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Shaping A Niche: Customized Snowboards Come to Life Under Mikey Franco’s Vast Knowledge & Attention to Detail

For a niche brand in snowboarding, it’s often difficult to measure ROI in a world that is so focused on the bottom line. Franco Shapes, a small hand-crafted snowboard company based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, seems to have found that sweet spot, as Founder Mikey Franco’s customized boards pick up steam.

“Snowboarding is just now maturing, where you have folks who have full time jobs other than just snowboarding all day and working in a restaurant at night,” says Franco. “They have the money to step it up and say, ‘You know what, I want the finest snowboard I can get.’ And the finest snowboard in the world isn’t one you can get made over and over again—not that they aren’t great products, I respect every brand here that has taught me, and I love what they do— but the finest snowboard in the world is the one that was made for you.”

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Franco goes on to break down what success means to him, and how that relates to the business in terms of quantity produced, and the types of boards he shapes, most of which are reminiscent of classic silhouettes from the past. This year marked the second time Franco Shapes has been present at SIA Snow Show, in the CRAFT section, giving the brand a platform to speak to potential customers.

Although retailers aren’t a main focal point for the business, the brand has recently started reaching out beyond Franco’s immediate circle of acquaintances to start shaping boards for a more mainstream audience. While Franco admits that shaping for someone he doesn’t know personally does put him somewhat outside his comfort zone, the adaptive business owner utilizes a tool he created, dubbed the “Rider Genome Profile”—an intense survey that analyzes psychometrics, biometrics, and enviro-metrics for each person looking for a custom-made board.  It allows Franco to get a sense of who the person is without physically meeting them, allowing him “to design a board from their brain down to their feet, that I know they are going to go, ‘This was truly detailed for me.’”

Take a look at the entire interview with Mikey above, and stay tuned here for the rest of the Sessions @ SIA as they roll out over the next month.

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