRA and BRA to help strengthen the resort and retail components of the snow sports business.
SIA moved the Snow Show from Las Vegas to Denver and launched the first international On-Snow Demo/Ski-Ride Fest in conjunction with WWSRA in 2010. The Show had only moved once before, from New York City to Las Vegas in 1973, where it stayed for 37 years.
Klaus Obermeyer, president of Sport Obermeyer who has punctuated the SIA Snow Show since the mid-1970s with his epic yodeling, recalled at the first show seeing Ed Scott showcasing his aluminum pole, Howard Head with his metal ski in hand and Warren Miller was tooling around. Obermeyer is one of few who hasn’t missed a show in more than 50 years.
“The ski industry had grown enough back then that it paid to invite everyone into one place and see and buy the new merchandise for the next year,” said Obermeyer. “Because of the Show, I didn’t have to travel to see everybody because they came to me. (Since then) it has become more international. The Australian buyers come, the New Zealand buyers come, people from Japan. That’s a good thing.”
Michael Smith, a Utah, Montana and Wyoming territory rep for Kuhl has been in the industry and going the Show for about 45 years. “It’s a labor of love and we’re all passionate about the sport. It’s been a great career and we’ve built some great things over the years, and the Show has been built and changed right along with us.”
Behind all of these developments and changes at SIA is a talented and inspirational Board of Directors representing the snow sports industry that has governed the the association from the beginning. Each Board Chair and each Director brings a new perspective to SIA’s work and helps us advance. In 2005, SIA welcomed its first Chairwoman, Diane Boyer, President of Skea. Now SIA is fortunate to have some of the industry’s top women leaders represent about one third of the board, while less than 17% of board seats in the United States are filled by women. Julie Garry, Outdoor Gear owner is the first vice chair and Lisa Branner, Venture Snowboards’ VP and co-owner, Wendy Carey, CFO of Seirus Innovation, Patty Duke, Point6 cofounder and creative director, Annelise Loevlie, CEO of Icelantic Skis, and Rhonda Swenson, founder of Krimson Klover, all serve on the current board.
“It’s important to have different perspectives, and what’s even more important than male versus female is to have perspectives from different-sized companies,” said Branner.
Many past SIA board chairmen have helped guide the collaboration of the Board of Directors to make SIA the industry-inspired association it is today:
“There was a lot of conflict in the alpine industry- there were feelings that cross-country might be taking people away from alpine. Then they started realizing that as cross country became more mainstream you began to see more people at the ski areas where terrain supported it.”
– Bill Danner, founder of TRAK and Leisure Trends, Board Chair 1985-1987
“Each company was a small part, but none can survive without the health of the industry. The biggest challenge for any chair is that although it is a collegial group of suppliers in the snow sports industry, there are various opponents that don’t have the same needs. During my chairmanship we kept the course. My goal was to make it a meaningful tradeshow for the whole industry. I also felt it was important as chairman to keep the association on track and to keep it strong financially- that I felt was really critical for the industry. And SIA is still really strong financially today.”
– Carl Helmetag, former president of Uvex Sports, Head, and Dynastar, Board Chair 1998-1999
“The process of managing all of the constituencies of the snow sports industry was about finding a balance and doing what the group thought was best for all of us. During my time, we moved the Show dates from March to the end of January because the only way to get the cooperation of everyone in the core of the market, including the hardgoods suppliers, was to move the Show earlier. I’m passionate about this business and I have been for many, many years. It is one of the most interesting businesses in the world and the passion the board has for what they do every day is great.”
– Ned Post, President of Smith Optics, Board Chair 1999-2001
“When the snowboard industry was emerging, we took good care of them. They were different members with different needs, and SIA is only as strong as its members. We always made sure they had their own section at the Show. Plus, we got them on the board of directors and into the execituve committee and made sure they had a voice. We were trying for a good range of softgoods, hardgoods and accessory suppliers, and trying to have more women on the board. You’ don’t want to get blindsided that we made a decision that hurt an import segment of the constituency.”
–Dick Leffler, President of NILS, Board Chair 2003-2005
“It was during my tenure that the Show moved from Vegas to Denver. We worked hard with Vegas and Denver convention bureau, and Denver came up with the space and the time we needed. Denver welcomes us as a trade show with open arms. It is great that the ski and snowboard show is in the middle of ski and snowboard country.”
– Diane Boyer, President of Skea, first woman Board Chair 2005-2007
Current SIA Board Member Sasha Dietschi-Cooper, vice president of North American sales at Burton Snowboards has appreciated the benefits of SIA membership and has high hopes for all SIA can do in the future.
“There are a number of extremely important decisions ahead for the board that will have a significant impact on the future of our industry. SIA has a responsibility to continue to make investments now that set that stage for increased awareness and participation in winter sports in the future,” said Dietschi-Cooper.
Thanks to everyone for making it a wonderful 60 years – from rocker to camber, snow to sun, and paisley to color blocking.