How would you describe the current state of the snowboard market? What big developments, changes, challenges, and/or opportunities are you seeing and how is your brand navigating them?
We are board builders so in many ways at Mervin its busiess as usual…work with riders, make cool sticks that rip and look awesome. In other ways it been radical…supply chain materials wrestles, cautious Covid protocalls, global market changes, staffing shortages. We have been navigating it all by a combination improving and streamlining our board building process, materials and elevating our business tracking systems to a higher level to stay ahead of any potential problems. We are stocking more of key materials and using them more efficiently. Everyday brings a new challenge and Anthony Derrocco our CEO is leading the charge for on creative business adaptation/survival formula front.. We are a pre book based business and that helps set our plan for the year…we build some boards for re order and at once but its been limited. We also have a counterseasonal surf and wake business that is become pretty healthy so that helps balance us. Overall we have been working hard with a very experienced motivated crew…work smarter and if you cant do that work harder.
Everyone has been affected by raw materials and shipping price increases and transport issues. Have you had to make any significant changes with regards to manufacturing, sourcing, or logistics? Are there any examples you can share of how your business pivoted effectively? Any positive developments with regards to these issues and the changes you’ve made?
We have had to adjust our calendars and think further ahead on many fronts from shipping boards to the logistics of getting materials in house. We have been able to stock higher volumes of key long lead time or logistically challenged materials which helps stabilize our business…”Nose manny” Saben, “Big Hops” Levi, and “Double Barrel” Darrel our supply chain team keep a close eye on our material inventories at all time…JIT is a think of the past. The best thing about the challenges is that it has demanded we focus on every aspect of the business and the end result is we are doing a better job taking care of our craftspeople, our boards quality is improving and we have lots of ideas to continue improving on our Manufacturing process and factory.
After two years of heavy carry over in the industry and more of a return to normalcy last season, what’s your overall sales and production/inventory strategy for 23/24?
Again we are a pre book business…we build to order and will continue to do so… We do have some models in the line that carry over multiple seasons especially in the split board category.
Do you anticipate any shifts in the ratio of e-commerce sales vs. brick-and-mortar sales now that most Covid-19 restrictions are gone?
We are getting reports that after the radical growth in on line sales during the pandemic there is now some correction back to a more balanced new normal. Brick and mortar stores are reporting lots of activity and strong early season sell through with consumers being able to get back in store, interact with sales crew and touch and feel product . On line retailers are seeing success as well but the radical growth where everything shifted to on line as the only option has ended.
Does your brand have any new developments concerning sustainability and/or how you are positioning any environmental messaging?
We have been an environmentally-minded brand since we began in the 80s and are continuing to push our eco friendly manufacturing initiatives. We build all our own boards in house so we control our process, materials and all aspects of board building. This allows us to focus on and quickly implement positive change. We use low VOC plant based bio resins, fast growing long fibered renewable woods and water based eco sublimation printing on our tops and bases. Our respect the dirt bag sawdust to soil wood dust composting program is a fun project and all over 90% of our power comes from renewable sources hydroelectric and wind. We have some fun projects to elevate our program going forward…this year Mike is incoporating recycled PET bottles into our Techno Pop cores on the Cygnus BM and Travis Rice Apex Golden Orca.
What trends or developments are you seeing with regards to board construction, shapes, and general innovation? How is this shaping your 23/24 range?
We don’t really look at trends industry wide…we like to listen to and work with our riders to build boards that create solutions for challenges they want to take on. Our internal team « Experimental Division » is always working hands on with materials, shape, contour and our process to make better snowboards that are easier to ride, last longer and have better board feel. This year we are pretty excited about how things are coming together. Travis’s boards are amazing with Adam Haynes doing the art for the Orcas and Parillo doing the T Rice Pro series. We are introducing a brand new construction on an Apex Golden Orca with Travis that includes Anti Matter, Techno Pop Carbon mega X and recycled PET foam that is pretty amazing. All of Matt Biolos’s Lib Losts are feeling really good with progressive « bottom turn carving minded progressive sidecuts, floaty soft snow friendly noses. The Rocket and Retro ripper have strongly directional shapes and the Quiver Killer leans towards the high performance freestyle aspect of Matts shaping skills. Phil Hansen and Matteo Soltane worked on our new Off Ramp twin FS model and our TRS power freestyle stick. Austen Sweetin has a new Lib Rig pro model coming out that blends some of his favorite aspects of the Dynamo and BRD shapes into an all new directional FS all mountain machine. Our Experimental Division developed a new soft serve spoon nose 3-D tech that feels lovely in the pow without compromising hardpack performance…Erik Jacksons pro model and our new Directional Freeride Steely D both have this tech. The Double Dip has updated geometries that make it the ultimate playful resort freestyle minded ATV, PNW renown native artist and carver James Johnson did an amazing raven carving specifically for this one.
Are you using any new materials in your hardware for 23/24? If so, what and why? We’re interested in anything new in inserts / edges / cores / sidewalls / glue / resin/ wood types / base material / top sheet / etc. here.
We use lots of fun materials that Mike Olson has discovered on his life long journey into world of composite panel/structure performance and integrity. Paulownia fast growing renewable cores were non existant in snowboard construction when he named is daughter Palonia and we started using it in our cores 23 years ago. Basalt Fiber that smooths rides and has amazing strength is something else he brought that we love. Our Bio Beans top material that used plant oil as its base is another fun one. This year Mike has added recycled PET to the cores of our Carbon mega X Techno Pop construction that comes to live on the T Rice Apex Golden Orca and Cygnus BM (Big Mike 😉
Does any new design or pattern approach in your 23/24 gear? Any collabs on the line?
We look at every year as a brand new design year and evaluate everything we make. It has been fun to work with Phil Hansen and friends on the art for our TRS and Off Ramp models.
We did a collab binding with Bent Metal Binding works again on their Transfer model this year featuring one of our original graphics Lib graphics the Cat Man.
What product range or offerings are you focusing on the most for 23/24 and what aspects of the market are getting the most interest?
We try to put love and energy into every model we make. Each one needs to be able to live in your room as a work of art as well as take you to new hights of shred. We make boards for a wide variety of terrain but the focus of our brand since the beginning has been hard carving power freestyle. Jamie Lynn and Matt Cummins set the tone and it continues today with resort friendly boards that destroy everything…one eye on winning a banked slalom one eye on putting down the gnarliest line of the year and the third eye on crushing run in everyday conditions all year long. Travis Rice’s pro series, Erik Jacksons model, Austen Sweetin’s New Lib Rig, Chris Rasmans model, the Skate Banana, Terrain Wrecker, TRS, Cold Brew, Double Dip, Golden Orca and Jamie Lynn model all fall into that ATV zone.
Are you placing any focus on entry-level products? If so, why and how does this compare to previous years? What is your assessment of the youth market?
We have always worked to make boards that make your first day on hill better turns out they make everyday better on the hill for all skill levels. The Skate Banana with Magnetraction was part of that initiative. Snowboards borrowed camber from skiing and mis applied it for decades…14 years ago the Skate Banana changed all that bringing easier carving, added float, less catchy edges and more intuative snowboarding. The entrly level friendly hybrid rocker/camber contour we intruduced with the Skate Banana now exists in many different refined variations on boards like the Banana Blaster, Skate Banana, Cold Brew and others. We love building youth boards…we work with our local crew to test and refine boards to suit their often (but not always) big feet lighter frame riding needs. We are a premium brand so we tend to sell to higher end minded parents or youth but we always take a hit on margin to try and make the youth boards affordable.
Pricewise, which area of the market do you cater to? What developments are you seeing with regards to product pricing?
We have always been a high end brand that hits in the mid price to premium price range. Pricing has been interesting these past few years with materials, logistics and craftsmen salaries constantly moving upwards. We do everything we can to run efficiently on all fronts and pour our hearts into every board and balance that with pricing that allows us to stay in buisiness but doesnt break the bank. Everything from avocados to energy has sky rocketed in price lately. Hopefully we have great snow seasons and we all get a little mental health boost ripping around the mountains and shred zones.
What are your top product marketing stories for next season?
Travis Rice Apex Golden Orca
We are introducing a brand new construction on the Natural Selection winning Apex Golden Orca with Travis that includes Anti Matter, Techno Pop Carbon mega X and recycled PET foam that is pretty light weight poppy smooth riding and amazing.
Off Ramp and TRS
Phil Hansen and Matteo Soltane worked on our new Off Ramp twin FS jib model and our TRS 3 D Org Throttle power freestyle stick. These guys focused on everything from geometries to art and design on these power freestyle twins.
Lib X Mayhem
Our Lib X Mayhem project has been fun on both the surf and snow sides. All of Matt Biolos’s Lib Losts are meticulously refined to perfection with progressive « bottom turn carving minded progressive sidecuts, floaty soft snow and pow friendly noses. The Rocket and Retro ripper have strongly directional shapes that settle nicely into soft snow and the Quiver Killer refined by Devin Tubbs aka Tubbsy leans towards the high performance freestyle world tour aspects of Matts shaping skills.
Austen Sweetins new Rig
Austen Sweetin has a new Lib Rig pro model coming out that blends some of his favorite aspects of the Dynamo and BRD shapes into an all new directional FS all mountain machine.
Experimental Shapes…E Jack and Steely D soft serve spoon nose.
Our Experimental Division developed a new soft serve spoon nose 3-D tech that feels floatly lovely in the pow without compromising hardpack performance…Erik Jacksons pro model and our new Directional Freeride Steely D both got the love upgrade on this one.
Jamie Lynns new models featureing 1910 Schoph / Lynn colab graphics
Jamies Short Wide Baldface stick and his resort ATV are both part of a 1910 colab project this year with amazing art by these two visual genius shredders.