SP debuts with a new logo, team, and image.
European-brand Snow Pro Bindings, long known for its race and carving plate bindings, has launched SP, a new brand with a ‘core freestyle image. The company is combining its rich history in factory-based technology with a sleeker, more modern image in hopes of gaining some ground in today’s image-oriented market, both in Europe and the U.S.
“We didn’t want to cut the roots, especially in Europe,” says Marketing Assistant Bernhard Raninger of the new brand’s relation to Snow Pro. “The company already has a good reputation for quality and delivery here; we just needed a clean and neutral basis for the new brand to start from.”
Raninger admits that Snow Pro’s image in the U.S., where the market is even more image-driven, is less than desirable for a company trying to make an impression on the strap-binding scene. Thus the brand and logo for SP was born designed to compete with the best of the marketing-oriented brands. “SP will allow the company to take advantage of both worlds,” says Raninger. “We can build a niche in the ‘core shops that are so important in legitimating the brand’s image, and we’ll also market Snow Pro to the larger chains without worrying about tarnishing that image.”
With one of the more happenin’ booths at this winter’s ISPO Trade Show in Munich, Germany, SP definitely shows signs of blowing up in the next retail year. In fact, the sleek bindings and its ultramodern booth had people wondering where the Snow Pro booth was when they were standing in the middle of it. But Raninger explained that the clean looks of both the bindings and the trade-show booth were a tie to Snow Pro’s rich factory history: “We didn’t want to imitate this fake punk-rock style that everybody’s using,” says Raninger, alluding to the Volcom-esque, intentionally bright and tacky sheik style of many booths at the trade show. “We wanted to stay clean and smooth in acknowledgment of our factory past.”
Founded by Thomas Krenn in 1987, Snow Pro made its name in snowboarding throughout the 90s by producing solid, technical plate bindings from a factory in Birgel, Germany, where soft bindings were also produced under the name Rage starting in 1993. As racing’s popularity began to dwindle, and hardbooters became fewer and farther between, so the brand began to put more resources into its soft-binding and step-in systems. In 1998, Snow Pro debued its FAST soft-step-in system and began making soft boots and bindings under the Snow Pro brand name.
Both the German factory and a newer facility opened in 1996 near Budapest, Slovakia are outfitted with state-of-the-art machinery that Krenn funded in part with profits gained from auto-part production. “Producing parts for car companies like Volvo allows us more freedom with our binding production,” says Krenn. “This way we don’t have to be too worried about a bad winter affecting binding sales and hurting us financially.” The Snow Pro factory also works in cooperation with the German Plastic University in scientific projects for developing new molding and injection technology.
Snow Pro now has offices in Vienna, Austria separate from the factories for marketing, sales, and design. “Having offices for design away from the factory is great because it makes production marketing-driven rather than factory-driven,” says Krenn, adding that it’s all too easy to put factory needs before marketing when design and production are under one roof.
As of 2001, the factories are busier than ever producing its own bindings, as well as those of Original Equipment Manufacturing customers such as Allian, Type A, Atlantis, and Palmer. SP’s young and energetic staff, including 22-year-old Raninger in marketing, and ex-pro-rider Tommy Kiel Johansen in charge of product development, is ready to make its mark on the snowboard industry.¿Jennifer M. Sherowski