After three successful years building boards in China, K2 is shifting all its snowboard production there. This move also includes the boards built for K2-owned brands Ride and Morrow and will take place by the end of the year.
“Essentially what we’re doing is packing up the Corona factory and moving it to the factory we own in China, with the goal of making the best snowboards that we can,” says K2’s Vice President of Snowboards Brent Turner.
K2 will also build a new prototype and sample snowboard facility at its headquarters on Vashon Island, Washington.
He says the company was interested in building a new, state-of-the-art snowboard facility somewhere and investing millions of dollars in it, with all-new equipment such as base finishing and production machinery. In the end, the company decided to consolidate all its production to the China facility it owns. This factory has been making K2-owned Shakespear fishing poles for years and recently started building snowboards for both K2 and Morrow.
Now the company will move all its Ride production there as well. “We’re going to develop separate manufacturing lines for Ride and K2. We’ll have a distinct Ride team that will be focused on designing and building product at that facility. We’ve got some good innovations coming out next year with all our brands.”
The China factory employs 2,500 people and will add more staff and space to accommodate the increased snowboard production. “I’m not going to say it’s going to be the biggest snowboard factory in the world, but it’ll be one of the biggest,” says Turner.
The Corona, California snowboard factory was bought by K2 when the company purchased Ride Snowboards. At that time, K2 shifted some of its K2—and later some Morrow—production to that facility, but Turner says the company was outgrowing that facility. He also says there was also a big problem with staff turnover.
The lease that the company had on the building is up at the end of the year and the factory was going to lay off a percentage of its 100-plus employees in another week or so due to the seasonal nature of building snowboards. All the key management have been offered jobs with the company and the two main staff members have signed on for the move. Turner says the plant will do some sample production between now and when it closes.
“We’re trying to build better product; stuff that looks, feels, and sells better at retail,” he says. “A lot of what people buy in snowboards is what they see and feel. Everything from fit and finish to graphics and brand reputation and everything else.
“There’s always somebody who opposes having production in China, but really it’s kind of hypocritical if you look at where snowboard boots, apparel, and a lot of bindings come from. If you look at it from a realistic standpoint of what’s the product you’re getting and what it looks like, this move will be pretty favorable.