What are the biggest trends shaping the hardgoods market for next year?
We've never really been concerned with chasing the trends, but instead have focused on our personal passions as riders, which are freeriding and exploring the backcountry. In recent years interest has been building in this area again, and it feels like snowboarding is circling back to its roots.
What is the greatest change affecting your brand since last season?
Managing the rapid growth we're experiencing is having a big impact on the way we do things at Venture, but we're putting systems in place to help us move to the next level in a sustainable way.
How has the market evolved over the last year and how do you see things changing in the years ahead?
In the splitboard niche, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and coming out with a split so there are more options available to backcountry riders than ever before. I would expect we'll see a continued growth of interest for another few years and then interest in splitboarding will wane a bit and come back to its core.
How has sales forecasting changed for your company?
Traditionally we've been very conservative with forecasting but we've continued to experience incredible growth over the past few years, much of which has been spurred by the awards our splitboards keep winning. Things keep trending upward so we are going to be optimistic with our projections for 12/13.
What lessons have you learned with bookings and production for this season and how will you apply those to next?
As a small manufacturer we've learned that a build-to-order production model is what works best for us. We will continue to encourage our retailers to place realistic pre-season orders since we're more likely to sell out rather than have excess inventory for at-once orders.
How are you working with retailers to help ensure strong margins, the right amount of product in the marketplace, and terms that set them up for success?
The number one thing we do to help our retailers is keep our production limited. Demand outstrips availability every year, which allows our dealers to maintain price integrity throughout the season.
How large are your lines going to be compared to years past? Have you seen customers confused by too many different stories?
We'll be adding one model to the lineup – a full blown powder surfer – and it will be offered both as a solid board and a splitboard, as are all our different models. We'll also be trimming some of the less popular length and width options to help tighten things up a bit.
With the shifting landscape of production abroad, are you reevaluating where you produce your hardgoods? If so, why?
We have no need to rethink production because all Venture boards are built from scratch in the USA. From the core to the topsheet, each and every deck is handcrafted in our factory in Silverton, Colorado. Always have been, always will be.
What opportunities do you see for growing hardgoods sales? Please explain. (Are you increasing your focus on kids, women, core retailers, chains, rental sales, internet sales, entry-level products, splitboards, etc.?)
As a niche brand we're continuing to focus on the premium splitboards and high end, superior performance freeride boards that we are known for.
What do you anticipate prices doing next season?
We will see a slight increase in prices next year to keep pace with increased materials and shipping costs.
Are you taking any steps to minimize your environmental impact? If so, what are some of these steps?
An environmental commitment has been a core principle here at Venture since we started back in 1999, and continues to guide everything we do today. Some examples of this commitment in action include our use of only Forest Stewardship Council certified wood for our cores from day one, running our entire operation on wind power since 2004, and maintaining a membership in 1% For the Planet, which requires us to donate 1% of annual sales to environmental causes each year. New this year we are incorporating castor bean topsheet material into the mix, and we will continue looking for creative ways to reduce our impact in all sectors of our operation.
What does your company hope to contribute to snowboarding?
Venture hopes to show that building snowboards in a sustainable way - both in terms of the environment and in terms of our workforce - is not only possible, but preferable. We are proud that our boards are produced from scratch in the USA by snowboarders who love to ride as much as our customers do. Our approach is authentic and grassroots and that's something this industry needs more of!
What are the biggest forces shaping the changes and developments you've made to your boards?
We are continuing to work with legendary big mountain rider Johan Olofsson to perfect our board designs and bring new shapes to market. And of course having our factory located smack dab in the middle of Colorado's San Juan Mountain range contributes quite a bit to the evolution of the line. Where better to build boards than in the very mountains they're going to be ridden in?
To what degree are you emphasizing camber shape in your lineup?
Not a single board in our lineup will have camber this year. All are flat underfoot with a mellow rocker on the tip and tail which varies by model. We've found that this rocker profile, along with our secret sauce of flex and sidecut, provides the ideal mix of playfulness and control.
Are you cooking up any new materials or construction techniques?
We have brought our topsheet printing in house which gives us much greater control over the process. Also, this season we are switching over to using more environmentally friendly plastic topsheets that are made from the oil of castor beans rather than petroleum products.
What themes are you seeing for graphics?
We're sticking with the theme of snow, using one of Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley's photos of an actual snow crystal. After all snow is what it's all about for us, isn't it?