Today I’d like to introduce you guys to Adam Browning and John Byler of OZ Snowboards and Longboards. These guys and their company have a special place in my heart being they were an official sponsor of one of my most recent microadventures, a 30 mile, 12 hour skate trek from Boulder to Denver, Colorado.
But more than just on a personal level, they’re an amazing company and a perfect example of what a small group of individual entrepreneurs can do with their passion. What sets OZ apart from the rest is A.) Their boards are handcrafted. No mass production from China, every board is unique. B.) They’re based right here in Colorado in the lovely town of Evergreen just outside of Denver. C.) It’s a small operation run by a small army of just a few guys with big ideas. Supporting these types of individuals is what makes the world go round. D.) They use sustainable processes and woods to build their boards. Even their factory is 100% wind powered!
And so today, I’d like to introduce you to the guys running the show. Check out their website, snowboards and longboards when you’re done reading their story too. This is the kind of company you’d be proud rep displayed on your gear. I myself am clearly an evangelist - Lauren Rains
OMM: First of all, tell us about your beautiful boards and what makes them different.
Adam: Almost everything is different about an OZ Snowboard! Frustrated with the lack of innovation in snowboard design for the last 20 years, I decided to take a look at every part of the snowboard construction and find ways to make them better. The most dramatic change is our use of aerospace grade triaxial carbon fiber in lieu of fiberglass. Carbon fiber is three times as strong, a third of the weight of fiberglass, and more lively. The next innovation is in our core. We have designed a full-‐length wood core with no finger joints. Most snowboard manufacturers use finger joints in their cores and that creates weak points and inconsistent flex patterns. Our cores will perform the same at any point in the board. We also decided to incorporate a honeycomb Kevlar core to further lighten our boards and increase vibration absorption. All of our boards have choice wood veneers, recycled ultra-‐high molecular weight sidewalls, and we use epoxy sourced from the waste streams of other industrial processes.
OMM: What inspired you to start a snowboard business? How did you evolve into a longboard business, as well?
Adam: Snowboarding has been my passion since the mid 1980’s. I always had plans in the back of my head to create a snowboard manufacturing business. When the opportunity presented itself I jumped in 100%! The longboard business has been booming and it was a natural progression for OZ. We use a lot of the same processes and equipment so it was a smooth transition. Our goal with the Longboard Company is to make top of the line boards with our trademark wood veneers.
OMM: What type of sustainable practices do you incorporate with your company?
Adam: Our factory is 100% wind powered. We use recycled sidewall material and we use a bio renewable epoxy that is sourced from the waste streams of other industrial processes. We also use wood veneer top sheets to reduce the plastic waste of a traditional printed top sheets. OZ has future plans to incorporate recycled metal edges and base sheets.
OMM: How long have you lived in Colorado?
Adam: I am a 3rd generation Coloradoan.
OMM: What is it like to be a true local business and to create handmade products?
Adam: Having a Colorado based handcrafted product is very rewarding. We are proud to employee local workers and source our material from U.S. companies. We are blazing the trail for Colorado based micro snowboard factories and doing our part to support local charities.
OMM: The eco-‐friendly products that you use in your shop tend to be more expensive than other alternatives, what drives you to pay more for this extra expense and what is the reward?
Adam: Our goal at OZ is simple: to make a better board in the most environmentally friendly way possible. Choosing the most eco-‐friendly components is more of our responsibility to the environment than worrying about the small costs associated with them. We may not have the industries highest profit margin but at the end of the day we are happy with the product we produce and hopefully doing our part to limit the impact on the environment.
OMM: How does it feel to know that your boards are getting people outdoors and are providing them with a way to enjoy nature?
Adam: As a Coloradoan, you have a duty to get out and enjoy our beautiful state. If my boards create an avenue for people to get out and enjoy the outdoors then that makes OZ a success.
OMM: What do you love about snowboarding?
Adam: It’s medication for the soul.
OMM: Your boards are so unique, how did you come up with the idea to use wood veneers for design purposes instead of the normal graphics?
Adam: To me wood veneers represent what is so good about snowboarding like the outdoors and the beauty of nature. Snowboard graphics have gone so far to the extreme of gaudy that I knew riders would seek out something more in line with their riding style and personality.
OMM: What type of snowboard styles can we expect for the upcoming season?
Adam: We will have 2 base shapes for 2012-‐2013. The Verix is our hybrid camber/rocker design. It has camber between the bindings with an early rise-‐ rockered tip and tail. This board is ideal for big mountain riding. Our second shape is our OLI. The OLI is our full rocker elliptical sidecut. This base shape allows for the surfy feel of a rocker at slow speeds but excellent edge hold when you shred down the mountain.
OMM: As an owner of a snowboard business, what is your policy for yourself and your employees on powder days?
Adam: 6” or more put your tools on the floor and get out the door! It’s a strict policy.
John Byler – Longboard CO-‐Founder & Designer
OMM: What is an OZ longboard all about?
John: OZ is all about creating a higher end product with a touch of individuality. That’s why our longboards are made with select rock-‐hard maple plys. We strive to make each board completely unique with their own wood-‐veneer topsheet design.
John: Longboarding has always been a passion of mine while growing up. It was a way to live in the moment and enjoy that snowboard or surf-‐like experience when the mountain or ocean was out of reach.
OMM: What inspires the shape and design for the boards?
John: The organic, natural beauty of our wood-‐veneer design stems from our love for nature and the outdoors. Our current 40” Pintail longboard offers a classic carving feel and is the perfect board for anyone starting out or for an advanced rider wanting to progress on the downhill. Our 32” shorty board is great for urban commutes. It is stashable and provides a sharp, surf-‐like experience. Both boards have a full offset camber profile with a radial concave base and a wide tapered nose. This creates a responsive, comfortable board that can be pumped much like riding a wave or carving the mountain.
OMM: What is it like creating a local, handmade product?
John: Producing a board right here in Colorado is incredible. The ability to produce a board in house and test it on local mountains and hills the same day has allowed us to constantly improve the performance of our products.
OMM: What’s your favorite part about manufacturing longboards?
John: Producing an OZ longboard by hand requires strong attention to detail. I love creating this product knowing that it will provide someone with an amazing riding experience.
OMM: How many boards do you usually average per day?
John: Only one or two from start to finish because of our timely and detail oriented production process. We prefer to sacrifice a little extra time producing a premium board that we know our customers will love, rather than pumping out as many products as possible. We stand behind our work, which is why we offer a three-‐year warranty on both snowboards and longboards.
OMM: Do you have anything new in the works for the longboard line?