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Ski manufacturer runs ski factory from a traveling tiny home

It doesn’t take much to realize that Community Skis runs its ski company a little different.

In fact one only needs to look as far as its headquarters, a 38-foot workshop and tiny home attached to the back of a dusty silver pickup truck.

That’s right, the custom ski building operation runs its business remotely, operating wherever (and whenever) it feels.

“Typically in a factory, the sites are pretty mundane,” says Community Skis Co-founder Michael Lish in a video interview with the Locals Project. “So we created the factory to be mobile to see different sites. We associate nature with building skis, we put our factory in nature.”

Community Skis is the brainchild of Lish and business partner Kristin Broumas. In order to reduce their footprint and maintain the flexibility of running a business from the road, Lish fashioned the company’s trailer from scratch (he even built the axle according to Broumas).

Currently the trailer features a full ski workshop, a tiny home complete with a kitchen and glassed-in bed space, and storage for raw materials.

Welcome to the Community Skis headquarters—a 38-foot factory on wheels. Photo courtesy of Will Saunders.
Welcome to the Community Skis headquarters — a 38-foot factory on wheels. Photo: Courtesy of Will Saunders
According to the company’s website, Community Skis can produced 10 pairs of skis solely on the power of its Honda generator before needing to return onto the grid, giving the pair the freedom to set up shop just about anywhere.

But the traveling workshop is just a piece of what Community Skis is trying to accomplish. For Lish and Broumas, Community is focused on educating those around them in both ski building, and how to successfully run a business.

“We really want to see more American manufacturing,” says Lish. “Not just skis, but the business component as well.”

In addition to building skis for customers, Community Skis hosts workshops for customers to learn about the process, and build a pair of skis of their own. Photo courtesy of Will Saunders.
In addition to building skis for customers, Community Skis hosts workshops for customers to learn about the process, and build a pair of skis of their own. Photo: Courtesy of Will Saunders
After nearly a decade in and around Mammoth (Lish had his old ski workshop in a trailer on BLM land for several years), Community’s new operation caravanned north to Bend, Oregon this past year to help Bend High School build a fully-functioning ski factory as part of the school’s Capstone program.

Once the factory is completed, students participating in the program will be able to work with teachers and other professionals to design and build two pairs of skis.

The first is for them to keep, the second will be put up for sale, with all funds raised being reinvested in the program. In this way, Lish hopes that the local community will take pride in its homegrown products and support local industry.

Community has already been contacted by several other schools and communities to replicate the work it is doing in Bend, and has plans to move on to Golden, Colorado, once work in Bend is done.

Hard at work spreading the good word of American-based manufacturing. Photo courtesy of Teafly.
Hard at work spreading the good word of American-based manufacturing. Photo: Courtesy of Teafly

In the meantime, Lish is already working on a new trailer, a 40-foot-plus behemoth that will add a commercial kitchen to the mix and will increase the size of the workshop, allowing Community to once again get out on the road and spread the word through custom ski building workshops around the West.

Despite being without an industrial production facility, Community produces skis at a competitive price point, with skis starting at $600 all the way up to $700 for custom graphics and carbon fiber construction.

They usually build up to three skis a day during the busy months and hope to build more with the new traveling facility.

Still, Lish says he still finds time to ski nearly 150 days most years. This year he and Broumas are looking forward to skiing Mount Bachelor just outside of Bend. He hears the trailer parking is excellent.

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