As we build the ski pick list for next season it’s interesting to see which skis people are ordering. Anytime I write-up a description of skis I try to maintain neutrality and focus on the strengths of a brand, while acknowledging limitations. I don’t want to present an overt endorsement of one brand over another, though I may do that in person from time to time when people need some help making up their minds. It is, however, inevitable that people will be steered by what I say, and I like to see how that’s playing out.
Fischer has always been a runaway leader in sales – sometimes with as many as nine times the number of orders of any other brand. Fischer skis are great, for sure, but nine to one is in no way an accurate reflection of quality differences. I’m left feeling that a big round of applause is due to Fischer’s marketing and athlete support programs which have always been excellent.
This year I’m surprised and pleased to see that, so far, Madshus is really holding its own. I believe strongly in all the companies I work with, and I think that Madshus may really be the “right” choice for some customers.
It looks as though we’ll add a third brand to the line-up a little later in the summer. We’ve got most of the arrangements made, and need to speak with some racing department personnel a little more about specifics with regard to the skis. It’ll be interesting to see how that changes things in the brand distribution.
We decide which companies to work with based on a few simple criteria. First, the company needs to see the value in our approach and business model, and agree to work with us. At this point most companies are happy to work with us. We need to see good control of materials and good direction in the design process for us to be confident that the company will not just keep up, but drive innovation in the industry. And the logistics need to work for us to hand pick all of our inventory. It’s a tired old adage that “every company makes great skis”, but it’s probably true. There are some tough decisions to be made about who to work with. In the end, we’ve got to limit our scope a little bit to ensure that we bring the same qualities to the table that we look for in our suppliers: control and direction.