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Tom Johnson: Marketing Manager, K2 Snowboarding – Snowboarding’s 30 Under 30

Marketing Manager, K2 Snowboarding

Tommy Johnson, aptly dubbed by his friends simply as Tommy J, is an old soul east coaster that prides himself on the heritage that is associated with being a New Englander. He's worked damn hard to get where he is, taken advantage of every opportunity placed in front of him, and wholeheartedly appreciates everyone who has helped him along the way, and quite simply, he's the type of guy that is perfect for the snowboard industry at this very moment in time. Growing up in New Hampshire and switching from skiing to snowboarding at a young age, Tommy J came up through the east coast sales rep scene, bounced around from gig to gig for a bit and finally landed smack dab on the front door of K2 Snowboards, where he was hired on as the Marketing Manager in May of this year. Tommy now oversees all marketing aspects for the brand and he's set to make some serious moves in the coming months and years, and the choices he makes in the near future will surely affect snowboarding for years to come, and I personally couldn't be happier to write that. Well done, Tommy. You earned it, man. But you know that already. And you appreciate it. That's what makes you a significantly awesome dude.

—T. Bird

What does your current position in the snowboarding industry entail? Describe a typical day on the job. 

I'm still getting settled, so I don't know if I've found out what a "typical" day looks like yet but the best part of my position here at K2 is that the role is a bit nebulous. In this position I get to work with the engineers on the product side, the design team on the graphics and aesthetic side, the sales team to make sure we're hitting trends and getting quality product to market, and work with our team riders to get product feedback, drive innovation, create content, and make sure we're helping push snowboarding in a good direction.

 Where are you from and where do you currently call home?

I'm originally from southern New Hampshire but I currently live and work in beautiful Seattle, Washington.

How did you start snowboarding?

I started snowboarding the way that most New Englanders do I think, because I wasn't into skiing. Skiing is such a tradition in the Northeast and I was super fortunate to grow up skiing with my parents. Around age 8 I really discovered skateboarding, and that made my switch to snowboarding a no-brainer. I believe that I made my first turns at Nashoba Valley, which was about 30 minutes from my folks' house.

Crailsliding his way into snowboarding history books. PHOTO: Marco Malley

At what point did you realize that you wanted to work in the snowboard industry?

I think the tipping point for me was spending seemingly endless hours at Eastern Boarder, both on and off the clock. Through the shop I developed relationships with sales representatives for skateboarding's and snowboarding's top brands, met tons of pro riders, and learned how to help a customer through conversation. It was never about pushing product, it was about getting people into the gear that was right for them. In those years I made friendships with customers and shop rats that are still intact today.

I owe pretty much everything to Eastern Boarder. Earl, Fiske, Marty, Herb, Spike, Bub, Pat, Spada, Mac, Colin, Steve, Tabor, I owe all of you the world…and a couple drinks.

And how did you make that happen?

Apologies in advance on the length. Brian Fiske and Earl Verrier took me under their wing at Eastern Boarder in 2006. I worked at the shop (and hung out way too much, sorry guys) until the summer of 2011. From there I started working under Paul Danchak and his sales agency, Ubiquity, in the northeast. I got to meet some incredible people, work with some amazing brands, and spend my days with top-tier retailers. We worked ourselves to the bone because we wanted to. I loved every single minute of it. I can't thank Paul and his wife Jackie enough for giving me guidance and freedom and making me feel like family. Love you, Danchak family. After departing from Ubiquity in the end of 2014 and moving to the Northwest, I landed at a role at We Are Camp (parent company for High Cascade Snowboard Camp and Windells Camp) where I oversaw Social Media and Digital Content for both brands. I then transitioned into a Marketing Director position, overseeing all aspects of snowboarding, skateboarding, and BMX marketing for both brands. There is really nothing more rewarding after all of that hard work than seeing 150+ young snowboarders and skateboarders having the time of their lives. I came on board at K2 in late May of 2017 and it's super humbling to work in a building with such a talented group of people. I've always been a huge fan of what K2 has done as a brand and think that Hunter Waldron and the team here has done such an incredible job helping to evolve the brand in an ever-changing marketplace. From the approachable aesthetic, the quality of product, the ability to help drive traffic to retail, and to bring unique shapes to the market, I think K2 has done an incredible job and I couldn't be more excited to come to work every day.

Who did you look up to in the industry for inspiration? 

I feel so honored to say that the people I've looked up to most over the last ten years are my friends. Inspiration and stoke overlap pretty heavily for me and the list is more than extensive, so I won't go too deep. I'll give a special shout out to Earl Verrier, Paul Danchak, Matt Jagemann, Mark Wakeling, Rob Pontes, Preston Strout, and Tanner McCarty. On a personal level, I've always loved what the guys at Deluxe have done for skateboarding and love what Pontus Alv has done with Poler. Those brands create quality content, drive demand at retail, and pay homage to the past while always looking forward. Again, there are way too many retailers, people, and brands to mention, but we're surrounded by inspiring things in the "action sports" world.

Skating since he was a young gun. PHOTO: Marco Malley

What do you feel has been your biggest impact in your line of work?

It goes without saying that the winter sports business is susceptible to ups and downs due to weather-related issues, but I do think that the largest impact on marketing has been social media. This has changed the way that customers get their information, take in their content, and interact with brands. Social media is no longer just photos on a screen. It's part of a cohesive plan, it's customer service, and it's an arm out to an engaged audience.

 What do you want to accomplish that you haven't yet?

This is a crazy one. I'm not fully sure how to answer this. I can just say that I'm very excited to work with such a talented group of people here at K2 and can't wait to see what we can do with this brand in the years to come. The in-house team is so talented, and the list of team riders and athletes are some of the best in the game.

 Anyone you'd like to thank?

There are too many people to thank, so I will send out a couple of blanket, "Thank Yous."

Thank you to everyone that has ever purchased a skateboard, snowboard, or surfboard from your local shop.

Thank you to every retailer that has supported this industry and stuck to your guns.

Thank you if we've shared a lap together on the hill or a couple of scratches when skating.

Thank you to everyone that's given me a chance and believed in me enough to give me these incredible opportunities.

 

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