One year ago, BW reported on custom ski manufacturers in the area. We learned a lot about this burgeoning industry and were fascinated to discover just how these mom-and-pop establishments are able to innovate while competing with much larger manufacturers.
One year later:
I flew up to McCall recently to check in with Ullr Skis to see how business is going, especially given the lack of cooperation from mother nature this winter.
Ullr owner Matt Neuman was upbeat and happy to hear from us. His small-but-efficient operation cranked out more than 50 pairs of custom skis during the 2010-20011 season, and despite a relatively weak snowpack thus far for 2012, he is currently working on 16 pairs of skis and mentoring two apprentices, making the Ullr shop a busy place these days.
"We've seen a huge uptick in interest in the last year," said Neuman.
In addition to making more skis, Ullr has also improved the ski industry through its "open source approach" to craft creation. Through collaboration with other custom builders across the United States and Canada, Ullr has fine tuned and integrated numerous cutting-edge ski technologies, while maintaining an eco-friendly operation. Neuman has successfully utilized various new resin products—including some pine-based bio-resins—as well as highly desirable carbon fiber applications.
According to Neuman, using these technologies has allowed Ullr to get the weight down on many of their builds, while "adding a lot of life to [their] skis." With these improvements has come a slight increase in price, though. The inaugural Ullr sticks came in around $300 (base price) last year. With the addition of these new technologies, increasing the Ullr base price by about $100, they are still considerably more affordable than comparable large-scale manufacturers.