Family-run operation moves from NYC back to its Green Mountain roots.
Somewhere in the South Central mountains of Vermont, nestled along scenic Route 100 between Okemo and Stratton Mountain resort, lies the quiet town of Londonderry. The town, with snowbording claim-to-fame Olympic Bronze Medalist Ross Powers, is now home to a new group of rock stars: Hayes Brothers Snowboards. Hayes Brothers recently decided to add more of a personable approach to their production line by moving from the labyrinth of New York City back to its roots in the Green Mountains of Vermont.
Brothers Steve and Mike Hayes started Hayes Brothers four seasons ago and have sold out of product every year since. The company is divided into five parts: Steve Hayes owns 80 percent, and his two brothers and each parent own five percent. Hayes is no stranger to the snowboarding industry. He was a member of the original Burton team in 1984 and won the U.S. Open in 1985.
While in NYC, Hayes Brothers worked as an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) customer. Even though Hayes personally crafted almost every board, he still wanted his own manufacturing facility near his home in Vermont. After finding the prime location, he then bought the manufacturing equipment from his previous business partner. On October 1, 2000, Hayes’ vision became a reality when Hayes Brothers moved into its new Vermont home. Now, instead of a stuffy, tight-squeezed basement, they suddenly have all the space they need, and then some.
The new factory can produce 60 boards a day with a machine that presses four boards at a time. Making the process even more unique, all of Hayes Brothers’ employees are a part of the “family” in one way or another¿from the secretary Michelle, who happens to be Hayes’ girlfriend, to the production line entirely made up of teamriders like Hobie Chittenden and Raschid Joyce.
“This is the key ingredient to producing our top-of-the-line snowboards,” says Steve. “It creates more of a family/friend atmosphere instead of the feeling of a large corporation. Everybody likes to come to work, and they all take their jobs very seriously.” However, Steve does have one rule¿no employee is ever to be older than him (currently age 32).
As you walk into the production room from the front-office area, you’ll probably notice a large black-and-white photo of a baby who appears to be flying a plane. The baby’s name is C.J., and he is Hayes’ godson and nephew. “He looks like he’s flying a big ship,” says Hayes. “And that’s exactly what this place is¿a big ship.” So he keeps it hanging in the production room to remind everyone how important they are in keeping the Hayes Brothers ship flying.
Hayes Brothers’ snowboards are created 98 percent by hand¿from hand sanding the cores of poplar and birch wood, to hand silk-screening graphics. And Hayes personally inspects everything to ensure absolute perfection. Although most of the work is done by hand, the company does have the help of a few state-of-the-art devices to facilitate the delicate and precise job of making a Hayes Brothers snowboard.
Hayes Brothers has only been in business four years, but it continues to climb the industry ladder while many young companies go the other way … down. The Hayes crew is doing it with no-holds-barred and having fun along the way.
On January 18, Hayes Brothers threw a raging open-house party at none other than the local Stratton night-spot, The Foggy Goggle (formerly the infamous Haig’s). The musical guest of honor was the original Beastie Boys DJ¿DJ Hurricane. While Hurricane busted some beats, Hayes busted out the moves. After dancing, alcohol intake, and unsuccessful pick-up lines, a raffle was held to make somebody the proud new owner of a Hayes Brothers snowboard.
With teamrider Ted Rauh competing on the Vans Triple Crown tour and increasing product sales every year, Hayes Brothers is definitely making its mark in the industryy. So keep your eyes peeled, and if you’re ever in the Stratton area, spin over to the factory showroom to pick on Hayes, or just pick up a board.¿Chip Allen