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Sea to Sky Made

Start-ups and struggles in the Sea to Sky snowsports industry

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Page 9 of 10

Shared Shred Space

Ski presses are heavy beasts, weighing over 900 kilograms. I ask Jeremy McCall what kind of guarantees he has on his space. He pauses. "I have cool landlords," he says. In short — none. Should he lose his space, a significant amount of his fixed capital would go down the drain, probably enough to sink his operation.

Like other makers in Whistler and Pemberton — including Foon, Greg Funk, Sheldon Steckman, and Brad Bethune of splitboardz.com — Jeremy would be happy to have a proper workshop space in an industrial zone like Function. But such spaces are expensive and too large for smaller makers. Would not a shared space for smaller makers offer a more affordable alternative?

"I would be excited to move into something like a shared space — I would be so keen to see everybody else's stuff and to have them see my stuff," says Brad Bethune, who mentions the new Don Wensley building, zoned for light commercial, as ideal for such endeavours. "With Greg here, it's a huge influence for me to start making my own boards," he says of his current shared space with Greg Funk. Like other makers, he envisions shared space as offering creative inspiration and "natural, friendly competition." Indeed, most makers spoke of the benefits of a creative think-tank atmosphere, as well as possibilities for shared expenses and purchases, including insurance and liability.

"None of us are making millions, so we're able to collaborate," suggests Brad. "It would give us a face for the public. People could come by and see, and everybody would do more sales."

"I think it would be a great idea because a lot of us are in a similar boat right now," says Foon, who almost claimed shop space with local surfboard maker Andy Lambrecht. "I was really excited about the idea about spending eight hours a day with a surfboard maker — I think the brainstorms would be awesome," says Foon.

"More and more we're surfing the snow — it's surfing technology that has freed us, in the last few years," says Foon. "Rocker is a surfing technology. Spending time with people that are close, but not exactly the same industry as you would just create more and more ideas." The same would go for sharing space with snowboard makers. Indeed, Foon says, snowboarding saved the ski industry from its "revolving door" of big name manufacturers who were "stuck" in their ways.

"We're at the hub," says Brad. "We see the trends a year or two before they even hit. I'm still way before splitboarding is going to hit the cities. And no doubt it will." Things blow up in Whistler; packing together a few makers would be like compressing dynamite.

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