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  1. #51
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    Oct 2014
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    I think this is going to be a rough transition.

    JLev was the ideal person for the job. Knows industry. Knows cadence. Built successful ski companies. Also, one person. Can only have one CEO.

    Now three hobbyists have taken over. From what I can tell, none of them know anything about ski design. "Raving" about a particular pair of skis is a pretty good indicator of that, which was one of the reasons one guy wanted to buy the company.

    None of them have experience running a company of their own. Being senior or a "product manager" at a startup is wildly different than owning your own company. If you are telling yourself, or others, you're qualified to run a company for any reasons besides having done it already you are out of your depth.

    Having a "Wall street" background means literally nothing and is irrelevant background for the ski industry. None of these guys were "heavily" involved in the Rossi turn-around -- they're each in their late 20s or early 30s. The Rossi deal occurred in 2008 aka 12 years ago. That means, if they're in their early 30s, the person "heavily" involved was 22? 23? Do you think a 23 year old was "heavily" involved in turning Rossi around?

    I hope this means great things for 4frnt but I am not holding my breadth. Running a company is a lot harder than "oh yeah, I think I want to own a ski company." I also don't get the feeling any of them are quitting their day job, which is a massive red flag. You can't be half-in on this shit.
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  2. #52
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    Apr 2007
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    1,524
    As someone who has recently run the investor gauntlet and lost his own life savings in the process in the action sport industry ó I can concur with what margotron is getting at.

    Money is cheap. Itís not about finding the investors with enough money. Itís about finding the right investors.

    Hopefully this is them.

    Updating the EHP is not going to grow a company. But itís a start.

    Maybe reintroducing sales reps back into the business model would be a wise idea.

    Hint. Hint.

  3. #53
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    Dec 2005
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    2,040
    Quote Originally Posted by margotron View Post
    I think this is going to be a rough transition.

    JLev was the ideal person for the job. Knows industry. Knows cadence. Built successful ski companies. Also, one person. Can only have one CEO.

    Now three hobbyists have taken over. From what I can tell, none of them know anything about ski design. "Raving" about a particular pair of skis is a pretty good indicator of that, which was one of the reasons one guy wanted to buy the company.

    None of them have experience running a company of their own. Being senior or a "product manager" at a startup is wildly different than owning your own company. If you are telling yourself, or others, you're qualified to run a company for any reasons besides having done it already you are out of your depth.

    Having a "Wall street" background means literally nothing and is irrelevant background for the ski industry. None of these guys were "heavily" involved in the Rossi turn-around -- they're each in their late 20s or early 30s. The Rossi deal occurred in 2008 aka 12 years ago. That means, if they're in their early 30s, the person "heavily" involved was 22? 23? Do you think a 23 year old was "heavily" involved in turning Rossi around?

    I hope this means great things for 4frnt but I am not holding my breadth. Running a company is a lot harder than "oh yeah, I think I want to own a ski company." I also don't get the feeling any of them are quitting their day job, which is a massive red flag. You can't be half-in on this shit.
    Thank you for that, I was trying to find any reference to the guy they claim was involved in the Rossi deal. Couldn't even find a Linkedin account (not that i dug that hard).
    what's orange and looks good on hippies?
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  4. #54
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    Oct 2018
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    165
    Quote Originally Posted by waxman View Post
    Thank you for that, I was trying to find any reference to the guy they claim was involved in the Rossi deal. Couldn't even find a Linkedin account (not that i dug that hard).
    Unfortunately, I speak finance bullshit so I can help you speculate on Ebi's background if you want. It sounded to me like he was the junior level banker working on the Rossignol deal for the buyer group based on the blister podcast (I think it was a merchant banking arm of Macquarie). This is not a background that will have given him any information on how to functionally operate a business like 4FRNT or Rossignol. It will, however, mean he ought to know the sort of financial problems such a business could develop if mismanaged. Honestly his experience running a tractor supply company is more directly relevant in some sense.

    If you read between the lines, I think the reason the ownership group was so so focused on keeping JLev's junior manager guy in place (was his name Sam?) is that they know they aren't good at the day to day management decisions the brand needs to make.

    My $0.02 - It sounds a lot like they bought 4FRNT because they love skiing and have business backgrounds. Whatever good things JLev did for the brand, he has not been able to invest much cash into it as far as I can tell, hence some odd pricing decisions (buy one, get one) and production fowl ups. On a purely personal level, I think the "best" outcome for 4FRNT or any other ski manufacturing company is a modestly profitable, stable business that can survive the test of time. As long as this ownership group keeps Hoji's line with the brand and doesn't go mass market on us I think they have a good shot at achieving that success case.

  5. #55
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    Dec 2003
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    Yep, my read is that their strategy is as follows:
    1. Keep existing management/construction.
    2. Use modern Direct2Consumer practices and digital engagement tools to grow brand -- see Casper mattresses etc.
    3. Enjoy their cottage ski company

  6. #56
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    Dec 2008
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    944
    I wonder why Hoji sticks by this company. I don't know the ski industry so mostly talking out of my ass, but couldn't he just take his design skills and following, start a ski brand that makes 3-5 models, get those skis made overseas and probably make more than whatever 4frnt is paying him?

  7. #57
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    Oct 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by kathleenturneroverdrive View Post
    I wonder why Hoji sticks by this company. He could just take his design skills and following, start a ski brand that makes 3-5 models and probably make way more than whatever 4frnt is paying him.

    beacuse he would be running a business then, and skiing less?


  8. #58
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    Dec 2008
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    944
    Well yeah. There's that undeniably shitty part.

  9. #59
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    Oct 2018
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    165
    Quote Originally Posted by kathleenturneroverdrive View Post
    I wonder why Hoji sticks by this company. I don't know the ski industry so mostly talking out of my ass, but couldn't he just take his design skills and following, start a ski brand that makes 3-5 models, get those skis made overseas and probably make more than whatever 4frnt is paying him?
    Being a great professional skier, or even a great ski designer, does not necessarily mean Hoji would be good at managing a brand. Kye Shapes has not, so far as I can tell, taken over the world if you want a very recent example.

    I strongly suspect that Hoji's income maximizing path would be a deeper pocketed sponsor given that is what most comparably famous riders have actually done. I don't know enough to tell you what money Hoji's leaving on the table. To the extent he has stayed with 4FRNT I infer that he values actually designing his pro-models more than the cash.

    You could also look at it as Hoji thinking the Bent Chetler sucks enough Atomic literally can't pay him enough to use one...

  10. #60
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    Mar 2008
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    northern BC
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    cashing cheques written by the people who put his name on the ski strikes me as much easier than being a businessman , he also gets money from Dynafit so he gets paid to be Hoji skiing not Hoji building skis but who can say what his deals are ?
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  11. #61
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    Dec 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by DumbIdeasOnly View Post
    Unfortunately, I speak finance bullshit so I can help you speculate on Ebi's background if you want. It

    My $0.02 - It sounds a lot like they bought 4FRNT because they love skiing and have business backgrounds. Whatever good things JLev did for the brand, he has not been able to invest much cash into it as far as I can tell, hence some odd pricing decisions (buy one, get one) and production fowl ups. On a purely personal level, I think the "best" outcome for 4FRNT or any other ski manufacturing company is a modestly profitable, stable business that can survive the test of time. As long as this ownership group keeps Hoji's line with the brand and doesn't go mass market on us I think they have a good shot at achieving that success case.
    When I worked for the redheaded step child of the Rossi group while the various Quiksilver/MacQuarrie/Management buyouts and corporate salvation were going on I said a few (a lot) of times do "we" want to be a money losing billion dollar company or a profitable quarter million dollar company?
    Of course I also said if they wanted to make more money make better stuff (and bring back the Pivot 15 at EVERY meeting ever).
    Probably one of the reasons I don't work for them anymore. Oh. well it was a fun 17 years.
    what's orange and looks good on hippies?
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    If I had a dollar for every time capitalism was blamed for problems caused by the government I'd be a rich fat film maker in a baseball hat.

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  12. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by kathleenturneroverdrive View Post
    I wonder why Hoji sticks by this company. I don't know the ski industry so mostly talking out of my ass, but couldn't he just take his design skills and following, start a ski brand that makes 3-5 models, get those skis made overseas and probably make more than whatever 4frnt is paying him?
    How do you make a small fortune building skis?

    Start with a large one.
    I remember a bottomless freedom...

  13. #63
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    Feb 2009
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    133
    Obviously it is critical to keep Hoji. And from what I know of him from afar - and once bumping into him in the line for his own show! - he's 1) very low key and 2) an engineer at heart... so a company and people who give him a lot of creative license is as (or more) important than the straight $$$. I don't think his life would change much with say +$1M in his bank account.

    4frnt's challenge will be further innovating while not f-ing up a pretty unique and well-regarded ski line up.... the hoji line, msp's, devastator and inthayne. Which I think means innovating into those lines, since I doubt they have the financial cushion to completely whiff on a new line. Hence, the EHP should be some 90%+ pre-ordered special run as a nod to fans and the hoji history, and maybe bring in some new folks intrigued by the hoji lore!

  14. #64
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    Jun 2004
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    Pemberton, BC
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    1,685

    4frnt sold, again

    ...
    Last edited by xyz; 10-13-2020 at 12:30 AM.

  15. #65
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    Oct 2017
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    21
    Quote Originally Posted by waxloaf View Post
    Havenít skied the EHP but agree that the light weight of the current hoji/ren is what has kept me away. Have you all thought about splitting Hojiís line into touring & resort? Would love to try a ren at ~2200g in a 184 and ~2350 for the 191.
    I get what you are saying. Typically we associate light skis with lack of stability and control, but I ensure you Hoji has cut the weight in a way that preserves the downhill performance of the ski. It doesn't make sense in terms of production for us to split skis and roll the dice on who wants a lighter version and who wants a heavier version. Hoji is not willing to sacrifice downhill performance and that's the bottom line, we aren't going to make a lighter ski that doesn't charge like a bat out of hell!

  16. #66
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    Oct 2017
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    21
    Quote Originally Posted by The Artist Formerly Known as Leavenworth Skier View Post
    I liked the tree/mountain photograph topsheets (last gen?)
    We got something cooking for ya....

  17. #67
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    Oct 2017
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    21
    Quote Originally Posted by margotron View Post
    I think this is going to be a rough transition.

    JLev was the ideal person for the job. Knows industry. Knows cadence. Built successful ski companies. Also, one person. Can only have one CEO.....
    Im going to go ahead and step in here and clear this up. First of all, the new owners are fairly hands off. They are helping 4FRNT with capital and business knowledge to elevate the brand and continue along our trajectory of growth in our new DTC business model. Each of these dudes has a very specialized skill set that uniquely applies to bettering the brand and are simply offering this knowledge to me to help grow 4FRNT. The past 3 years we have had to operate on a fairly "safe" day to day operation, as J was providing capital for TWO ski brands. This makes growth and product development very difficult. Nothing is changing in terms of how the business has been run. Also it is important to note that Jason is staying on as a consultant to continue to educate me and share his advice/knowledge of the ski industry. I am actually super stoked on the new ownership as it will enable us to dive into some of the ideas and projects that Jason and I have been dreaming of since 2018. Thanks for the concern, but rest assured there are BIG things cooking over here and i will continue to bust my ass to better 4FRNT everyday.
    -Sam

  18. #68
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Posts
    270
    Quote Originally Posted by 4FRNT_Skis View Post
    I get what you are saying. Typically we associate light skis with lack of stability and control, but I ensure you Hoji has cut the weight in a way that preserves the downhill performance of the ski. It doesn't make sense in terms of production for us to split skis and roll the dice on who wants a lighter version and who wants a heavier version. Hoji is not willing to sacrifice downhill performance and that's the bottom line, we aren't going to make a lighter ski that doesn't charge like a bat out of hell!
    Appreciate the response and get why you all wouldnít want to split the line. I am, however, pretty skeptical of any claims that a 2000g ski can charge like a 2300g ski - itís certainly not consistent with my personal experience. I know Hoji can charge on them, but not many folks can ski like he does.

    In any event, thanks for engaging here and hope you consider putting some more heavyweights back in the line up at some point.


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  19. #69
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    417
    Some more thoughts on what made the EHP unique:
    1) it was so straight. 40m radius
    2) it had a much larger flat area underfoot than any of the current reverse camber offerings from 4FRNT (Ren, Hoji, Raven, Dev)
    3) it had that bullet shaped tip
    4) it was heavy. More than 2300gm in the 186cm
    5) it had great damping

    Having owned the Ren, Dev, Raven, and EHP, as well as 4+ other reverse/flat camber skis over the past 15 years, Iíd say the EHP was the best resort pow ski of the bunch. Itís not surfy per se. Heavy and not very rockered meant that it often traveled below the snow surface when there was more than 6 in of new snow. But it was a god damn torpedo there, still traveling fast with that bullet nose and straight shape. It was also a pivot machine, so easy to wiggle through tight spaces when needed. And it handled resort pow leftovers better than the OG 186 Ren or the OG 184 Dev.

  20. #70
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    133
    ^^^ this. EHP is quite different from the current hoji line up, and I love them all. Iím guessing itís most similar to the dev (which Iíve never skied) in terms of weight and more flat vs full RC like current hoji line - but 2x the radius (!) and totally different nose. Somehow itís just a highly versatile resort ski - pow, junk, tight trees, moguls. Just no super hard snow without any bumps to check off of!

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