Hand-made in Switzerland, PLAY Snowboards are all about fun and sustainability. Chris Spoerri talks about how together with Co-Founder Phillipp Gossweiler, they manage a flexible, eco-oriented custom production and are about to launch a new ‘country-flag’ range of boards.
Please give an overview on how and why the brand began.
It was in 1988 when I (Chris Spoerri) and my school mate built our first snowboard in the garage. We were convinced that we could make better boards than the ones that were on the market at the time. We succeeded in making lighter and more playful boards and started to sell them to friends and family. In the late nineties, I started to make customised boards professionally and called the brand Pumpkin Snowboards. When Philipp Gossweiler joined me in 2004, everything became even more professional. Since then, we’ve worked out many new shapes and technologies which made many snowboarders very happy. Pro riders, companies, and customers from all over the world trust in our know-how and workmanship. Our snowboards regularly hit the top of the podiums in all-important snowboard events around the globe. Three years ago, we decided to change the name from Pumpkin to PLAY Snowboards. A dedicated snowboard brand – made in Switzerland.
Who are the people behind Play, and what are their backgrounds?
Chris Spoerri – Founder of Cloud 9 Distribution – “I left my studies as an Electronic Engineer to manage the snowboard section of a big winter sports store. Three years and a trip around the world later, I founded the company Cloud 9 Distribution which is runs b2c and b2b business in Switzerland.
Philipp Gossweiler – started to work with Cloud 9 in 2004 – “I was Cloud 9’s first employee and started as a sales person in the store. Later, I got involved with designs and production of the snowboards together with Chris.”
What is the brand ethos?
Snowboarding is fun! PLAY Snowboards are all about fun and sustainability. Of course, we want every customer to be happy with the product but it is also vital that our ecological footprint is as small as possible. We reduce production waste to a minimum, use as eco-friendly materials as possible and keep the shipping means as short as we can. Most importantly, our boards are hand-made at our local factory (the Factory 9), here in Switzerland. Yet, the price range doesn’t exceed that of the high-end boards from bigger snowboard brands.
What’s new from the brand for the 20/21 season?
We updated a few shapes and came up with more sizes for some models. As an eye-catcher, we created the new ‘country flag’ range for pro rider Queralt Castellet which is available on our Halloween Model.
How are you marketing the brand?
As we are work with many pro riders on the world tour (Scotty James, Pat Burgener, Toby Miller, Iouri Podladtchikov, Queralt Castellet, Dave Habluetzel, etc.), it is our focus to point out this part of our story. Our boards have made it to the top of the most important podiums – Olympic Games, X-Games, World Championships and many more. To spread the word, we mostly use social media, support local events (competitions, demo days) and some print media. Snowboarding is fun! That’s our policy with Play Snowboards. Our name is a programme and if you are open to it, we guarantee you will have unlimited fun on our snowboards.
Where are you manufacturing your snowboards?
We build our snowboards in our little factory called ‘Factory 9’ (www.factory9.ch) that’s based in Winterthur, Switzerland. We proudly stamp the ‘made in Switzerland’ label on all those snowboards. At the same factory, we also make custom boards for several pro riders, shops, companies, and end consumers who want to have their own ‘pro model’ made. This has been the best solution, because we are super flexible and can change production steps very quickly if needed. Plus, the quality management is 100% in our hands.
Why should retailers stock your brand?
Our know-how that we have from working at World Cup level.
We use the best materials only.
Our snowboard graphics are very easy to sell.
We have boards for every taste and skill level.
All our boards are made in Switzerland.
Where are you currently distributed and what is your most successful territory and why?
We focus on the Swiss market. We also sell directly to shops outside Switzerland but we’re not looking for international distributors for now.
What are the plans for the future of Play?
The idea is to steadily grow within our domestic market. Once we reach a level where we think we could take a step outside Switzerland, we’ll take it. But we’re not in a hurry. We always prefer quality to quantity.