Lib Tech 2022/23 Snowboards Preview
Retail Buyers Guide: Snowboards 2022/23 Retail Buyer’s Guide
Brand: Lib Tech
Interviewee: Pete Saari, Co Founder/ VP Marketing
Please provide an overview of how 2022/23 is shaping up for your brand.
We manufacture all our own boards near Canada in the USA. We are coming of a good year in North America. Excitement for snowboarding was so strong it more than made up for the Covid restriction challenges in Europe. We are really hoping that Europe can have resorts open and reasonable travel policies that allow shops to rebound and have a great winter season this year. Like every business we have faced the headwinds of material and shipping challenges, it’s been a bit more stressful but we have been able to manage through the obstacles. Our design team has been travelling a bit less than usual and was really focused on refinements in the factory and building the best line possible for ourselves, the riders and retailers this year. I think it’s probably our best one yet…!
Everyone has been affected by impacts from Covid-19 in one way or another. Have you had to change manufacturing or sourcing processes and can you explain any good examples of how your business has pivoted effectively?
Yes there have been some challenges… we have been running every day for over 30 years and it has never been quite this exciting. A simple pivot we made was to stock more volumes of key materials…everything takes longer to get and ship we are very focused on keeping the factory supplied and running smoothly so we can meet demand and ship on time. The biggest challenge with boards in Europe has been shipping…we are adjusting our build calendars, working the logistics details as aggressively as possible and have our fingers crossed for improvements in the variables we can’t control.
Carry-over was a hot topic for 21/22 boards. Where did your brand sit on the matter and has this changed for 22/23?
We have always had a few boards in the line that are carry over…the BRD and Split BRD for example. This year we carried forward the Orca Split.
The bricks and mortar model is changing rapidly. How are you working with retailers and your ecommerce channel to ensure as little conflict as possible?
We are dedicated to brick and mortar retail. Pre booking with retailers gives us clear visibility into our orders and allows us to plan our annual builds. Many of our largest retailers have strong on line programs backing up their brick and mortar businesses. We have an online business but it takes a back seat to delivering to shops. When we have boards available at once it is generally available to our retailers on our B to B site and then our own on line site.
What’s your company doing to improve its carbon footprint/eco consciousness?
We have always been an environmentally focused manufacturer so we are continuing our longtime environmental practices and always trying to improve. We work with a partner to compost all our saw dust back into soil that is used in gardens and landscaping. We have a solvent free manufacturing process and produce zero hazardous waste. Our proprietary water based eco sublimation process produces beautiful colors and frees us from the toxic lacquers and solvents that many manufactures use…our factory doesn’t smell yucky or give you a headache. We use fast growing renewable FSC certified wood in our cores. Our Bio Beans top sheets are made from plant based oils. We use low VOC resin systems that are plant based. Almost all the power we use to run our factory is green hydro electric. We have an extensive recycling program that encompasses almost every material in our process.
Are you using any new materials in your hardware for 22/23? If so, what, and why? We’re interested in anything new in inserts / edges / cores / sidewalls / glue / resin/ wood types / base material etc here.
We are always experimenting…having our own factory makes that part of the game really fun. We just launched the T Rice Apex Orca last year that combines Flat tow Carbon with Carbon mesh, recycled PET and Paulownia core that smooths the ride to perfection. We have more exciting concepts that will be tested all winter. This year the focus at the factory has been on execution of the basics and making good on the promises we made.
What about shapes? Anything new for 22/23? Does anything remain unexplored, or are there still advances to be made in shaping specifically?
We are always refining and fine tuning shapes…sometimes it feels like everything has been done but there is always room for improvement or changes as snowboarding evolves. We love riding and working closely with riders to build equipment that will elevate their performances and make their shred dreams come true. This year we worked with Matt Biolos to redesign all the Lib X Lost shapes to incorporate surfy hardcarving progressive sidecuts…in surfing everything is built off the bottom turn…Matts vision for snowboarding is that everything builds of agile turns and hardcarving arcs. His boards all ride amazing. We put a lot of time into the Golden Orca that was released last February and it still feels brand new.
What new items do you have that are specifically aimed at entry level? Has this increased/decreased due to COVID-19? Please also mention anything new that’ll be aimed at the youth market.
Our Skate Banana, Glider, Cold Brew and Cortado models have always been great board for first time riders. The easy riding banana hybrid contours on these models make learning to much easier and more intuitive. These boards are great because they help riders progress quickly and are great intermediate and advanced boards that many of our pros ride so they will always be relevant as people improve their skills. For youth we have the Dynamo directional freeride camber model that is very popular with our groms as well as the easy riding twin Banana Blaster that is a perfect first board.
Prices: Which area of the market do you primarily cater to, price-wise? Have you revisited this after the uncertainty of this past winter?
We have always been a premium performance brand that focused on mid-priced to high end. We live snowboards and manufacturing we are going to have to elevate our price points a bit this year to compensate for increased material prices and paying our craftspeople properly. Looking forward to a more stable future.
Please tell us about the dominant visual themes in your 22/23 gear, including any interesting artist collabs you have lined up.
Annette Veihelman, our design team and all our artists put a lot of energy into every board this year. We worked with Alaska native carver James Johnson on the Double Dip…he is an amazing Tlingit artist that is invigorating the magic art of his culture and bringing to light some challenging aspects of American history with positivity. Travis worked with San Francisco based skateboarder artist Andrew Shoultz on his Orca series. The original art will be auctioned off to help support the Orca Conservancy in their efforts to preserve our local Orca population. Schoph went out of this world to create the T Rice pro this year and it looks amazing. Our own craftsmen turned sales rep Ryan Davis created an amazing woodsy, mountainy, skaty vision for the Skate Banana this year. Ray Troll’s most iconic art ever lives on Erik Jacksons E Jack model this year. On the women’s side Gianna Andrews a local skier/snowboarder did our Glider model. Matt Biolos’s daughter Ryder took her world famous surf art skills and applied them to our Cortado model. Jamie Lynn did some amazing work this year including our Dynamiss model. Our legendary photographer Tim Zimmermans work lights up the No 43 cambered freestyle stick. Lots more I left out…you will have to all the artist interviews on the website when the line drops.
Park? Freeride? All-mountain? where will your primary focus be in 22/23, and how much has that changed since 21/22?
We have great offerings in all categories. We have always been a power freestyle company that focuses on all mountain performance. The majority of our boards are built to rip the terrain you encounter every day at your local resort and then absolutely destroy those special days where it all comes together. The TRS is completely updated to be the perfect competition pipe and big park freestyle board.
Best Sellers/Hero products
Orca: Not your gutless fish. Travis has juiced up this Jackson Hole resort slasher into an apex all terrain tech shred predator. A long floaty nose combined with a powerful poppy contact maximizing short radius “Whale Tail Technology”. A tight 7m trench gouging sidecut. Wide enough to allow you to really put it on a hardpack rail with no toe drag and float pillows like a dream but still narrow enough to be your daily driver all season long. Travis and Mervin will be donating a portion of the sale of each Orca snowboard to the www.orcaconservancy.org in support of their efforts to prevent the extinction of the Salish Sea’s Southern Resident Killer Whales. #betheirvoice
Lost Retro Ripper: Matt and our ExperiMENTAL division updated all of the Lib X Lost models this year. This Japan inspired floaty nosed, powder loving swallow tail, all mountain ripping, wall hanger got some stylish shape refinements and a new elliptical deep sidecut carving engine. The Long floaty low entry nose, set back camber synced with a hard driving progressive sidecut wrapped in beautiful Biolos lines with a tail settling, nose lifting, carve enhancing swallow tail is pretty much the perfect surf minded snowboard… It‘s not really retro it’s timeless….
No 43: The No.43 got even better with some extra width for squared up freestyle stances and is the perfect board for power freestylers who approach the whole mountain like it’s their personal park. Premium HP construction with a responsive, poppy C2x hybrid contour in a freestyle twin shape make this board a super power. Love always wins in the battle of the boards. 4 letters in the word LOVE, 3 letters in the word YOU. Ride the No.43 and feel the LOVE.