This winter was a good winter for skiers and snowboarders in these parts. It was an even better winter for Summit Ski Snowboard as the Framingham business was named SnowSports Retailer of the Year by SnowSports Industries America (SIA).
During its Snow Show in Denver, Colo., last month, SIA honored retailers and reps from around the United States and Canada with awards, acknowledging them for consistently making an impact in the snow sports industry and recognizing them for their contributions to the growth of the snow sports industry, their promotional and marketing techniques and success in their respective fields. Reps and retailers were nominated and selected by suppliers and reps in the snow sports industry.
All of the winning shops are now listed as “snow experts” in SIA’s Snow Expert database and can use the program’s marketing materials to signify their expertise to their customers. Founded in 1954 and based in McLean, Va., SIA is a not-for-profit, member-owned trade association. Membership totals around 900.
“We’re proud to receive this honor,” said Teddy Schiavoni, who owns Summit with his wife, Leah. “It’s something we couldn’t have won without our entire team here, and our customers. Without them, we couldn’t do what we do.”
Located at 686 Worcester Road (Rt. 9 east), Summit Ski Snowboard has been supplying products to the snow sports-inclined for 36 years. Schiavoni recently discussed the business with Daily News staff writer Bob Tremblay.
QUESTION: How did you come up with the name?
ANSWER: In 2002, I decided to expand my marketing reach beyond MetroWest. At the time the store was simply named The Ski Shop and that was too ambiguous, plus our snowboard sales were increasing and I wanted something to reflect that part of the business. So, after much doodling and working with mountain shapes, the name Summit Ski Snowboard was born.
Q: When was the business started?
A: The original Ski Shop opened in 1977 in the basement of a building at Rte. 9 and Temple Street. The former owner, Andy Dalbo, sold high-fashion Italian suits along with ski equipment. I bought that business in 1998, closed it and relocated it, opening the store a half mile east on Rte. 9 from its original location in the 1812 House, the oldest building on Rte. 9 in Framingham.
In February 2011 the business moved for the second time. We relocated one mile further east along Rte. 9 into the former Ski Market space, which was previously Lew Horton’s Deerskin Trading Post. In doing so, the business has more than tripled in square footage. Our service shop is more than four times larger now and both our exposure to Rte. 9 traffic and our available parking has become immeasurably greater. We are now able offer an unrivaled selection of skis, snowboards, apparel and service.
Q: Why did you buy this business?
A: Having been both a retailer and a sales rep in the ski industry, I saw an opportunity in MetroWest for a specialty ski and snowboard shop. There are many aspects of being a true, niche ski shop beyond just carrying the products and offering basic services. The population of MetroWest needed a shop like Summit and there were no other shops around specializing in ski/snowboard.
Q: What did you do before you bought this business?
A: In order to buy this business, I resigned a position as a sales representative of several major ski brands where I had covered all of New England as my territory. Prior to being a sales rep, I worked in a ski/snowboard shop in New Hampshire.
Q: Do you have other businesses or work in other businesses?
A: I do not own another business. Owning and operating Summit demands most of my attention. However, within the ski industry, I do partake in many marketing meetings and product development councils for major ski manufacturers. I am frequently brought in to assist ski companies with strategic planning for upcoming products years before they are brought to market.
Q: What does your company sell?
A: Summit is a specialty ski and snowboard shop. Featuring SkiMD, our tuning shop has been nationally recognized as one of the premier facilities in the country. We have prepared snowboards for U.S. Snowboard Team athletes and watched them medal in Olympic Games. Summit is a member of America’s Best Bootfitters, and most of our staff has attended Masterfit University, meaning they are capable of properly fitting, constructing custom insoles and customizing ski and snowboard boots.
We test and feature certain brands and products which can only be sold/serviced by specialty retailers. Our product offerings are premier without being overpriced. We work very hard to discover the best value products within our industry. We learn these products and translate the features and benefits to our customers in a way that ensures value to them. Our mission is to provide the best equipment available and out-service our competitors global-mindedly.
Q: What makes you different from the competition?
A: Twenty-five years of nonstop experience in this industry has provided insight as to what skiers and snowboarders want. I am always willing to listen to my customers’ needs, as all are different, and to make adjustments to the business. Our store is convenient, has plenty of parking, and is bright, clean and fun place to shop in. Long relationships in the ski industry allow me opportunities and insights into trends long before they come to market. This enables me to forecast the best available products before they get to production. In turn, I am able to offer the best in technology and value to my customers.
Q: What about price?
A: We offer ski and snowboard equipment for every ability level. We can outfit a toddler with their first little leased ski package or we can provide top-level custom service to the most competitive racer on the slope. Our inventory consists of fashionable, functional, hard-to-find clothing and accessories for the style of the sport. Plus, we offer limited production gear to take into the back country of Alaska on a helicopter trip for those who live that life.
Q: What about sales?
A: Sales were weak in 2012 because there was no snow, but the first quarter of 2013 sales have been great.
Q: Any future plans?
A: Our plan is to stay the course and to increase our market share. We will expand our presence on the Web and continue to utilize social media to stay in touch with our customers.
Q: How many employees do you have?
A: We presently have 14 employees. My wife Leah is very actively involved in the business. Overall, we consider our employees to be more of an extended family. We do our best to involve the staff in concepts and ideas for enhancing the business.
The company’s website is www.SummitSkiandSnowboard.com.