4FRNT SKIS Gets New Owners

4FRNT Team Rider Keree Smith (photo by Mary McIntyre)

It was announced today that Jason Levinthal has sold 4FRNT.

Update: Since this was first announced, we recorded a conversation with Jason, 4FRNT’s new owners, and their Brand Manager, Sam Kimmerle for our GEAR:30 Podcast, which you can listen to below. And then you can read below that the full press release.

4FRNT Ski Company Gets New Owners

Company will continue to double down on direct-to-consumer model and athlete-inspired products

4FRNT Ski Company has been acquired by a group of private entrepreneurs from Jason Levinthal. The new owners Charlie Johnson, Will Armenta and Ebi Lange, are longtime friends, entrepreneurs, and passionate skiers. They are motivated by the purity and dedication of the 4FRNT brand to freeride skiing, and are eager to continue to elevate the company’s founding mission of collaborating with pro athletes to develop the industry’s most innovative and award-winning freeride products.

Jason, a 25-year ski industry pioneer, who has founded and led several ski companies, says, “Converting this brand over the past three years from traditional retail distribution to ecommerce while modernizing the product line and digital marketing strategy has enabled 4FRNT to grow and achieve financial stability. It’s only been possible thanks to the hard work and passion of every 4FRNT athlete, supplier, employee, and customer over the past 18 years. I feel fortunate to have been a part of this brand’s rich history and I couldn’t be happier with the new leadership taking the reins from here.”

In addition to the growth of consumer interest in backcountry skiing, the new owners were attracted by 4FRNT’s outsized reputation within the industry, athlete-driven product development process, and lean direct-to-consumer business model. Charlie Johnson who lives in Winter Park, Colorado and has previously competed in big mountain competitions says, “It’s a dream to be so closely involved with a company I’ve admired and been a customer of for years. As we got to know the team and business model, it felt like a perfect fit. We couldn’t be more excited about the current award-winning ski line-up and feel a deep sense of responsibility to continue 4FRNT’s legacy while investing in its future.”

“Today’s environment is accelerating the pace of consumer’s transition to e-commerce and 4FRNT has a proven head start in the ski industry. We’re eager to provide resources and guidance around the customer experience to advance its lead,” says Will Armenta, a product management executive at a leading Silicon Valley technology firm, who invests in- and advises fast-growing digital brands.

Ebi Lange was heavily involved in the 2008 acquisition and turnaround of Rossignol, so he understands first-hand what it takes to run an efficient seasonal manufacturing business. Ebi says, “We have no intention of changing 4FRNT into something it’s not. Our goal is to reinforce and permanently solidify the brand’s values that got it here. We’ll continue working with its current athletes, employees and suppliers, as responsible stewards of the 4FRNT brand, while providing the resources to take it to the next level.”

4FRNT’s marketing manager Sam Kimmerle has been integral in driving the brand in recent years and will assume the role of Brand Manager. He will continue to collaborate with Eric Hjorleifson “HOJI”, Thayne Rich, and other athletes who are involved in content creation and product development.

Legendary big mountain freeride skier and product designer HOJI says, “I’ve been with 4FRNT since its humble beginning and I’m happy to have the opportunity to continue working with the new ownership. I value their commitment to pushing the envelope of product development and look forward to what we can accomplish together.”

26 comments on “4FRNT SKIS Gets New Owners”

    • This actually might be one of the first ski companies ever sold that is in good financial standings and is fully financially stable!

    • When it came down to it, running and operating two independent ski brands was ALOT to juggle. Finding a group of people that could take the keys and help continue to grow the brand and provide a fresh perspective in the DTC market was exactly what we needed.

  1. J-Lev’s business is J-Lev’s business.
    But, reading between the lines, I’m sure he did just fine.

    Interesting to see Ebi on the new owners list. Wouldn’t have called that one.

  2. I think it’s perfectly fine for J-Lev to win something out of the deal.

    He seems to have actually improved 4FRNT’s foundations, by transferring his valuable know how. All the while not making it into something that it isn’t (which was my inital concern when he bought it). He even made sure he’s selling it to people who carry the same values as 4FRNT and will continue it’s legacy.

    He gave something and got something in return – a truly fair deal, where both parties mutually profit.

    Thanks J-Lev.

    • Yep, I’ve been really impressed (at least looking from the outside) by what J-Lev has done with 4FRNT. He’s kept the brand’s reputation intact while moving it to more efficient supply chain and distribution models, that that’s no minor feat IMO.

      Like a lot of people I’m bummed that I can’t buy skis “hand made in the white room” any more, but I also know enough to recognize that that was never a sustainable business model. Handmade “race room” skis realistically need to sell for more than that to be financially viable, and the quality of my 19-20 vintage Ravens and Renegades is plenty good IMO.

  3. A passionate skier sold an independent ski brand to other passionate skiers who will seemingly (from what I can tell) safeguard the companys legacy. Nuff said.

    I’m honestly excited to see how they do things and what they come up with the next few years. Cheers to those fellas , and good luck!

  4. Thanks everyone for the stoke! The entire team over the past few years feels really good about the success we’ve achieved for 4FRNT and setting it up for the long term. We really appreciate the support and understanding by skiers like @jeremy & @Bredey (comments above). I can tell you from experience that everyone that’s ever been involved in 4FRNT since 2002 has been in it for the right reasons and only on a mission to do whats best for the brand in the name of progressing our sport! #itsjustskiing

  5. I have been a 4FRNT skier for a while and have my whole family on them. I like the way they have simplified their line up and it seems that they have identified a core market with touring and all mountain alpine skiing. Plus they keep the cost of the ski reasonable by selling on line. I hope they keep that up and keep developing and refining their skis. If they wanted to add a 95-100 underfoot touring ski with camber that wouldn’t bum me out.

  6. It’s JLevs world and we’re all paying rent.
    Never owned 4FRNT skis, but own a pair of J Skis and i love everything about them, from the way they ski, to the graphics, and to being part of the J community. Keep making waves, J. You’re only making the industry better!

  7. While its always a little worrisome when one of your favourite brands changes ownership, all I can say is “Congrats!”. After a 15 year snowboarding detour, a pair of Line Blends (and eventually Sick Days) got me excited about skiing again… Then a pair of 4FRNT Raven’s when I first stepped off into the backcountry.

    Whatever JLev is doing, it’s probably good for skiing! Thanks!

  8. Congratulations to the parties involved. Seems like the industry will be better off from investment, focus, enthusiasm and experience on the 4F side, and it was probably hard for JLev to balance the two businesses out, so now he can come up with more great stuff. And we as skiers get more competition and more passion in the industry, which is also beneficial.

    The only downside of BTC sales is that it’s hard to get a pair outside of the US

    • Thanks for all the stoke Blister! You are correct in having faith in our direction. We are very excited about the opportunity to grow this brand in the RIGHT way. Qilimanjaro, our global reach is a major item on the new 4FRNT hitlist. New ownership and myself see that as some of the lowest hanging fruit in terms of growing the brand. Give the people what they want!
      -Sam

  9. Generally, there are two things that are almost guaranteed to happen when a company is sold.
    The first; There is a memo that goes out to all the employees and customers giving assurances that there will not be any changes. The second thing that is almost guaranteed to happen… LOTS of changes. I’m not trying to be the fly in the ointment here. As a former 4FRNT customer, I hope this changing of the guard will result in great things to come for the customers, employees, and investors.

    • Eric, I encourage you to follow the 4FRNT story with a close eye. I am confident we will prove you wrong. The new ownership is here to help me improve our business model by bringing their unique knowledge to the table. They respect the heritage of this brand and are 100% devoted to preserving it. They expect me to continue to drive the brand on its current trajectory and plan to support me with capital and business knowledge. With continued involvement of Eric Hjorleifson, who just resigned a 3 year contract with us, Thayne Rich, the rest of our athletes, our OG ski engineer Bob Boice, our factories, and so many more I truly believe that this brand has incredible opportunity here, all the while preserving our ‘By Skiers, For Skiers’ mentality that got us here in the first place.
      -Sam

  10. I’ve been a JLev fan since skiing the original Mothership back in the early 2000’s. I was working for Karhu skis as a sales rep and we adopted a version of that Mothership as the Karhu Jak. That MS was a revolutionary ski and it still holds up today as a very good ski. That my friends is the visionary thinking of JLev! Continued success to all involved in this deal.

    • Thanks for the encouraging words Allan. He’s done incredible work across the industry and that didn’t stop with 4FRNT. Stoked on everything he did for us the last 3 years and can’t wait to continue to grow the brand!
      -Sam

  11. Curious, there appeared to be many synergies between JSkis and 4FRNT, from shared marketing technologies and manufacturing, which undoubtedly resulted in cost efficiencies. Will the two companies continue this model? To the layperson, it would kinda seem wise even though the two brands are now theoretically competitors.

  12. Steve McD,
    Good observation and expectations. When I acquired 4frnt 3 yrs ago, I immediately applied all of the modern marketing strategy, direct to consumer sales strategy, and product development & MFG efficiencies that I had proven to work best in prior years running J skis. Now those lean and super productive systems are imbedded into the normal day to day operations at 4frnt while still maintaining as you’ve seen 4frnt’s unique brand positioning and original soul and DNA. There really weren’t much cost savings with both brands being owned by a single person so there isn’t anything lost moving to seperate owners. The reality is, two small brands even when combined still equal a pretty small volume in the world of real business haha #itsjustskiing

  13. Jason, thank you for your reply! As you mention, the independent ski companies only comprise a “small volume in the world of real business”; however, in my impression, they are collectively responsible for an oversized portion of the innovation and advancement in the industry. Indy brands like JSkis and 4FRNT truly have “soul and DNA” which I hope will be better appreciated and celebrated. BTW, the inference in the previous post was more to whether Indy brands could possible leverage some form of collaboration to better market their product and reduce costs while still maintaining independent design philosophies and cultures? PS I’m from NY so “Big Respect” for “J” and other Northeast based outfits!

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