Last month we noted in our Friday Made in America profile that RAMP Sports was looking to ramp up production of its various skis and other products by moving back to America. Now Mike Kilchenstein, CEO and founder of RAMP Sports, a 32 year industry veteran tells us why they made that decision.
KineticShift: We’re excited to hear that you’re moving operations back to the United States. So what were some of the factors that allowed this happen?
Mike Kilchenstein: We invented some new technical processes that allow us to make any shape or sidecut without having to make a new mold. This is a major development. We also are moving to a more modern vacuum molding process that is cleaner, more efficient and respects the natural shape-characteristics of the materials more vs press molding that forces them into unnatural shapes. To do this we needed control; of the entire process and the materials used.
KS: You’re looking at aerospace technology to develop the new skis, how did that come about?
MK: As I mentioned, this process lends itself to our new technical inventions.
KS: Do you see benefits for R&D and product testing by being close the mountains?
MK: To be able to try a new prototype out the door and then use our new capabilities is going to be huge in the creative process. And it’s more fun here.
KS: What about the sustainability of the materials you are using? Will these materials be recyclable so that at the end of the useful life of the product they don’t end up in a landfill?
MK: We are using the cleaned, highest performance and and most expensive materials in our products. For instance the FSC Certified Bamboo cores are 3 times the normal poplar wood cost and are 4 times as hard as poplar. They are harvested and manufactured using best practices which is very rare. And the hardness is adding a lot to the behavior on snow. The resin from Entropy is pine by product based vs petro chemical based, much cleaner. We are also recycling everything we use here. The ski scraps, wood scraps and sawdust are costing us 50 cents a punt to recycle but we are. We also ship people in a expensive padded bag vs a box which eliminates thousands of boxes and is useful. We donate to Native Energy for each snowboard and ski we sell enough to buy 300 pounds of carbon offset.
KS: Finally do you think this manufacturing process could be used with other products such as snowboards or skateboards?
MK: We plan to do snowboards this way next year and skateboards could for sure be done this way, no plans yet.
Thank you to Mike for talking with us.