Posted: April 22, 2013
Made in Colorado 2013: Winter sportsEric Peterson
Never Summer Industries
Brothers and Never Summer co-founders Tim and Tracey Canaday made their first snowboards in wood shop class as high schoolers in Fort Collins in 1983. Thirty years later, they’re cranking 25,000 Never Summer snowboards a year out of their Denver factory when most of their competitors have moved production to China. On top of that, the company also manufactures for a number of other Colorado snowboard and ski brands on a contract basis.
Marketing Manager Chris Harris attributes the 150-employee company’s growth to the Canaday brothers’ smart, unselfish business philosophy, along with innovative designs – namely the patented Rocker/Camber (R.C.) technology. “It sort of revolutionized snowboarding,” he says. “Now every snowboard company has a version of it.”
Not that Never Summer is resting on its laurels. Recently, the company has taken its design and construction methods to the world of longboarding. Additionally, Harris says the company is about to unleash another “revolutionary profile,” a design they’re prototyping now with plans of a 2014-15 release.
“That’s the benefit of having a factory in Colorado,” says Harris. “We’re in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. We build prototypes and we can be riding them in the mountains the same day. If you’re offshore, it can take months.”
Adaptive ski equipment
Woody Witte has been making wheels for motorcycles since 1973 and after a friend was paralyzed in a crash, Witte helped him get back on the saddle with a custom-made bike. Then Witte went a step further and helped his friend get back on the slopes with a custom mono-ski. Soon the friend was dominating races and Enabling Technologies was born. Other products – an outrigger and a bi-ski – followed, and the company has grown along with adaptive skiing as a whole.
According to Mike Witte, Woody’s son and the company’s operations manager, “95 percent of our stuff is made in Colorado. We even do our molds and things that are typically farmed out to China.”
The five-employee company just moved to a new 8,000-square-foot facility next door to Woody’s Wheel Works, which now employs 10. “We call it Woody’s World,” says Mike.
Wagner Custom Skis
Pete Wagner started making custom, high-performance skis in Placerville, near Telluride, in 2006. Jump ahead and his eponymous company employs 11 people and has shipped more than 4,000 pairs to date.
“Our growth has been 40 to 75 percent every year,” says Wagner. He attributes the heady growth to “larger trends paralleling things like craft beer. People want to buy local.”
And that’s a big differentiator because almost all of the mass-produced competition now comes out of China. Wagner’s approach is to have customers fill out an online “Skier DNA” questionnaire. “It takes about five minutes,” he says. “Then it takes us about three weeks to build the skis.”
“Every pair we make we work really hard to make our customers 100 percent ecstatic,” says Wagner. “So word of mouth has really driven our sales.”
So has the company’s Colorado location: “From a branding perspective, it’s perfect,” he adds. “A lot of people appreciate that their skis are made by skiers who are passionate about the mountains.”
Avalanche beacons and backcountry Preparedness products
Founded in 1994, BCA assembles avalanche beacons in Boulder.
Skis and snowboards
High-end snowboards and skis from Adams County.
Jared Mazlish makes some of the fattest skis on the market.
Folsom Custom Skis
Folsom recently moved production from Boulder to Denver.
Winter outerwear sewn in Colorado.
A nontoxic blend makes for some of the best wax on the market.
Grace Skis features bamboo veneers
High Society Freeride
Skis and snowboards
A top Colorado brand made at Never Summer’s Denver factory.
Featuring eye-catching art by Denver’s PARR – a co-founder – Icelantic also manufactures at Never Summer’s facility.
Skis made with local wood, including beetle kill pine.
Mountain Boy Sledworks
Crested Butte/Palmer Lake
Karen and Brice Hoskin of Montanya Rum (see “Spirits & Wine) sold Mountain Boy to Rick and Jen Hitzemann in August 2012 and sled-making continues in Crested Butte as well as Palmer Lake.
Made with renewable materials in an Evergreen factory that’s wind-powered.
Sewn in Silverthorne.
Unity has been making boards in Summit County since 1995.
Klemens and Lisa Branner have been making snowboards in the San Juans since 1999.
Beetle kill wood boards and more.
Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com