YWith 21 North American specialty retailers in tow, the Palmer factory staff showed off what it believes to be one of the biggest assets the brand has. Although the manufacturing staff is small and the factory has a production run of about 15,000 boards, the company prides itself with the unique and high-end technology it uses in its four lines of boards.
The factory tour in Mitterberghutten, Austria was the first stop of Palmer’s Retailer Summer Camp, in which the company has brought these top snowboard store owners, managers, or buyers to Europe to learn more about the brand.
“Very impressive,” was how Chris Smith, owner of Powder Pursuits in Steamboat Springs, Colorado described the factory. “Everything seemed fast, easy, and efficient. The workers seemed really good.”
The tour started with Production and Commercial Manager Fritz Stussi introducing the staff to the retailers. “Our workers our the most important thing in our production process,” he said to the group. “They define the quality of our product.”
After the introduction, the group split into two, and the tour started. The construction process was explained from the beginning starting with raw materials, going through to the final finishing area. The company outsources as much of the prep work as possible, including screening of bottoms, sublimation of tops, and woodcore milling.
The company uses pre-impregnated fiberglass materials and honeycomb that are cut out using a unique ultrasonic cutting machine. The materials are hand laid into a custom block mold press where they cook together for a short period of time. Then the boards are finished by a series of automated finishing machines. Because the workers don’t have to use liquid resins, the factory is extremely clean.
With the clean and efficient construction process, the company is well positioned building high-end snowboards, which range from cap-sandwich, 3-D topsheet Circle and Channel boards, and the super high-tech Honeycomb boards. These feature a center wood stringers with tip-to-tail honeycomb wrapped around the wood. The board weighs in almost 25 percent lighter than its other boards.
At each process, the group spent time talking to the workers and asking extensive questions about the construction techniques. Afterward, the group ate a quick lunch then headed off to a local castle. Of course, the beer flowed late into the evening, as the group of retailers spent a lot of time getting to know the Palmer staff a bit better.
Next stop for the summer tour is the Dainese apparel factory in Vicenza, Italy, then moves to a rare look at the Swatch factory in Biel, Switzerland. Continue to log on to Snowboarding Business for more information about the Palmer Summer Retailer tour across Europe.-John Stouffer.