20 Questions: Scott Andrus, ON3P skis

6) BLISTER: If you had to pick one and only one for the rest of your life: caffeine or alcohol?

Scott: Alcohol. I’m not a huge coffee drinker, though everyone else at ON3P is. Honestly, more than anything I am probably a wino. For beer, I am not super picky. If I’m buying something nicer these days, it is probably a Porter or ESB, but I am totally fine drinking Rainier or PBR all day long. For booze, I’m happy as long as I have some Stranahan’s or Booker’s.

7) BLISTER: Favorite activities, hobbies, or sports other than skiing?

Scott: At this point, I am either working or skiing. I really don’t have any other hobbies right now. Skis seasons are long in Oregon, and when I’m not skiing, I am working as hard as possible so that, when the season rolls around, I am able to ski as much pow as I can. Besides that, the girlfriend and I am pretty big foodies, so when she is back in Portland from grad school we try to go out and check out new places in Portland. But those times are fairly few and far between these past few years.

Once I have a bit more free time, I want to get back into photography and mountain biking. Back in high school in Boulder, they were both big parts of my life, but for whatever reasons, neither has translated well into my life in the PNW. So hopefully that is something I can change.

At some point, I am sure we will get around to making some surfboards, so maybe some of my friends who surf can drag me out to the Oregon coast as well.

8) BLISTER: Surf boards? Really? Any thoughts about how far off that might be?

I’m honestly more interesting in building them then using them. They would end up being a gift. I’m pretty blind, so the ocean + contact lenses + waves usually ends poorly for me. As for building them, maybe I will be able to find some time to start looking into them this spring.

9) BLISTER: Music, books, TV shows. What are you listening to (at the shop), and reading or watching, during whatever downtime you have?

Scott: The shop is a loud, loud place. Routers, planers, multiple types of saws, grinders, the air compressor running all the time…so headphones are a must. From a music standpoint, I am usually listening to electronic, dubstep, mashups, or something similar. When you are doing something over and over and over, it is good to have music that you can get a bit lost in so you can just focus on the work at hand.

I never have time to sit and read books anymore, so when I need a break from music, I try to listen to audiobooks. Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of non-fiction stuff – Richard Dawkins, Steven Hawkins, Timothy Gladwell, George Friedman, Bill Bryson, Mary Roach….I’ve been listening to some fiction too – The Hunger Games, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc.

At home, we haven’t had cable for a while, so it is pretty much whatever is on Netflix. I am a pretty big science nerd, so I love anything like the Universe, How the Earth was Made, etc. I have a few shows I really like – Dexter, Californication, Battle Star Galactica, South Park, The X-Files. I’ll get around to starting Mad Men and Breaking Bad one of these days. But I don’t have a ton of time to watch anything these days, so it is hard to add lots of new shows.

10) BLISTER: In the process of determining when a ski is ready to go to market, who get’s the most say? If you have reservations about a model, but your team riders or other testers love it, does it go to production?

Scott: At the end of the day, it is my call. I am still the main designer and developer of all of our skis, and I know the ins and outs of what we have built better than anyone. So if there is a tough call to be made, I get to cast the deciding vote. We’ve definitely had different opinions here and there, but for the most part, we haven’t had too many issues with that. Usually we are able to reach a consensus that makes everyone happy about what we are putting out.

When it comes to new concepts and prototype skis, the discussion tends to be a bit more heated and out there. We’ve discussed and drawn up some pretty crazy designs. (Rowen is especially adept at thinking up designs that make my head hurt.)  Sometimes it is difficult to decide how far we want to push a design, or if spending money on a new idea is worth it. But it definitely pays off, as you can see with some of our skis, like the Pillowfight.

ON3P Pillowfight, Blister Gear Review
2011-2012 ON3P Pillowfight

11) BLISTER: When you get to the point where you feel that a ski is dialed, do you keep producing that model, or do you change it up—even though you think it works—to keep up the interest level of customers and keep the orders coming? In other words, do you envision a constantly evolving lineup, or a lineup based upon dialed models?

Scott: I honestly don’t believe any ski can ever be 100% dialed. There are always improvements to be made, and I am always looking to find those improvements. I always have things I am considering tweaking on everything we make. These could be fairly minor things, such as small tweaks to the core profile, layup, or ski shape, or larger tweaks such as entirely new sidecut profiles, completely redesigned core or rocker profiles, or totally new materials incorporated into the layup.

So for me, the lineup will always be constantly evolving. What is tough is when to decide when to make a change wholesale for the production ski. You can be constantly tinkering and tweaking, but at some point, you need to make the decision that, “This is the production version for next year.” You have to consider that the changes you are making might not provide significant or noticeable improvements to the performance of the ski. So you have to balance the practical side of development with the level of improvement achieved by that development.

It isn’t cheap to make large scale changes to a current model, nor is it easy and quick to dial in those changes to a point that we feel is acceptable for a production ski. So you have to be confident that the changes you are marking are right for the ski, and that those changes are going to provide marked improvements for the ski’s performance.

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