Chris DiMarco entered the snowboard industry in a bit of an un-orthodox manner. Instead of the typical route, working his way up from shop kid to tech rep to sales representative, Chris entered the snowboard industry fresh out of UVM as a financial analyst for Burton Snowboards. Chris quickly blended his passion for snowboarding and his ability to analyze data and trends to understand what products the market and the snowboard customer need. A very short 4 years later and Chris is Burton's North American Hardgoods Sales Manager working with reps, retailers and Burton's global product team to ensure that Burton is making the right product and selling it in the right places. Chris’s passion for snowboarding is second to none and is truly contagious. If you have ever spent time "frothing" or "melting" with Chris, it will most likely be filed in your "one of the best times ever" bucket, but, also know Chris is listening to you and taking your feedback back to the "Maple Curtain" to continuously improve future Burton product. Congratulations DiMarky. — Mark Wakeling
Birthdate: July 28, 1990
Current title: Hardgoods Sales Manager
What does your current position in the snowboarding industry entail? Describe a typical day on the job.
If you read any of these articles last year, you will know that the answer is the same every time. There aren't really typical days in snowboarding. And honestly, I've learned there aren't too many typical jobs. My job can include any number of things like working with the product team on next season's board, bindings or boot line, sales reps on their day to day hustle, marketing on a go-to-market, account managers on back end order management, demand planning on the forecast being handed to our factories, finance on sales programs/margins/discounts, product creative on board graphics, design creative on dealer catalogs/elastic, showing buyers the new product line, giving shops a clinic, working a demo, tradeshows, events, etc. The part of my job I love the most is getting to work with so many different parts of the business. It really makes you appreciate how much people bust their butt to make snowboarding happen.
The closest thing to a normal office day would probably be:
- 8:30-9 am (roughly): arrive at office and get coffee. Avoid contact with anyone for at least half hour. I'm one of the worst morning people you will meet, and I don't want people to think I'm a dick.
- 9-10 am: Run reports to check in on how product is selling or what our inventory looks like. Then take care of any emails I need to and prep for the meeting I'm about to head to.
- 10 – 11am: This is the stock morning meeting time slot at Burton. Pretty much everyone has a 10am.
- 11am – noon: Mixture of phone calls with reps (usually Royal, Grasso, and Manning time slot), email and working on whatever project I have at that time.
- Noon -1pm: I go home for lunch (I live around the corner from the office).
- 1-3pm: More phone calls with West Coast reps (Coco, T-Bone and Rizzo time slot), emails, and project time.
- 3-4 pm: Another popular meeting time. Usually a weekly touch base with someone senior to you.
- 4-6pm: Sweet spot for a really long email from Fidler (Director of Product Management). Then it's cranking away on whatever needs to be done by EOD.
Note: Shift everything back a couple hours if I went snowboarding that morning ;)
Where are you from and where do you currently call home?
I am originally from Madison, Connecticut but have lived here in Burlington, Vermont since I came here for college 10 years ago. I've been here long enough to see myself become the Burlington townie of my college friends.
How did you start snowboarding?
I started snowboarding when I was about 8 or 9 years old. My Mom is a big skier who always did whatever she could to get us on the hill. After starting on skis at 5, I always thought the snowboarders were way cooler than the skiers. I remember we would go up to Bromley and you could look up from the main quad there and see the terrain park. Bromley didn't allow skiers in the halfpipe that was at the top of the park; you basically only saw snowboarders coming down. Watching snowboarders riding the park seemed like the coolest thing ever to me at the time. I knew that's what I wanted to do. When the time came for my Mom to buy my brother and I our first set ups, it was basically when I had to choose my path between skiing or snowboarding. My choices were either some chewed up used skis or a brand new World Industries board that had Wet Willy riding a warhead with grenades in his hands. Easiest/best decision I ever made.
At what point did you realize that you wanted to work in the snowboard industry?
I realized that I wanted to work in the snowboard industry about a month or two before I graduated college. I was at UVM about to graduate with a business degree focused in both finance and accounting. During my years at UVM, my goal was to be a finance guy working at an investment bank, hedge fund, private equity firm or something like that. Like any aspiring finance student, I thought I knew it all and had everything figured out. However, as graduation was approaching closer and closer, I had the realization that this maybe wasn't what I wanted to do. I didn't love my summer internship working at a financial institution. My classes also weren't getting me excited to calculate things like future value or weighted average cost of capital for 40 years. I stayed up way late one night thinking to myself I would never be successful, or happy, doing something I wasn't passionate about. I also wasn't ready to give up snowboarding 60+ days a year.
After a borderline mental breakdown in a career counselor's office, I got some of the best career advice I've ever gotten. She basically told me it was a little too late to do anything not related to finance or accounting, but the experience I did have was good enough to get me in the door somewhere. She had me pick 3 companies I admired and apply to all entry level finance/accounting positions. The thought was, use the experience I had to get hired, then once I had my foot in the door, I could progress somewhere in the company that interested me. Living in a town that has a pretty sizable snow industry presence, I had seen enough to know that was the direction I wanted to go.
And how did you make that happen?
The way I did it is definitely NOT something I would advise to anyone looking to start a career. Now that I think about it, I'm extremely lucky that it all worked out.
As I mentioned earlier, I was advised to pick 3 companies I admired. Being a snowboarder in Burlington, VT, Burton was an obvious choice. I checked the job boards every day for the last part of my spring semester waiting for something to pop up in the finance or accounting departments. A few days before my graduation I saw a job post that had "credit" in the title with the department listed as finance/accounting and no job description. I immediately filled out the form and attached my resume. Then I proceeded to go to some senior week party, forgetting the application ever happened. I had no cover letter, no reference, no job details, no follow up; pretty much everything they teach you not to do.
To my surprise, the very next morning I answered a call from Jim Bruce and they wanted to interview me that day (Friday). I was a little busy at another graduation related party when I answered. Being the naïve college kid I was, I asked to push the interview out to Monday. Again, definitely not something I would advise doing. Luckily for me, Jim is the man, and was cool with me pushing my interview out. I came in on Monday morning right after my graduation with no previous preparation or voice, but I interviewed well enough that they offered me the job a week or so after. My first job in credit where I pretty much cashed retailers' checks, did basic accounting, a little financial statement analysis and called dealers who hadn't paid their bill asking for money. At the time it seemed like a dream job because I could come in late if I snowboarded and drink beer at the end of the day. From there I moved into sales and financial reporting, then over to sales & product planning, and ultimately I landed in my job now as Sales Manager for the hardgoods category. If you told me 6 years ago this is where I would end up, I'm not sure I would believe you. It's a pretty great gig that teaches me something new every single day.
Who did you look up to in the industry for inspiration?
First off, it wouldn't be a 30 under 30 interview if Mark Wakeling wasn't mentioned. I was lucky enough to have called "The World's Biggest Grom" my boss for the past few seasons. Under Mark, I truly have learned how to balance the hard work, craziness, stress and fun required of you in the snowboard industry He's moving on from the sales world to oversee the anon. business unit. I will miss working with him every day for sure, but couldn't be more stoked for him. Also, I owe a big thank you to Doyle. He was my official "mentor" given to me when I started out at Burton. Doyle played a pivotal role giving me some insights on how to develop my career at Burton. What Doyle has done for snowboarding, Burton, and myself is tough to measure. His passion and love for his job has inspired me every time I have left his "office". I don't visit him as much as I should, but his words have always helped me out a ton. If you ever come to Burton to do a tour of Craig's Proto Facility, make sure TK takes you into Doyle's lab. Jim Bruce, who I mentioned earlier, is the person who saw something in me from the beginning. He has been an advocate for me from that first interview in 2012 until the day he left the company this spring. Like many at Burton, past and present, I've been a recipient of invaluable career advice and praise from Jim. If anybody in this industry has the opportunity to work for him, you should jump at the chance. As whole, all the Burton reps that I work with on the day to day are a major point of inspiration for me as well. Those guys and girls bust their butts harder than anyone I have ever had the pleasure of working worth. Their hard work is a big motivating factor for me to do my job the best I can so they are set up for success. And lastly, I can't forget Jake & Donna. It's really hard to say something about them that hasn't been said by somebody else before me. They continue to push Burton and snowboarding forward with an unmatched passion that wears off on anybody who gets the chance to meet them. They are a major inspiration to so many and I'm proud to work for them.
What do you feel has been your biggest impact in your line of work?
I've never really thought about what my impact has been. I guess in my role, it's pretty cool to see people psyched on their new product. Whether it's people on Dig My Quiver bragging about their new Family Tree Board they got at Darkside, or hearing how Step On has made snowboarding better for somebody, simply seeing someone pumped on snowboarding makes me feel good. At the end of the day, we sell and promote getting outside to ride your snowboard. If what I do lends a small hand in that happening, I'm hyped!
What do you want to accomplish that you haven’t yet?
These probably aren't realistic…
1. Go one year without f*cking something up.
2. Get a compliment from Downing on my snowboarding.
In all seriousness, I would like to continue developing both personally and professionally into a leadership role at a company I am proud to work for. That job is likely a ways out for me, but I plan on enjoying the journey of getting there as much as I can. So many people go through their lives at a miserable job. If you don't care about what you are doing every single day what's the point? If I can keep learning in whatever job I'm in, while loving the day to day, that's a win for me.
Anyone you’d like to thank?
Alright, I'm going to try to get everyone I can. If I missed you, blame Caf. He's the one who gave me the tight deadline on this.
I would definitely have to thank my parents and brother Dave for supporting me my entire life. I owe them more than I could every repay. All of the coworkers and friends from Burton who have played a role in my development like Billy J, Bob Elmergreen, Curtis Martin, Josh Fisher, Lesley Betts, Chris Fidler, Eric Carlson, John Stewart, Clarissa, Jags, T-Bone, Manning, Royal, John D, Hannah, GK, Downing, AA, Elysa, Beth, Coco, Hoff, Hendo, Cox, Levi, Darcalepsy, Glen, Grasso, Bistro, Billy, Nigro, Cara, Steph, Rizzo, Brad, Adam, Berardi, CC, Chad, Ian, Jordan, Chuck, Jeff, Yianni, Gaines, Lindsey, Liz, MC, Wibbs… shit, I could keep going for a long time. And of course friends like Zeekmaing, Graham, Ben, Cory, Dillon, JB, Forde, Colby, Evan, Tommy, Matty, samwa, Schwipp, Gas, DL, Sam Kelly, and everyone else who has made snowboarding what it is to me today.
Also, thank you Transworld for including me on this list of esteemed desk jockeys, cube monkeys and froth puppies. There are a lot of people who are doing great work in this industry, and it's pretty rad to be included alongside some of them. Next beer is on me…
Read more 30 Under 30 Interviews here.