Originally Posted by davluri
but I have to say this statement misses one point: a factory is about the brains of the people making the decisions about what the machines will do. and yes, some skis have a certain feel that transcends yearly fashion trends, and persists through their line. this is about their mind, not their factory.
Ummm, well OK, but this just seems to contradict the entire theme of your argument about not buying skis made by someone other than the designer.
First, let's posit that all material technology, from skis to arrowheads, first requires ideas about outcome, and then concrete behaviors using intermediate technologies (like a prepared flint core or a ski mold) to realize the outcomes. So all outcomes reflect both the concept and the supportive technologies to make that concept happen. This is basic tech studies 101, amply documented. We all agree, yes?
Second, you don't build your own lathes, you buy them from a company you respect, right? I gather that there are a finite, in fact very small, number of machines out there to do what ski designer brains seek. So the ski manufacturer will purchase the presses and molds from a company that just makes these. Just like it will purchase the resin and so on. To spec, certainly, but not made out in the back by the CEO's brother in law. Shipped in from a trusted subcontractor.
So let's imagine that I have a design that I want made at the same factory with the same machines that make another brand. Neversummer comes to mind, or Head or Fischer. And lets say that the same exact machines are used in the same computer-controlled way, or at least by the same experienced hands. (Obviously the machines will never be run in exactly the same way, etc., but it's a thought experiment.) So the difference between that other "house" brand and my borrow-the-intermediate technology brand will be attributable entirely to the difference between our designs, period. The machines do not contribute any variance; they're the same, a constant. (Unless I specify that I want a different level of QC to achieve a particular price point. But that's in my head, too. The machines, and the production engineers, can achieve various QC's up to some practical limit.)
Conclusion: This seems to be saying that it's perfectly reasonable not to have control over making your own skis, since the only variance between your product and the other guys' is the quality of your ideas. Put another way, 4FRNT's skis will be no better or worse in QC than Elan's, and will have no variance attributable to different machines or operators. The only difference will be the original idea, the design. Therefore, you may not like the design in the mind of the 4FRNT guy, but it's illogical to claim his skis are somehow inferior simply because they are made elsewhere.
OK, so what's wrong with this argument? Extra points if you can be civil.
I'd suggest attacking my premise about how the machines are run, first off. Although you could take off on different quality control, I guess. In my own experience, though, the real difference between indies who make their own skis and those who contract it out is temporal. For a few years after startup, indies suffer from garage ski syndrome. Not enough $$ to purchase comparable equipment, so hand-built presses and so on, usually bases from hell. Then after a while, if someone likes the design enough, or is ideological enough about indies, to suffer through the other issues, the difference between the production in the garage and at Head, say, gets to be less. It never goes away, obviously, which is why like 'em or hate 'em, indies that make their own have more variance - some would call it character - in build than those that contract out to specialists in making skis. Prolly the same with furniture or yo-yo's. But again, this seems to contradict your main argument. Made in-house products are not necessarily superior products. Products made by specialty factories to spec are not necessarily inferior products.
Suggest you go check out ON3P's initial thread on TGR, great running memoir with plenty of pics, really get a feel for how it is to start a ski company, funny stuff about how much resin they were using at first, so the skis weighed a ton. I've also talked with a guy back here who makes his own skis, sells a few to friends. There's a real political component sometimes, a belief that no matter how rough the outcome, it's worth it because its not part of the corporate merry-go-round. YMMV.