Caught Up: Endeavor Snowboards

Endeavor is a rider owned and operated snowboard and apparel company based out of Vancouver, Canada. Professional snowboarder Max Jenke started Endeavor the year that he found himself without a board sponsor, that was 2001. At the same time he was presented with an opportunity to make his own boards at a factory in Oregon. “The timing was right so I teamed up with some people I liked working with, and hit the ground running. said Jenke. Fast-forward to 2005 and they’ve been nominated for Young Entrepreneurs of the Year, and BC New Exporters of the Year by the Business Development Bank of Canada. The Endeavor boys are not slouching by any means, they are grinding. Oh, and they ditched the joint in Oregon and are now manufacturing at home in Vancouver, so as to keep it real--Evan LeFebvre

Evan: Why did you decide to make your decks entirely in Vancouver?

Max: The primary reasons we decided to move production to Vancouver was the quality and the proximity. The Vancouver factory makes the best snowboards in the world, and our crew has backed these boards for years. I can walk from our office in Gastown to the factory in fifteen minutes. It makes graphic approval, production updates, and problem solving way more efficient. Our three main territories are Japan, Canada, and the U.S. and so producing in Vancouver reduces the turnaround time for us to receive the product. When the boards are done we go pick them up--we don’t have to wait weeks to get them from overseas. Producing here also gives us the ability to test products at Whistler or at the local mountains the day the prototypes are finished.

What do you think about outsourcing to China?

We do most of the Endeavor apparel production in Asia; so working with the orient is something that we’re comfortable with. However, working with hard goods seems easy in principle but in reality it’s very difficult. Factories can use the same raw materials but each one has their own way of making the snowboards. The factory we use has a very unique production process that makes our boards the best riding in the world! As well, quality and warranty is another huge issue. Working with an overseas factory, it’s difficult to do damage control, especially working with one in Asia. If there are production issues, it can lead to disaster. We could make a lot more of a margin if we moved everything there, but at the end of the day it just wouldn’t be worth it. From a marketing standpoint, it’s huge that we’re produced in Vancouver. This is our backyard, and I think retailers consider being Canadian made a selling feature--we’re very proud of that.

You guys have sick New Era’s--how important are your collabo projects?

Collabo projects are really important to us--it’s important to align ourselves with only the most premium brands that have the same brand values and image. New Era is the industry standard for hats, and we were one of the first brands to work with them. Now that New Era is the standard in hats we’ve focused on using exclusive materials to make our hats unique. Nokia is another brand we’ve worked with, we love their products. Working with the Wu-Tang needs no explanation, and we’ve been boys with Drop since day one, so it was a natural fit when we wanted to develop a board bag.

Do you plan on branching out into any other product arenas?

Endeavor is a lifestyle snowboard company--anything is possible. Right now it’s premium snowboards and apparel. But like I said, the possibilities are endless--as long as you’re open to them and are clever enough to see opportunities.

What tunes are you bumping in the office?

Chris Martin our sales manager is the ultimate music head so we get a wide mix. Internet radio is definitely the future, we stream tunes from the BBC in UK, George in New Zealand, Big Up in Jamaica, and Virgin in UK. When we’re playing iTunes, its Kanye West, MIA remixes, The Killers and the list goes on--reggae, rocck, some drum and bass … and Ibiza house when Paavo’s in the office!