What has been the result of this project for Smith?
We have created a community of like minded people who embody the Smith lifestyle. We are on the third season of the Prospecting Idaho web series and we had over 250k views last year. Those are people who are watching the video and getting a five minute dose of the Smith brand experience. No other brand has this type of facility at their disposal and the experience we give our team riders really stands out. People want to be a part of the project, we’ve had riders quit their other goggle sponsor so they can go up to the zone and ride, film and hang out. I’ve been going up there to film since the Robot Food days about 10 years ago. It’s such an ideal location and layout for jump building as the old mine tailings make perfect landings.
What has it allowed you to do that you couldn’t otherwise?
It focuses all the Smith visual collateral into one location that is 45 minutes from our office. We’re able to tell a brand story and focus it on one project instead of flying and traveling all over the world. We’ve been able to build something unique and close to home to acquire the assets we need.
How many guys are working there on average throughout the season?
Throughout the season we have six people on logistics who filter through—Pat Lee, Spencer Cordovano, Jeremy Black, Yancy Caldwell, Wyatt Caldwell and Taylor Carlton. Plus we have a group of filmers and photographers who are on staff all three months—Tal Roberts, Mark Oliver, Lane Power, and Mark Welsh. There are also two cat drivers—Chase Goulet and Corey Mc Donlad.
How many groups do you bring in?
We bring in all of our top snowboard and ski athletes, probably about 50-60 throughout the three months. We also did four employee cat trips this year to show the in-house support team what goes on up there. It was an eyeopening experience for a lot of them, they had no idea how involved the project is. Plus they got to ride some great powder at the same time as Scotty Lago was filming on a jump. Allowing them to see the entire process was a great experience for them. We also hosted four trips for the TWS Conference and managed to get great snow and showed the crew a good time..
You can’t charge and run a full on cat operation since it’s Forest Service land, correct?
Correct, it’s a private operation so you can’t book a cat trip with your friends, it all needs to go through Smith. The property is private, but you need to cross Forest Service land to get there. In order to make it a commercial operation there needs to be an environmental impact study as well as permit applications. Leasing it from the owners as a private facility bypasses these requirements allowing us to run a private cat opp. It’s totally up to the land owners whether or not they want to pursue a commercial operation, we have set up all the infrastructure and have proven that it’s feasible to run a cat opp there. Taking paying clients is a tempting proposition but there is a lot of BS you’d need to deal with, plus it would be hard to turn a profit with so much overhead.
What have been some of the highlights of the project over the last three years?
I think the highlights are the way the team rallies together to get the job done. The logistics crew is the spirit of the operation, I’m very proud of the crew we’ve assembled and the demeanor they have with guests is great. Watching it all come together has been a very rewarding highlight.