The Sessions @ SIA: CAPiTA’s Blue Montgomery on Clean-Energy Production at The Mothership
It started in 2000 as a company lead by that iconic mantra, “Defenders of Awesome.” A little more than a decade later, CAPiTA had established itself as a design-based snowboard company operating out of Seattle, Washington. It was then that Blue Montgomery decided he wanted to flip the switch on how the brand did business. He wanted CAPiTA to also produce the products they sold. Instead of going the tried and true route, however, CAPiTA stayed close to its ethos, dreaming up a clean-energy, sustainable model for a shiny new facility in Southern Austria called The Mothership.
Feistritz a.d. Gail, in the Carinthia State in the Southern Alps of Austria, is the small, unassuming village The Mothership calls home. The area was home to the legendary Elan Factory where some of the industry’s top skis and snowboards were manufactured for generations. When the factory closed down in 2013, CAPiTA acquired all assets as part of the transition. Today, The Mothership facility is a scaled-down and more efficient version of the original factory. It’s Montgomery’s clean-energy dream come true.
The location just opened this past November 2015, and with it the brand has received an outpouring of support and interest from the industry about the process of making snowboard manufacturing “cleaner.” The facility puts out zero carbon emissions, is hydro-powered, with an ozone depletion and global warming potential of zero. It has a coefficient performance score of “5”, which means for every unit of energy the facility’s system draws in, it produces five units of usable energy. Sounds like a clear step into the future, if you ask us.
“A production facility isn’t going to be something for two years or five years, it’s going to be for 50 years,” Montgomery says. “I mean it’s possible that this production facility could potentially outlast our company or ourselves. So, down the road—20, 30, 40, 50 years from now—what does a production facility look like? I don’t believe you are going to be allowed to have smokestacks in front of your factory 40 years from now. You can either make a decision to address those changes and expenses down the road someday, or you can do it now, and our shareholders decided we wanted to do it now.”
For Montgomery and his team at CAPiTA, it was less about marketing a sustainable end-product, and more about refining the entire process internally. This has opened up a more streamlined strategy for the brand, reducing overall production costs and leading to several interesting “best practices,” such as recycling wood shavings from board construction to be made into wood heating pellets. We had a chance to hear all the details from Montgomery himself at this year’s SIA Snow Show in Denver. Watch the very first episode of The Sessions @ SIA above and stay tuned for more interviews in the near future.
Video Production: Tate MacDowell, Shane Stoltz, Annie Fast | Editing: Tate MacDowell