In an effort to be transparent with our valued customers, we wanted to offer a place for customers to ask our president questions about RAMP skis, snowboards, and coming soon—longboards. If you have a question for Mike that you want addressed in his weekly blog, please email [email protected] and include "Ask Mike" in the subject line. This is his first one about RAMP ski and snowboard durability.
Hello friends of RAMP,
Another question I get asked a lot is: Tell me what you're doing that's green, or what makes you a responsible company? I like this question a lot as we really built the company from the bottom up based on best practices. Gary Hirshberg, our first big investor and founding board member, founded Stonyfield Farms Yogurt and Organic Food Company. He built the entire company around the concept that there are always a variety of brands. If your company is committed to best practices and always doing the right thing, consumers will be more attracted to your brand. He gave us a lot of good advice. When we founded RAMP, we spent a lot of time brainstorming who we were and how we could be that kind of company. We came up with some creative ideas, such as how we implement green practices into running the company. For instance, when we ship skis and snowboards to consumers, we ship them in re-usable padded ski and snowboard bags instead of boxes; therefore, eliminating thousands of boxes. We were concerned about how people threw old skis and boards in landfills so we came up with a buy back program—send your old skis or boards to us and we give a $50 trade in when you purchase a new pair. We donate them to adaptive programs or re-use them making furniture, coat racks, or wine racks through partner companies such as SkiChair.com. We also make a donation that is the equivalent to 300 pounds of carbon offset for every pair of skis or boards we sell. We pay extra to buy wind generated Blue Sky energy.
We make a big effort to upcycle factory scrap or materials. In front of our building is a 30-foot yeti that is made of factory scrap. All of the outside fur is the material that is trimmed from making skis and snowboards. His rear arm is even a rail-air feature allowing athletes to slide down it for events and photo shoots. Below is a video from our Bamboozle party where we unveiled the yeti, and our employee/athlete Chris Dakoulas hit the arm feature for the first time. Very impressive to see. At that party we also held an art show where 25 local artists contributed work they made from our factory scraps; we had 500 came to buy art, enjoy live music from our music partners, and watch Chris slide the yeti. We also hold a bi-annual contest (#artofshred) where people make all kinds of art projects with our scrap to try to win a full ski or board setup from RAMP. We love the fact that the local community is turning what would normally be waste into amazing things.
RAMP Bamboozle from RAMP Sports on Vimeo.
When we built our own factory we created a new manufacturing process and use more expensive materials that boost performance and also have more green characteristics. Typically using green materials in manufacturing is difficult as they often just don't work—they don't have the right strength or durability. First and foremost materials have to be legitimate. We did however find some that are better than the non-green counter parts. Our cores are made from FSC certified bamboo, which is triple the cost of the industry norm Poplar or Aspen wood, but gives a tremendous boost in performance and durability. They are much more sustainable. We also found a U.S. made resin that is pine byproduct versus petro-chemical based. It has superior adhesion and strength.
For us, it's key to build this kind of extra cost into the foundation of our brand. When it's always a part of our planning and thinking, it's part of the culture of the company. For companies that have been around a long time and have a well established cost structure, it's really tough to change and retro fit this into a program. We did an extensive analysis in 2013 and found that we are spending about 12 percent above what it would cost if we didn't do the kind of things I mentioned above. That's a serious commitment, and a big reason musicians and artists are willing to be positioned on our website as they believe in our commitment to best practices.
For more information about our green programs, go to our Green page. We are always trying to find new ways to implement best practices and find new ways to upcycle our waste materials. If anybody wants to send some new ideas, we are wide open.
Thanks for listening. Let me know your thoughts. Comment below or email me questions ([email protected]). Be back next week.
Mike Kilchenstein, CESnow