ON3P, the idea, is born. I'm a sophomore in college and have been disappointed by a recently received pair of custom ski. For some reason, I decide I can build skis better. From the start, ON3P was all about building a better ski. Not starting a ski company, not being the cool new brand - just building a better ski for my friends and myself. To get the ball rolling, I start up a private cult (forum) on newschoolers.com and use it to crowd source ski designs with likeminded skiers. ON3P starts to pick up steam, and suddenly things seem to be happening.
Time to commit. Step 1? Build a ski press. Having never built anything substantial before, I order several thousand lbs of steel and painstakingly drill each 1/2" hole. I vow to learn to weld in the future, because that sucked. After several months of planning, drilling, and banging on the press with a mallet, it's comes together. Everything fits and I breathe a sigh of relief. Now it's on to skis.
By now, ON3P has become more than just a garage project for myself and a few friends. Over 40 people are interested in pairs. I have been slowly gathering all the materials and tools needed to produce a small run of skis. Slow going in college, especially when you have a cat that raids your skibuilding fund not once, but twice. In that time, I've built a small ski factory in my garage. The first skis start trickling through and they ski better than they should. Excitement builds. Finally, I graduate. Several friends and myself spend the next 2 months building 53 pairs of skis. It's hard work. That theme will remain a constant for years to come.
ON3P moves to Portland, Oregon. The economy is in the middle of the recession. Funding for new businesses is scarce. Feedback from the first 53 pairs is in and positive. After months of patience, the wheels begin to turn. By June, ON3P is officially incorporate. On August 1st, we move into our first factory space. For the next eight months, we get our asses kicked. Building skis in your garage and building skis for a living are two entirely different animals. We build out our 2400 sf factory as best we can, weld 2 brand new ski presses, and proceed to build several hundred pairs with constant hiccups along the way. We literally move into the factory. My cats live in the office. We learn a lot, but the price is high. Skis are late. Sleep is nonexistent.
Winter 2010 hits. It's obviously the first factory layout is hugely outdated, as many processes have changed in our first year. The factory is also a mess. Only one thing to do - tear it all out and rebuild it from scratch, this time with an actual understanding of how materials flow through our manufacturing space.
Materials finally flowed from station to station. The base room, band + jig saw, and layup all gain their own dedicated sections. Space is tight, but we're able to run through 2 production cycles in this space, building 2x our previous year's volume every season.
Business as usual. Another year of long hours at the factory. ON3P is able to run a production cycle with only a minor factory remodel for the first time, though that proves to be short lived. We also rebrand and enter retail for the first time. Finally, after 2.5 years at our current factory, it's time to expand. We find a new space in NE Portland, jumping from 2400 to 8400 sf. The annual cycle of factory builds and remodels continues, as with scaling comes more issues.
Time to hussle. We move into our new factory 8 weeks before we plan on attending SIA for the first time. We plan on building out the factory in parts, starting with the dedicated rooms to contain dust and debris - the Wood Room (core processing), the Dirty Room (flash removal), and Base Camp (base/edge prep).
As with the first factory, ON3P will build out the entire factory space ourselves.
Time for another factory remodel. This time we enclosed Layup & the Metal Room, and completely redesigned and constructed a new production line for Deflash, Finishing, and Hand Finishing. Our entire production process becomes instantly cleaner and our skis now have a designated spot at every step of the process.
Finally, we bring CNC work in house. Prototype time goes from days to hours. Mistakes can be fixed on the spot. We continue to tweak and improve our factory, grow our retailer network, and refine our production process.
The factory is dialed. With the addition of our flame treater, we've now brought almost our entire production process in-house. Materials flow from the Wood Room & Metal Room, into Base Camp & Layup, through the Dirty Room, Deflash, Finishing, and Hand Finishing, then on to Inventory & Shipping. We're building more skis each week than we did in our entire first summer. As of today, ON3P has dealers in 10 countries and is growing fast. Who builds your skis?