Down days from the mountain can be a good thing sometimes. It means i get to look up shit i find interesting and then puke it back up on here....
Nowadays the main stream brands of snowboards pretty much come from a handful of OEM factories, one factory could produce boards for 3 or 4 brands.
Sometimes this isn't a bad thing, but there is also a very hardcore group of hand built boards that often exceed the build quality of OEM factories. Being a tech, and the fact i also build my own snowboards, mean i find this side of the industry interesting which is where this latest post fits in. It can be confusing as a lot of the bigger brands use more then one production facility. There are always problems in the manufacturing side of everything, its part of the business and in a fickle world not all can survive.
Click on the orange links to find out more about each company..
NBL Sport/Nobile Factory
Ive chosen Nobile first as they are a small family run factory out of Poland. They are know for building some of the highest quality ski's and snowboards on the market. I love what they stand for and the fact they still hold quality craftsmenship as the backbone of their factory.
Brands out of Nobile -
Each of these brands are relatively small and run like a family, its reflected in the quality of their skis and boards which is down to the guys at Nobile.
The biggest is probably GST, in Austria. Although earlier this year it was announced that they will also be closing. I think its due to the cost of running a major operation like this in Europe, and also brands not paying on time has a big effect.
These guys make
This went bankrupt in 21013 even thought they were probably the biggest factory at the time.
Capita Snowboards took over production and carried on making decks.
Salomon and Atomic are part of Amer Sports. While they are owned by the same company their boards and ski's are made separately. Salomon have a factory in France and in Bulgaria and Atomic is in Altenmarkt,Austria.
Rossignol have a huge factory near Chamonix where the high end race skis are made along with 'Look' ski bindings and Dynastar.
The rest of the line is made in their factory in Spain. The reason for this is because the wood they use for their cores is grown here.....so thats where they put the factory....well done Rossi! People hate on them but they are one of the oldest brands out there.
SWS SNOWBOARD FACTORY are a new player in the game, but they have pedigree. Strangely they are based in Dubai and run by two of the most experienced snowboard builders in the industry,John Colvin and George Cant who both earned their stripes at the legendary brand 'Option' and the Elan factory.
They definitely make 'Arbor snowboards' and i think 'Yes' are now based there.
Lib tech and GNU are all made in the Mervin MFG factory in the States.
These guys produce some of the most indestructible boards in the industry as well as constantly innovating new designs. Much like the two brands below they are hand built and a lot of time is taken to make the best product.
Never summer and Signal both have their own small factories in America where they build their own boards, but on a large scale. This is great as they can keep up with the big boys but they also have direct contact with what they are making. In other word they could think up a design in the morning and create a prototype in the afternoon. Signal do this brilliantly with their webisodes called 'Every Third Thursday'
Never summer do now produce skis for a brand called 'Icelantic'. Its the same construction as the Never Summer boards who are well know for making the toughest boards around, i can definitely back them up on that one!
Final shout out to a new and exciting company from the UK, DOUK Snowboards. They produce good boards that are made from start to finish, by hand in the UK. Its great to see this and although i haven't tested the boards myself, i have heard a lot of good feedback so hopefully they carry on the good work.
Notice i have left out 'Burton'. Yes they did pioneer snowboarding but i think along the way they have got lost. I think they make terrible quality boards and only cater towards people that won't truly put the deck though its paces. Although there is a market for this, it doesn't interest me.
Its interesting to see that the biggest factories have struggled and closed, meaning brands have to find new production. I think the Ski and Snowboard Industry is blessed in that people are willing to spend a lot of money on their equipment as they want the best, they know how important it is to be able to rely on their kit and for this reason i think more people will look to the smaller more artisan brands, which can only be a good thing.
For any one that is interested, check out my own snowboards. the link shows how i made everything.