I generally try and stay our of threads like this, though they are good for a laugh from time to time, but if you are wondering about specific materials and I feel like it is something I can answer, happy to talk about it. Skiing is a pretty small industry and there are not very many suppliers around. Companies our size or smaller buy the same material from Crown, CDW, ISO, Haberkorn, etc., just like the big guys, they just buy a lot more of it. I can say with certainty (as I'm the one signing the checks) that indies are buying the same bases, sidewalls, tipspacer, edges, VDS, and tops that many of the big guys do. And BTW, none of it is ordered out of a catalog.
Honestly, the major plastic, rubber, and edge suppliers would never, ever be able to stay in business and manufacturing on the scale they do just selling to indies.
It would not surprise me if some of the bigger guys have their own personal tweaks made to their epoxy systems (as we've even been able to do that doing 0.01% the volume they do), but I've never heard of any ski manufacturer actually formulating and producing their own epoxy systems in house. Could be wrong there, but again, only a few suppliers out there doing ski/snowboard specific epoxies. Most of the indies, again, are using the same suppliers as the big guys, so not much different there. Indies aren't rocking the west systems special like it seemed a lot of the home builders have been doing the last few years. The company that supplies ON3P's epoxy system has been formulating them for 30+ years and has been available to me since I was building skis in my garage in college. Same stuff that companies like Mervin are using. So if I can get it building skis in my garage, I think most indies are doing fine there.
Composite are definitely a more open area of material supply and some of the big guys are definitely weaving their own material in house. No indie is doing that, but again, the indies aren't walking into Tap Plastic and walking out with a 50m roll of boat fiberglass. There are, again, a small number of suppliers doing snow sports specific composites that are ready available to all indies and produce composites that are no different in the quality that the big guys would be producing in house.
Core material really doesn't apply here are basically every manufacturer, big or small, sources and shapes their own cores these days so unless you are literally growing the material yourself (which I've seen discussed with bamboo), everyone pretty much does it the same way with their chosen material. The material & equipment used to do so might very, but the difference between a laminated, shaped, profiled core in our factory is no different than the ones in any large factory - they are just able to do it faster and on a much larger scale.
I might be forgetting some things, but whatever, I think you get the point. I don't even know where I would be able to buy a kit with everything I would need to make skis these days. Man, it would certainly make my job a lot fucking easier as dealing with the same suppliers that the big guys at our size can be a pain at times. But it is what it is.
I figure I should say this to - there are indies who suck at building skis. Absolutely suck. But, in all honesty, there are major manufacturers that do a pretty shitty job too. I can respect that they do manufacturing on a scale I will never, ever be able to truly appreciate. What Atomic & Elan and a few of the other guys do is pretty awesome. They made good skis and do a lot of them. Nonetheless, I have no qualms in saying that I can (and often do) walk into any ski shop and pick out 10 pairs of skis with minor blems in them that would never leave my factory, or Praxis, or Wagner, or some of the other indies who actually know how to build a pair of skis and have the time and purpose to do it as a craft.
I think that is what separates the top indie builders from the major manufactures and it is just a product of the scale at which they manufacture. Atomic builds the same number of skis per week as we will in a year (probably more) and does a great job doing it. The indies that are good at what they do aren't as focused on volume as they are in finish quality, and I feel it is pretty easy to see that when comparing the top few indie made skis and the big guys. And that is fine. Honestly. Not everyone is looking for a ski that is built and finished like we build our skis, or Keither his, or Pete his, and so on. I am happy their are great large companies like Atomic & K2 with people that know their shit and care about skiing, because skiing is better because of it.
I just think it is a bit shortsighted to instantly write off all indies as inferior for whatever reason you have (and of which I am not aware of). If you have had a bad experience with certain ones, then I think you are completely right to believe that manufacturer builds shitty skis. But ON3P builds our own skis, with our own equipment, with our own process, and with our own people. Same goes for every indie (who builds their own product). I just don't see how indie-brand X building skis somewhere in Colorado has anything to do with what I am doing in the factory I designed and run in Portland, or Praxis, or Moment, or Wagner, or Folsom, or HG, or Slant, or 4fnt's whiteroom, or Igneous, or Bluehouse, or PMgear, or the bigger guys like Mervin, or Never Summer (Icelantic, Fatypus, RMU, High Society), and so on.
Like I said above, there are indies who frankly can't make a good pair of skis, which could because of a thousand different reasons. Honestly, sometimes I think that about some of the big guys who I consistantly see blem after blem after blem after blem on the walls at ski shops (looking at you Rossi). Regardless, there are a lot of indies out there now and there are some that are pretty good at what they do. It's unfortunate that you've had whatever poor experience you've had with indies, but I don't think it is unreasonable to suggest you maybe try and judge them more on a case by case basis, instead of just suggesting that each and every one, regardless of their story, process, or the product they build (or that someone builds for them), is inferior to that of the major manufactures, unless you have of course skied and judged them all yourself.
There are huge differences in the feel and finish of what ON3P builds compared to what DPS builds, or Moment builds, or Never Summer builds, or what Atomic, Elan, K2, etc. build. That is sort of the great thing about being a skier these days - you have an endless assortment of skis available to chose from. Just because the skis made by an indie don't suit you doesn't mean they won't work for someone else. I am sure most indies have countless storys of people who absolutely cannot stand the skis made by the major manufactures. And that is ok, it doesn't mean the big guys make bad skis, just that they don't suit that particular person.
If you fall into that category, where you just don't like indie built skis and dynastar or rossi is the ski for you, that's awesome that you have a ski that you truly enjoy; I just think it is funny that your subjective opinion on skis would then be manipulated into a broad statement that all indies build inferior skis unless you are either a ski engineer, build skis for a living, have skied all the different skis in the world, or are somehow the collective representation of every single skier on the planet. If any of those are true, then keep rocking out, but until then, I don't see how you can legitimately make sweeping judgements about the inferiority of every indie. If you have specific companies you have skied and disliked, than by all means let them have it, but there are some indies who actually build a good product and are doing some truly awesome stuff, so I personally think you are missing out to write them off entirely.
Originally Posted by beyond
Dave you're overreacting again. Here's Skilogik's page that mentions being handcrafted at their Colorado production facility. http://www.skilogik.com/about-us.php But hey, maybe it's all a conspiracy and they're secretly made in China.
Never said that 3M supplied Volkl's epoxy. Did say that I'm dubious that they make their own from scratch. So you get the distinction? Plenty of euro subcontracters and suppliers out there. And if you're going to call b.s. on people you sure better have your own proof ready to go. I see nothing, nada, to back up your venting. Tell you what: I just emailed Volkl. Want to bet whatever cred you think you have on what they'll say?
For clarification here, Ski Logik is made on Hainan Island in the South China Sea. They have always been made in China and have always been pretty upfront about it. I couldn't find on that page where it says they are handcrafted in a Colorado facility. Am I just missing it? They are, without question, built in China. Mazz moved his whole family over there to run the operation, so cool thing about it is that the factory truly is his own. Different than some indies that just pay the mega factories to build their product.