Friday, June 3, 2011

Burton, Rolland & Sims - The Fortunes of Three Snowboard Entrepreneurs

Being a snowboard entrepreneur isn’t an easy career. It takes ambition, a whole variety of skills, a lot of graft and a hefty dose of good fortune to turn a snowboarding passion into a successful business and a whole dollop more of all three things to really make it big. For every Jake Burton, there are thousands of people who crashed and burned like Lady Di at some point in the process. Today we take three of the early snowboarding entrepreneurs and compare the rise and fall of their fortunes, through the medium of a handy chart...

Here are the three subjects:
Jake Burton Carpenter built up the empire that now dominates the snowboarding industry and accounts for about 50% of all equipment sales.
Regis Rolland is one of the biggest names in European snowboarding, bursting onto the scene with the seminal and completely bonkers Apocalypse Snow movie series before becoming a serial snowboard entrepreneur.
Toms Sims claims to be the inventor of snowboarding and at the start he was one of the biggest names in the sport but a series of unfortunate events saw him lose out to his arch rival Jake Burton at around the 1990 mark.
Here’s what happened in a pretty chart.
Sims and Burton started at the same time, they had similar levels of passion, put in huge amounts of work and had similar ambitions, but ultimately they ended up with very different results. Jake Burton Carpenter gets interviewed by business magazines, his smiling visage gurns out at you from airport posters all around the world and someone even went to the trouble of turning his story into a comic book. On the other side we couldn’t really even find a decent timeline of Tom Sims career to steal to put on our site and pretend we wrote it ourselves. 
There were many reasons and numerous moments that made the difference between these two guys, but there are a few things that we could see when comparing them and Regis Rolland on this chart. If you want to become a snowboard entrepreneur yourself here are a few things you should know:
  1. Bad news - You will fail. Everybody failed at least once, but good news - they were all able to get back up and start again… and again… and again… so far.
  2. Licensing is not a good solution. Tom Sims has proven this by trying the same idea, and ending up in and acrimonious failure each and every time.
  3. And this is the easiest rule to follow. Avoid running a snowboard business in 1990, both Rolland and Sims had a very bad year, so it’s probably best to avoid falling for that one.
  4. Good luck.  
Here are the individual the timelines of each entrepreneur, but if this is not your bag then skip to the bottom for some hot electric violin action…

Jake Burton Carpenter 

1954 Born in New York City
1977 Founds Burton Snowboards
1981 After the initial attempt at starting his business fails he has to temporarily move back home
1984 Opens new office in Manchester Centre, Vermont
1985 Establishes Burton Europe
1992 Relocates factory to Burlington, Vermont
1994 Establishes Burton Japan
1996 Founds R.E.D
1998 Founds Gravis Footwear
2001 Founds Anon Optics
2003 Founds Analog Clothing
2004 Acquires Forum, Special Blend, Foursquare (now a successful geo-location social network*)
2006 Acquires Channel Islands Surfboards
*Not ‘factually’ true
1960 Born in Grenoble, France
1981 Becomes a ski instructor in Les Arcs
1982 Introduced to snowboarding by the Winterstick team
1983 Stars in Apocalypse Snow and becomes known as “The Gliding Genie”.
1985 Apocalypse Snow II
1985 Founds Apocalypse Surf producing snowboards in Europe
1986 Apocalypse Snow III
1990 Sells Apocalypse Surf, by then a failing business, to a US company where it became Apocalypse Snowboard USA. Rolland moved to the US and continued to work for the company until he left in 1992.
1993 Founds A Snowboards
1997 A Snowboards merges with Grand Chavin, makers of Hot and Hammer snowboards.
1999 Failing Grand Chavin group is then acquired by Rossignol
2003 Rossignol close down the Grand Chavin company
2003 Founds APO Snowboards after not being allowed to buy back the rights for A Snowboards brand from Rossignol.
2006 Apocalypse Snow ‘La Retour’, the fourth instalment of the Apocalypse Snow series.
2010 APO Acquired by Snowide SAS
1950 Born in Haddonfield, New Jersey
1960 Learned to skateboard and ski
1963 ‘Invented’ the world’s first snowboard during woodshop class
1966 Learned to surf
1975 Becomes the skateboarding World Champion
1976 Founds Sims Skateboards
1977 Sims Skateboards becomes the World’s largest skateboard company.
1977 Founds Sims Snowboards
1981 Sells Sims Skateboards to Vision
1986 Licenses the failing Sims Snowboards business to Vision
1990 Breaks with Vision after Vision hits financial troubles and bankruptcy
1991 Regains rights to Sims Snowboards name
1991 Sells European licence to DNR Sportsystem
1996 Terminated relationship with DNR Sportsystem
2006 Licences Sims Snowboard brand to Collective Licensing which in-tern licences exclusively with The Sports Authority in the US

Regis Rolland hooning around the mountains to the dulcet sounds of an electric violin. They don’t make them like they used to… 

You might also like…
Tom Sims - Fashion Icon 
See how these entrepreneurs impacted snowboarding on the influences of snowboarding chart or on our interactive snowboard history timeline

1 comment:

  1. Why the fuck is sims listed as inventing snowboarding? There's no evidence of this.


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