20 Questions: Scott Andrus, ON3P skis

17) BLISTER: What do you see as the greatest areas for improvement

Scott: Our greatest improvement will come from making the workload more manageable for everyone who works here. The goal right now is to get the workload down to a normal 40-hour workweek. After a couple of years, 60-80 hour workweeks can begin to really take their toll. My goal is to make working here more manageable and practical for my employees, while ensuring that we reach a sustainable and then profitable point.

18) BLISTER: ON3P’s topsheets are some of the coolest on the planet, which is interesting, because they are hardly beautiful in any traditional sense. Many of them (this year’s Billy Goat, Jeffrey, Jeronimo, Cease and Desist, Vicik) are like these raw, modern collages. In fact, “Authentic” and “Raw” are the words that first come to mind when I look at the collection. So you’ve got these incredibly cool, kind of ugly skis, and every time out on the Billy Goats, the Jeronimos, or the Caylors, all you hear from people is, “Sick skis!” (All of our reviewers have said that they get more comments about ON3Ps than any other skis we test.)

191 ON3P Billy Goat, Blister Gear Review
2011-2012 191cm ON3P Billy Goat

It’s funny: we’ve talked a decent amount on BLISTER about how much time and energy is put into topsheet design, yet some companies seem to get it, and others just sort of don’t. How much are you personally weighing in on the graphics? Is it a democratic process and final vote? Or are you giving a complete green light to a particular artist for each ski?

Scott: First, I need to give Matty Jeronimo and Trevor Woods the credit they deserve. The work these guys do is incredible and I am extremely fortunate to have them involved with ON3P. I cannot stress enough how important they have been in developing ON3P as a brand.

For our first few graphics, Matty just put them together on his own. These were the 09/10 Caylor, Great Scott (now Cease & Desist), and Wrenegade. There were 2 more graphics we decided not to use, but Matty basically said he would do some graphics and came back with three awesome, ready-to-go tops. I think we tweaked a few things to make them fit better on skis, but essentially we just said “go for it,” and he delivered. These topsheets were around for a couple of years by the time we got to use them on production skis, but he really set the standard high from the beginning.

For all of our graphics beyond those initial three (so remaining 09/10, 10/11, 11/12, and 12/13 graphics), there has been a lot more discussion and development between us and Matty and Trevor. In almost every case, we won’t see the graphic until it is maybe 50-60% done. It is up to our artists to get the graphic going and bring it to a point where we can start to give feedback. We then go back and forth, usually over 5-6 drafts, where we provide comments and relay changes that we want to see made, and our artists continue to develop the graphic as they want, taking into account our comments. Everyone has a pretty fair say when it comes to graphics, but if there is a final call to be made, it is made by me (though I often leave any final decision up to the artist, as I figure they know best).

It can be tough at times because you can get a lot of varying opinions, but we usually come to a consensus on the final version. Overall, our artists have a lot of freedom and are really the main force behind each topsheet’s development. We are really just there to help guide it along to something we are all happy with in the end.

19) BLISTER: Is there a clear structure / relegation of duties at ON3P, and how many people are full time right now?

The best way I could answer this is that it is a work in progress. We are still working the ins and outs of who is doing what and who has what responsibility. We are now to the point that I am not managing everything, so we’ve been transitioning certain tasks and responsibilities to everyone else here. The structure it not yet set in stone, as we are learning as we go, but I think by the time our 2012/2013 production cycle starts, I will be happy with how we are running the business.

As of now, we have four full time employees (including myself) and a slew of interns who help with material prep and finishing. I hope to bring on another few people full time for production next season.

20) BLISTER: You’ve mentioned that ON3P got started with a bunch of support and input from TGR and newschoolers. Are any of the people building skis with you now guys you met on those boards? Have you known your crew for quite a while now?

Scott: Yeah. Rowen Tych and Sam Caylor were both NS members who bought early tester pairs, were involved in their development, and came down to help build them in Tacoma. Rowen is now our Production Manager and Sam Caylor is our PNW Rep (after spending some time building with us in our first production cycle). David Steele and Josh Anderson were also NS members involved in developing ON3P, building the first prototypes in Tacoma, and testing them out the next season. Both are on our team right now.

Base work, by ON3P's Kip Kirol.
Base work, by ON3P’s Kip Kirol.

And Kip Kirol was actually one of our initial testers as well. He knew of us through David Steele, who was able to convince him to pick up a tester pair from our Tacoma build, and now he is our Materials Manager. So it has proven to be a fairly tight knit group these past few years.

21???) BLISTER: Screw it—one more question. Given all the work, the twists, and the turns of the past few years, what is a favorite or defining moment along this ride you call, ON3P?

Scott: A few really stick out. One is the first time I laid up a pair of skis, way back in Tacoma. It was a cold night back in my garage. All I remember thinking the whole time was “holy crap, what the hell am I doing?!” I ended up using way too much epoxy, so it went everywhere and ended up ruining the mold I was using.  The ski came out…ok. But for me, that was the moment that had been built up for over a year, so actually getting a ski in the press was pretty profound. It is crazy how times have changed, as now I don’t even think twice about laying up a pair of skis.

The first time actually skiing a pair of skis that I had made was pretty crazy, too. It was the last weekend of the 07/08 season at Crystal on a pair of 191cm Wrenegades. It was just really amazing to look down at my feet and realize I was skiing on something I had build from start to finish. That was really cool. Plus, more importantly, they skied really well.

The last moment would probably be signing the lease to our first factory. Up until that point, ON3P as a business had really just been conceptualized.  But once I signed the lease and everything started to become a reality, it was pretty crazy to look back at how far we had come from the garage in Tacoma.

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