“Don’t worry, we’re just breaking stuff,” Moment Skis CEO Luke Jacobson says as an employee throws a cardboard box down, presumably full of skis. The snow ski factory, located less than a mile away from the Sparks Tribune, is buzzing with people making a fleet of new 2016-17 performance snow skis.
According to Jacobson, founder Casey Hakansson made his first pair of snow skis back in 2003 as a hobby. He was practicing masonry at the time while Luke Jacobson was studying mechanical engineering at University of Nevada, Reno. In 2006, Hakansson and Jacobson decided to make their brand public and attended the SnowSports Industries Americas tradeshow with digital photos of their nine or 10 models.
“We didn’t even have price lists before we got our first big order,” Jacobson says.
Jacobson and Hakansson worked on Moment Skis at their original factory in Reno before moving over to Sutro and then to Marietta. “This is where we live; it’s easier to access both sides of the lake and experience the mountains while getting city culture,” Jacobson says. “The industrial area [of Sparks] is a good spot to be because all of the manufacturing happens here. Everything is made within a 10-mile radius, I can easily find anything from bearings to drive belts.”
Now over 10 years later, Moment has 19 ski models with over 75 different skis in different sizes within that group of snow skis and expanded their factory to take up three decent-sized storage spaces. Moment also keeps a special reserve collection for heli skiers and advanced/expert snow sports enthusiasts.
“The first thing that people like is the tip shape and the graphics catch people’s eyes,” he added. Jacobson said that it’s beneficial to have skis made for skiers by skiers so they can physically tell what can be improved on. “We make them on the hill,” says Jacobson.
Moment Skis has gotten a lot of press over the years and was further highlighted when athlete Shannon Bahrke won the bronze in the 2010 Winter Olympics skiing on a pair of Moments. “We don’t sell skis to the public really, but it’s the perfect ski for the pro mogul athlete,” says Jacobson.
Aside from Olympians winning medals on Moment Skis, Jacobson says that their biggest marketer is snowfall. “Moment’s been doubling every year for the last six years, but then it didn’t snow.” He said that’s not just true for Lake Tahoe, but for their other markets around the world too, like Japan, Canada and Europe. Since a lot of Moment Skis are made pretty wide and people like to take them off-piste, it’s ideal to have a lot of snow coverage to slide on. “We need to be able to adapt to the conditions on where to push skis, but snow is our best marketing tool.”
Inconsistent winters over the years have prompted Moment to turn their focus back on online direct sales so that they can get more of a margin out of a pair of skis sold. Low snow seasons have caused retailers to close down, reflecting badly on the company’s financial statements. “We have a lot of bad debt from companies going out of business and not paying their bills,” Jacobson says. “Now we do short runs and go back make more,” he said of popular-selling ski models.
Jacobson emphasized that it’s bad for the industry by overproducing skis and then discounting them. “Skis are expensive, but not as bad as mountain bikes,” he says.
Check out the “Going Downhill” 2016-17 collection of Moment Skis on www.momentskis.com and get stoked for winter at the Sept. 23 premiere of the new Level 1 Productions movie “Pleasure”, hosted at the Moment Factory on 1060 Marietta Way. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the $5 entry fee goes to support the local non-profit The Holland Project.