Brothers Tracey and Tim Canaday started building snowboards in their teens. They established Swift Snowboards with their friend Scott Rolfs in Fort Collins in 1983. However, snowboarding wasn’t mainstream yet back then, so they eventually shut down the business and relocated to California.
In 1985, snowboarding was officially recognized as a sport, and its popularity slowly grew. According to Tim, “We thought it was an opportunity that had potential, and having the little bit of experience with Swift made it more appetizing.” Hence, he and Tracey moved back to Colorado and launched Never Summer in 1991.
The brothers offered their snowboards to well-known shops, but most turned them away. Tracey says they had no money and no connections in the industry – the only way that they were going to be able to compete was with a premium product, and that’s how Never Summer has stood out from the crowd ever since.
“In the beginning, one of the avenues that we took was to make snowboards more durable than what existed on the market,” says Tim. Never Summer’s snowboards are all handcrafted and manufactured in its own factory in Denver, where the company transferred to in 1993. While outsourcing to a facility in China was a cheaper option, the brothers decided to keep their production process local so that they will always have full control over it.
Another factor in Never Summer’s success is what the Canadays describe as “clean distribution.” Never Summer snowboards and longboards, which were later added to the company’s product range, are only available in select shops. Tim says they really wanted to protect their dealers, even after they started to expand. This lets small businesses compete with big-box stores, which offer huge discounts after a particular date to get rid of any remaining inventory.
For the company’s more than 300 retailers, Never Summer is the best brand to work with. As one dealer said, “They have had the opportunity to grow out of shops like us, but they’ve chosen to stick with us.”