[Post courtesy of Sego Skis]
By Abbott Gilbane
We are celebrating our fourth anniversary here at Sego, and it’s a good time to look back and reflect on our accomplishments and missteps. Building a business is challenging, and so is building skis. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned along the way, it’s that there’s no running away from mistakes. Bills for things we shouldn’t have invested in don’t go away until they’re paid. Delinquent accounts that were questionable partners in the first place don’t pay us without friendly daily phone calls. There’s no magic wand for erasing human element of building skis by hand, just a steady learning curve.
With this in mind, we recently cleaned out the attic where the skis we deemed unskiable lived. There are skis with blown out sidewalls, skis with faulty top-sheets, and skis with edge confirmation problems. There are skis that were accidentally cut through the center by an employee with exceptionally strong forearms. There are skis with heinous bite marks through their edges from when we used a hand router to set the sidewall bevel. There are skis that someone forgot to put top-sheets on, and skis with clear top-sheets that a similarly minded someone tastefully embedded roaches down the center of (they looked kinda cool, but they’re not a great look for a family friendly brand). There are skis that we tested into the ground while learning about what works and what doesn’t for flex patterns. There are skis with aluminum tail bumpers that we’ll use in the future, but haven’t quite dialed in yet. There were a lot of skis up there.
Any endeavor worth conquering involves mistakes, failures, and missteps. Ours lived in the attic until last month. We are still working hard to further reduce our blem rate, and for the first time this summer our production crew is made of 100% returning employees who all have skin in the game. They have been working for years to perfect skills from edge bending to base sanding, and aren’t the type to be inspired to take creative liberties with their layups.
We are also working hard to lower our costs, make smart investments, and reach a sustainable cash flow. Investing in outside help, whether it be independent sales reps, marketing firms, or established PR firms is a road we’ve been down. And we know now that there are no short cuts. So, we are going to keep driving the bus around the country, and Canada, promoting our products the old fashioned way. Meanwhile, we’ll keep prototyping and adding to our list of award winning skis, which already includes the highest available accolades from Powder, Newschoolers, Freeskier, Blister Gear Review, Skiing Magazine, Backcountry Magazine, and Ski Canada Magazine. We’ll also keep working on our sales network, which has grown from regional to reach both coasts, spread to shops in Canada and Australia, and includes the web’s largest retailers.
We’re also taking the skis out of the attic. So, next time you drive out of Victor toward Teton Pass keep your eyes open for a pink and blue fence. It might look like a lot of mistakes, and it is. Four years of mistakes, to be exact. We kept them to ourselves for a while, but now it’s time to take a good look at where we’ve made missteps, have Tyler get a little lighter with his touch on the band saw, and keep working toward year five.