Give us a brief description of your manufacturing processes and philosophy.
We design and manufacture skis in Canada. With our production facility in Rimouski, Quebec, and a sweet development lab coming soon to the Kootenays, we have every ingredient needed to compete with Asia and Europe in creating sustainable toys to enjoy around North America’s unbelievable playground.
How many employees and/or contractors do you work with?
I work with Utopie, which has 25 employees and J Skis, which has between 5-10 from the East. I’m looking forward to finding new partners and talents in the region.
What brought you to the Kootenays and how long have you been here?
We moved to Fernie in 2017 after years of procrastinating and travelling two to three times a year to enjoy the Western Canadian mountains. We came out west for the mountains. We bike and ski so where else are we supposed to live? And now it is time to bring in some of the equipment left behind and set up something special in the Kootenays so we can continue to progress the sports related to sliding on snow.
Tell us about the history and relative work experience of your founder(s).
I made my first skis in Quebec in the 1990s and learned enough on my own to score a Job at Track Sport (Karhu Skis) in Cowansville, Quebec, which had just acquired Line skis from Jason Levingthal. I designed and engineered every model of Line skis from 1999 to 2007 with Jason. We experienced the exodus of North American manufacturing to China through K2 sport after they purchased Line skis and Karhu brands in 2005 and eventually we left the corporate world of public companies trying to milk our industry so we could help G3 move their production from Tunisia to China. We learned that China manufacturing was not the best way to make a future for our next generations. After a few errant years away from the heat of manufacturing skis for others, I met this crazy young dreamer from Rimouski, Quebec: Jean-Francois Bouchard. He was unbelievable in making snowboards with no equipment in a lost region of the province. We made a deal that he would inherit all my machines to kickstart Utopie MFG. A few years later, I convinced Jason that if he wanted to start his own brand again, I was going to come out of retirement and give him three years of my design services in exchange for a small part of his company and with that we were ready to make them in Canada again. Jskis was born. Fast-forward eight years and Jskis is thriving and employs some of the most fun kids I’ve ever hung out with. Utopie Mfg makes tons of skis and employs over 25 people and I keep on enjoying arguing with my old friend Jason about the future of skiing. Fun times.
Describe the mission, vision, goals, and aspirations of your company.
To keep on going until we can’t ski anymore.