Build Skis, Not Bombs: Romp Skis Lands Contract with US Army Special Forces

romp_embed

Caleb and Morgan Weinberg [photo] Trent Bona

Crested Butte, Colorado’s Romp Skis—owned and operated by brothers Morgan and Caleb Weinberg—is founded on the understanding that the customer has creative freedom. Romp designs and produces custom boards with a direct-to-consumer model. This method has attracted a growing following over the past few seasons in large part due to Romp’s adaptability to a client’s particular needs. So, when Uncle Sam came a calling, Romp jumped on the opportunity to take on a military contract for the 10th Special Forces Group of the US Army.

We caught up with Caleb to talk about Romp and what their Army contract means for the company’s future. Here is what he ad to say.

Backcountry Magazine: What initiated the army contract?

Caleb Weinberg: The whole thing started because we can do custom graphics. About four years ago, five retired Special Forces 10th group guys (not to be confused with the 10th Mountain Division) decided they wanted to do a commemorative graphic for 10th group; they had a graphic designer make a special top sheet. Then we designed skis for each individual with all the skis carrying the same graphic. The following winter, a bunch of their friends—some of whom are retired 10th group guys and some who are active duty—saw the skis. The original five told us that anyone who is a member of the special forces is welcome to use their graphic, so a bunch of guys started buying custom skis with this same graphic on it. One of them turned out to be the guy in charge of ordering new skis for the 10th group. They went to four or five ski manufacturers asking for skis to test. We were included in this test.

In designing a ski for [the military], I put the same emphasis as I would when designing a ski for an individual. I gathered as much information as I could on what they would be doing with the skis, and the use is pretty specialized—they are big guys that ski with 75-pound packs. So, we made a ski fitting the parameters of what they’d be going out to do, and we were given the contract.

BCM: What are the specifications for these military skis?

CW: They are 165cm and 175cm in length, 106cm under foot, and they’ve got a side-cut in the low twenties [meters]. They have a little bit of rocker in the tip, and a low, slightly rockered tail without any twintip. They also include stainless steel grommets in the tip and tail, so it’s easy to latch them together to build a rescue sled.

BCM: Do you see this contract continuing past the end of this year?

CW: There is talk, and we are in the preliminary stages of working out that contract. They need quite a few more skis than this initial order, so they are on a staggered program for the next few years. We are in the contracting process for the rest [of the order] now.

BCM: Will your production focus be predominantly for the military order, or will you try to strike a balance with that and your typical consumer demand?

CW: We are definitely balancing both. On this aspect, the army has been easy to work with and understanding of the fact that this is our busy season. They have adjusted their delivery dates for us and they understand that we can’t shut down the rest of our business for them.

Custom graphic designed by ex-Special Forces members for recreational use

Custom graphic designed by ex-Special Forces members for recreational use [graphic] Romp Skis

BCM: Is it correct that the only place that you can find Romp skis is either online or at the factory in Crested Butte?

CW: Yes, we sell everything direct-to-consumer.

BCM: Did your direct-to-consumer model develop organically or intentionally?

CW: Well, it was intentional due to necessity. Our factory is in downtown Crested Butte, but real estate is super expensive, and we are in a small space. Due to the size of our factory, it made sense to go direct-to-consumer. We don’t have the production capabilities and we don’t want to outsource. Having our hands on every pair of skis leaving our factory is what allows us to ensure quality.

BCM: And it’s just you and your brother Morgan currently?

CW: No, we have one full-time employee and three part-time employees. Due to the army order we needed some extra hands, and that’s been a goal of ours: to be able to employ local people and to have people be able to make a living wage in Crested Butte.

BCM: Along with your custom-designed skis, do you have several stock models?

CW: Our business is custom skis, but we found that there was a need, mostly around the holidays, for people to be able to walk in and buy something. Typically, we’re six to 10 weeks out when you order skis, so we’re not going to be able to help someone that comes in today and expects the skis to be ready for Christmas. So, we started stocking a size run of each one of our shapes to have around, so if someone wants something immediately we can fill that need.

BCM: Anything else exciting in the works for the upcoming season?

CW: We are continuing to refine our lightweight backcountry stuff. These army skis are actually full carbon. We are prototyping ultralight skimo skis this fall, and working with a local race team to design them.

To learn more about Romp skis, visit rompskis.com and buy the November Issue of Backcountry Magazine to learn more about the Weinberg brothers. 

Comments

  1. Brad Aimone says:

    I am one of the retired 10th Special Forces guys that found Romp through one of my retired buddies. We ski hard in SF and I now live in Bend, OR so I can support my passion – ski hard, play hard. It is a mere 24 miles from my driveway to Mt. Bachelor. My Romps are unbelievable. Working with Caleb and Morgan to design my skis was marvelous. These skis rock! I love short radius turns and while some would say my Romps are a tad heavy, I skin uphill so I can really make my skis earn their turns in off piste tough terrain so I’ll take the added weight anytime! I’m planning on ordering another pair but I love my current pair so much it feels like I’m cheating on them when I drool over Romp’s new line up.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Romp Skis Lands Contract with US Army Special Forces. This week, Backcountry Magazine published an interview with owners of Crested Butte’s local ski manufacturing company, Romp. Caleb and Morgan Weinberg, brothers and owner-operators of Romp Skis discuss how they landed a contract with the 10th Special Forces Group of the US Army, what the specifications are for the military skis are and what it means for their business now and in the future. Romp follows a direct-to-consumer model and gives the customer creative freedom in the design of their skis. Caleb explains that this is one reason why the contract was initiated. “About four years ago, five retired Special Forces 10th group guys (not to be confused with the 10th Mountain Division) decided they wanted to do a commemorative graphic for 10th group; they had a graphic designer make a special top sheet. Then we designed skis for each individual with all the skis carrying the same graphic. The following winter, a bunch of their friends—some of whom are retired 10th group guys and some who are active duty—saw the skis. The original five told us that anyone who is a member of the special forces is welcome to use their graphic, so a bunch of guys started buying custom skis with this same graphic on it. One of them turned out to be the guy in charge of ordering new skis for the 10th group. They went to four or five ski manufacturers asking for skis to test. We were included in this test.” […]

  2. […] Romp Skis Lands Contract with US Army Special Forces. This week, Backcountry Magazine published an interview with owners of Crested Butte’s local ski manufacturing company, Romp. Caleb and Morgan Weinberg, brothers and owner-operators of Romp Skis discuss how they landed a contract with the 10th Special Forces Group of the US Army, what the specifications are for the military skis are and what it means for their business now and in the future. Romp follows a direct-to-consumer model and gives the customer creative freedom in the design of their skis. Caleb explains that this is one reason why the contract was initiated: About four years ago, five retired Special Forces 10th group guys (not to be confused with the 10th Mountain Division) decided they wanted to do a commemorative graphic for 10th group; they had a graphic designer make a special top sheet. Then we designed skis for each individual with all the skis carrying the same graphic. The following winter, a bunch of their friends—some of whom are retired 10th group guys and some who are active duty—saw the skis. The original five told us that anyone who is a member of the special forces is welcome to use their graphic, so a bunch of guys started buying custom skis with this same graphic on it. One of them turned out to be the guy in charge of ordering new skis for the 10th group. They went to four or five ski manufacturers asking for skis to test. We were included in this test. […]

Speak Your Mind

*

css.php