Brand Profile: Q and A with Denver’s Meier Skis

Denver, Colorado, home to the most craft beer breweries per capita nationwide, has welcomed a new player to the game: the “Craft Skiery.”

Among only a handful of boutique, handmade, ski brands across the Rockies, Meier Skis, founded in Glenwood Springs in 2009, and relocating to the craft capital of Denver in 2016, has adopted this term to describe its multi-functional brand presentation: storefront, workshop, and ski community watering hole.

Meier Skis, based out of an up and coming area below I-25 near downtown Denver, thrives on the concept of the mountain lifestyle, both on and off of the snow.

In 2009, founder Mat Cudmoore created Meier Skis in his garage in Glenwood armed only with a plan to build skis from locally harvested Colorado wood. Meier Skis has helped reinforce the importance of careful, intentional craftsmanship using sustainable resources to foster a close-knit and distinctive outdoor community.

A visit to Meier Skis becomes more than just a shopping trip with perks like local brews, factory tours, and front-row seats to the ski construction process. Ted Eynon, owner, tells us how he and Meier Skis strive for transparency in everything they do — from choosing sustainable material sources and breaking down the wall between user and producer, to representing the designs themselves.

What’s the area and culture around the shop like? Why did you choose to settle in downtown Denver?

It’s not easy to find space in Denver among all the growhouses, but we wanted a space that was accessible and affordable. We like our customers to come here, enjoy a beer, and learn about the brand. We developed a front show room area with a bar built out of ski cores and side wall. Behind the bar is a wall of glass, our “Craft Skiery”, where customers can see the ski-building process. You can touch and feel the materials, go on a tour, and watch the skis being laid and pressed. We keep the shop very transparent and people feel like their very much a part of the action. We’ve also become a bit of an underground music venue as well. We’ll have music events usually centered around fundraisers or charitable events, and have hosted groups including Pretty Lights, Thievery Corporation, the Motette, The New Mastersounds.

What is the driving philosophy behind your designs?

We strive to be the world’s most ecofriendly high-performance ski. We try to use locally sourced materials when available. In the ski industry there isn’t much locally available material because so much manufacturing is done overseas. Wood is one that we are able to harvest locally and makes an amazing ski that’s really light and poppy. We use Aspen, a sustainable wood source. When you cut one Aspen down, usually 6 to 8 shoots come out of where you cut it down. We use Beetle Kill Pine as well for a smaller part of the core. We are the only company in the world right now that is using all locally harvested wood from Colorado in the skis and use a clear top sheet on all our skis to show off the natural beauty and color of the wood. We think it looks amazing, and it also forces us to have good workmanship because we can’t cover up any flaws or issues. Everything is transparent, just like our Craft Skiery storefront. Beyond the wood, we also use Entropy Resins epoxy, the world’s most environmentally friendly epoxy, and much less ink on our skis – all with an eye toward being an eco friendly ski.

We also like the idea of flexibility around our designs. Most ski brands either do standard or custom designs, while we do both. We make all of our skis ourselves, so we’re able to have more options. We make the standard product, of which we have 15 regular models. We then do co-branded and licensed products in partnership with companies, organizations, and even musical groups like AC Golden Brewing Company, Harpoon Brewing in Boston, Suerte Tequila in Boulder, Cabot Cheese in Vermont, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and individual bands including Bighead Todd and the Monsters and Leftover Salmon. Finally, we do one-off customs designs with individuals where they can get their own graphic on standard models and lengths. We can provide a template, or they can work with our graphic designer to start from scratch.

What values are important to Meier Skis as a company?

Eco-friendliness, most importantly, as discussed when it comes to our material and process choices. Craftsmanship is also very important to us, making the skis ourselves and keeping true to what we started. There are very few companies that make their own skis, especially in North America. Both of these values are apparent in our design and construction. In addition, we work to create solid and trustworthy relationships with our retail partners. We have a unique business model with our ski partners where we hold a good bit of their inventory, rather than sell them all of the skis that they would like at once, so that they aren’t having to guess on their buy for the next season. If there’s a down season like this one, they wouldn’t have to worry about selling all of their inventory. It removes the guessing game and improves their cash flow, which is a challenge in the ski industry.

How do your skis perform differently?

Our skis tend to be lighter and poppier based on the wood core and the mix of materials that we use in the skis. The shapes and camber profiles that we use also contribute to this. Our skis are known for being light and poppy but also strong.

What kind of skiers are you and your co-workers/employees?

We have all sorts – jibbers, powder hunters, you name it. Tee skis that we produce go all the way from a 73-underfoot carving ski to a 132-underfoot full on powder ski. We love to ski together when we can, but for most of the season we are busy making skis! We choose to make our own skis and that takes up a lot of our time. We take a small break in May but we crank production almost all year round. We’re actually adding three months to our production schedule this year due to our recent growth.

Who is your target customer, and where do most people find your skis?

If not in the shop, pretty much everything is driven through the website with our list of current retail and demo partners. We’re tripling the number of retail partners we have this year in the NE and British Columbia and Japan, and of course have a good number in the Rockies. We currently still have a gap in coverage California and the NW and the upper midwest and planning on adding independent sales reps to those regions in the coming year.

SIA

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