"RIGHT NOW, IT WOULD BE REASONABLE TO SAY that I'm the world's smallest manufacturer of skis and snowboards, says Sandy Martin, owner of Lincoln Canoe and Kayak in Freeport, Maine. "I don't have the capacity or the technology that the big companies have.
True. Martin's small manufacturing facility—where he turns fiberglass, resin, Kevlar, and wood into skis and snowboards—shares space with his canoe and kayak production line. But Martin offers something the big guys can't: the chance to shake hands with the man who built your sticks. His three-model ski line consists of a pair of all-mountain profiles and a slalom ski, each equipped with a rubber vibration-damping system that lies atop a wooden core. "These things chatter a lot less on ice, says Martin, who assembles the skis with a homemade press built from wood, steel, and car jacks. "If you can't make these hold, you can't make any ski hold.
Martin grew up in Vermont, where his parents built the Tucker Hill Lodge at Mad River Glen. At 65, he doesn't ski as much or as hard as he used to, but he still gets on the mountain to test product and coach disabled skiers through the Maine Handicapped Skiing program.
Martin expects to sell about 50 pairs this season and about half as many fiberglass-and-Kevlar snowboards, which, he's proud to point out, weigh a mere six pounds (for the 162-centimeter).He concedes that he could make more product and, if he advertised, sell more too. But as a small manufacturer in a region where riders are notoriously hard on their equipment, he's learned a valuable lesson: "I'm never going to make more product than I can afford to replace. That's just asking for trouble.
Born: November 17, 1940
Vitals: 65, 5'6
Hometown: Windham, Maine
First turns: Tucker Hill, Vermont
Inspired by: A sign hanging on his shop wall that reads, "Predicting rain doesn't work. Building arks does.