With its red-rock canyons and mile-long trains inching across the desert, Gallup, New Mexico is an unlikely spot to build snowboards. But since following his girlfriend who has a job in local health care, Custom Craft's Marty Bonacci has found several benefits to building fully customized big-mountain boards deep in the desert.
“The humidity is close to zero almost all the time, with no fluctuation between day and night,” says Bonacci. Originally from New Hampshire, in the past he built boards for Globe and Kingpin.
After starting his own business making boards for friends, Bonacci now builds around 150 boards a year customized to individual rider preferences.
Other than his base grinder, Bonacci builds all his own manufacturing equipment, and is constantly looking for new innovations.
“I don't build boards with topsheets. With no graphics, a topsheet becomes unnecessary weight and extra materials,” he says, mentioning the design debt he owes to Never Summer. But instead of using P-tex side walls, Bonacci is perfecting his technique of preforming fiberglass to bend around the cap while eliminating the air bubbles that have hampered similar approaches by other builders.
“There's no point in me doing what other manufacturers already offer,” he says, “because I can only ever be as good as they are. Instead, custom board building is about always coming up with something different.”
Bonacci is now working on speeding up delivery on orders from fourteen days to just 24 hours, which will not only help improve sales but also save him costs for stocking materials.
“My relationship with my customers is different from the usual manufacturer relationship,” Bonacci says. “I sell boards to retailers for 344 dollars (less on an order of four identical boards) and 488 dollars to a private end user. If a retailer orders a board, they have to take the money up front from the customer because for a small business like mine, building a board on spec is too much risk.”
While the margin for the retailer may be smaller, they never have to pay anything out of their pockets for warehouse inventory.
Custom Craft's main retail customer is Kind Boards in Montana but Bonacci is hoping to find more retailers to take over the burden of sales.
Models available include not only big-mountain boards, but swallow tails and split boards with full-wrap edges on both sides.–Matthew Kreitman