Steamboat startups: Locally harvested wood, simple design define Harvest Skis
Established: Winter 2014-15
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Locally harvested wood, simple design define Harvest Skis
Steamboat Springs — When Eric Baker signed up for a ski and snowboard product design class at Colorado Mountain College, he hoped he would learn how to fabricate a pair of skis himself.
“It was something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Baker, 45.
The class turned out to be a place to design and create a ski or snowboard brand, so Baker focused his energy on dreaming up a line of skis with a simple look that focused on the use of locally harvested wood. He named the brand Harvest Skis.
“I really wanted to get away from all the plastic,” said Baker, who previously ran an arborist company where he often found new uses for downed and trimmed trees.
“And the time of year when we start thinking about skiing again is harvest time.”
When it was time for the CMC class to vote on a favorite design, Baker’s idea was most popular among his classmates.
“Connecting the skis to locally sourced wood and sustainable materials helped sell his brand,” said Michael Martin, director of CMC’s ski and snowboard business program.
Martin asked Baker which manufacturer he wanted to use to make every person in the class a set of his Harvest Skis — students had agreed to purchase the winning design before signing up for the class.
“I said I wanted to do it,” Baker remembers, “And that was the first run of 30.”
Baker made his first pair of skis on Jan. 1, 2015, and since then, he’s completed more than 70 pairs.
“That first season was a pretty big R and D season,” he said. “I got some really good feedback.”
A father of two young daughters and a part-time musician, Baker now dedicates his free time to making new skis — what he calls a hobby business.
Using locally harvested aspen, fir and maple, Baker presses layers of wood, fiberglass and a plastic topsheet at 180 degrees for 40 minutes using a large ski press in his rented 12th Street shop. The process holds the skis together and defines the camber.
This winter, Baker, who is growing his business on word-of-mouth, plans to complete his first run of snowboards and is hopeful he’ll churn out 100 pairs of skis and boards.
“I’ve taken the feedback I’ve gotten and am going to start making different models,” he said. “People are really fascinated by the skis. It’s kind of a standout look.”
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