Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Never Summer - The factory tour

While in Colorado, I was able to arrange for a tour of the Never Summer factory. That sounds impressive and it was but I want to be sure no one misunderstands - they offer tours to everyone...I'm no one special. Of course, if you've read this blog very long, you already know that.

I met with Vince Sanders. We discussed the beginnings of the company and my particular interest in the board designs and in the Vario Power Grip Sidecut. Vince's committment to the company was apparent. He wasn't just an employee, he was an emmisary.

One of the owners, Tracey Canaday, met with us briefly. He showed me examples of the Sidecut and how it works. Conceptually, I get it but, without the ability to fold things, I'm not sure I can explain it. It does make a lot of sense - I'm a believer. It's a rational alternative to magnetraction and, I believe, a superior alternative in certain situations.

I was extremely impressed with Tracey - he has an obvious dedication to the product and its development that goes well beyond money. Vince called him a visionary - I agree.

We discussed my snowboarding and what I wanted to have in a new board. Tracey showed me the Raptor, available for the 2010-2011 season. It's the first time I've been stunned by a board design. I literally took an audible breath. It's so clean. The waist looks perfect and the rocker/camber combination is genius. I was ready to drink the Kool Aid and I hadn't been in the factory yet. Tracey said he'd been riding one for a year or so, working out all the details. Sign me up.

Vince showed me around the factory and explained the manufacturing process step-by-step. While much of it was beyond my skill set, what was obvious is the dedication and loyalty of the workers. Most have been in their positions for 10 years or longer. Watching them work was a joy. I've run production departments in various industries - these guys were impressive.

Another point that came through clearly after the tour - these boards are as close as possible to bullet-proof. If you see the p-tex reinforcement, the metal rails, the new Carbonium, you believe.

Currently one of the boards in my quiver is a Never Summer Summit. Like most of my boards, it's had some rude introductions to trees and other obstacles. Unlike my other boards, it doesn't show much damage. Now I understand why.

The long and short of it - an outstanding operation. As soon as it's available, I'm ordering a Raptor X (the X is the wider version). It's nice to have some things settled.

One more thing - all Never Summer boards are made in the U.S. That means you're not just buying an awesome board, you're helping the economy. Nice.

You can read about Never Summer's new line of freeride boards here and you can read more about the company here.

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