The Dryve factory started in a cramped room-barely large enough to hold a snowboard press-in the corner of Bruce Witkin’s auto-body shop back in 1995. Then it expanded out-and up. Soon it was crowding the line of cars waiting to be painted.
“Back in 1996, when everyone was making snowboards, people used to laugh and say, ‘He makes his snowboards in an auto-body shop!'” says Witkin. “That’s okay-at least I’ve proven that I can run a business.”
But this past summer Dryve Snowboards finally got a home of its own, in a new 12,000-square-foot factory across the parking lot from the shop. Witkin says he plans to build a showroom where a full collection of the boards Dryve has made will be on display. The showroom will also include a computer with flatbed scanner where customers can design custom board graphics.
Large windows throughout the planned showroom give visitors a good view of the new factory floor, where Dryve’s sandwich-constructed boards will be made. “With the new shop and showroom, OEM customers can pick out board shapes and graphics and before they leave they’ll be able to see their design-complete with logo and graphics-print it out, and take it with them,” says Witkin. “We’re also hoping riders visit the factory where they can be fitted for the right board and then directed to one of our retailers.”
Last year, Witkin made snowboards for Dannon Yogurt and Dannon Water, KROQ, X-103.9, Sol Cerveza, Random Snowboards, and the Morgan Stanley Technology Group. This year, plans are also in the works for Pontiac and other large corporations. All of this is in addition to the house brand. “I’d like to grow both my OEM business and the Dryve brands,” says Witkin, mentioning that he’s considering going factory-direct this year.
A true entrepreneur, Witkin started his auto-body business with the help of his girlfriend who worked at an insurance agency. She sent customers to Witkin’s home where he would do car repairs. From this humble start he’s built a million-dollar business. A passionate snowboarder and wakeboarder, the 48-year-old Witkin points with pride to his metal-screw supported legs: “I’ll ride as hard as anyone.”
With the consolidation hitting small manufacturers hard, Witkin says his corporate OEM partners, as well as his auto-body shop, give him the financial flexibility to continue to build great boards and keep riding.