Tahoe City ski company kickstarts business plan | SierraSun.com

Tahoe City ski company kickstarts business plan

Josh Bennett shows off some of his favorite ski designs, many of which were created by local artists, on Monday, June 5.
Justin Scacco |

A few years ago, ski maker Josh Bennett came to a crossroads with his company, Slant Skis.

At the time Bennett had been working two jobs — while still finding time to grow one of the area’s few ski-making businesses — but after being laid off from one of those positions, he had to decide whether to go all-in on Slant Skis.

“I was like, ‘Well you’ve got to go for it. I’m just going after the skis now. I have no other choice,’” Bennett said.

“It might not work, but if you don’t try, it definitely won’t work.”

Since then, Bennett has devoted his time to making more and more skis each year, streamlining his process and growing the company to the point where he was able to hire an employee.

Inside his small workshop in Tahoe City, he controls nearly every aspect of the ski-making process from choosing the type of wood to printing and applying graphics.

During the past year, he said he’s had his hands on each of the roughly 200 pairs of skis that went through Slant Skis’ workshop.

“There’s ups and downs like any business, especially the first couple of years just doing two jobs while I was trying to build skis,” he said.

“Now, it’s balancing having enough time, saving enough money during the season so I can order the materials for next year, and then physically building the skis is always a challenge.”

According to Bennett, it takes between 8 and 12 hours to finish a set of skis.

Bennett began Slant Skis out of his garage in Truckee in 2007. At that time, he said he wasn’t satisfied with the craftsmanship of skis on the market.

“I wasn’t really happy with the quality of the skis. I was always a really aggressive skier growing up and buying skis was always a big purchase for me every year,” he said. “I’d save up all summer to buy a pair of skis and often I’d break them, and usually companies wouldn’t warranty them … also I wanted to try different things that other companies weren’t offering.

“It was a slow, long process to get to finally build a pair of skis. But I knew what I wanted to do.”

Bennett said that first set of skis he made were usable, but far from ideal. Since then he’s tweaked his process, modified some of his 30-year-old machinery to accommodate wider skis, and come up with more efficient methods of churning out a finished product.

In order to further grow Slant Skis, Bennett recently launched a kickstarter campaign with a goal to raise $20,000 for newer equipment and a larger space for work.

With more efficient ski making equipment, Bennett said he will be able to continue to grow the company by around a 100 pairs of skis per year until he’s making around a 1,000 a year.

Rewards for donating to the fundraiser range from small items like stickers and T-shirts up to the top prizes for pledging, which cost $2,400 for the opportunity to build custom skis with the crew at Slant Skis.

“It’s very satisfying to build a pair of skis and have them be beautiful and finished in your hands,” Bennett said. “To be able to go skiing on a pair of skis that you built is awesome.”

To donate to Slant Skis’ kickstarter campaign visit kickstarter.com/projects/slantskis/slant-skis-made-in-the-usa.

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