Homegrown Meier Skis headed to Denver
One of the success stories in the outdoors industry that grew out of a garage shop in Glenwood Springs in the aftermath of the 2008 recession is pulling up stakes and relocating to Denver.
Ted Eynon, co-owner of Meier Skis along with founder Matt Cudmore, said the decision to relocate has been in the works for more than a year.
“As you well know, the Roaring Fork Valley is a pretty expensive place to live and do business,” Eynon said. “That does make it challenging to find options as far as factory space, plus distribution costs and keeping up with the salary requirements of workers.”
Eynon said they did explore options in the area to relocate from their production shop and showroom in the Valley View Business Center on Highway 82 near Cattle Creek.
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But, ultimately, they decided the Denver area would provide the resources they needed to continue to compete with the large ski manufacturers, he said.
“It is a natural progression for any small manufacturing business, especially when you’re trying to grow and compete with the global manufacturers who make the majority of their product in China or Eastern Europe,” Eynon said.
Meier Skis was started by Cudmore and his wife, Rosanna, in 2009 when he and some friends began crafting handmade skis from Colorado trees, including beetle-kill pine, in a makeshift garage shop near downtown Glenwood.
The name, Meier, comes from Rosanna’s German maiden name, Meier-Grolman.
The skis gained a following locally when Cudmore arranged with Sunlight Mountain Resort and the Sunlight Ski and Bike Shop to be the exclusive retailer for their product. The popularity of the skis also quickly grew across the Mountain West through an aggressive online marketing presence.
In 2012, Cudmore partnered with Eynon, a successful entrepreneur and ski enthusiast from the Front Range. The business also moved to its Highway 82 location where it eventually expanded to include snowboards and longboard style skateboards among their products.
The Cudmores relocated last year to their home state of Idaho to be closer to family. He continues to oversee research and development and product design and direction for the company.
As the business continued to grow, however, Eynon explained that the move to a larger population center became necessary for a variety of reasons.
“Denver gives us better access to a larger workforce and more options for partnered resources,” he said. “We also want to grow our immersive brand experience, so that people can really see the product we are producing.”
He and Cudmore have also had a vision to include a small-batch brewery and tap room as part of the business, which was more realistic in a larger area as well, Eynon said.
“Glenwood is where we were born, and we have significant roots here,” he said. “So it will remain pretty important to us.”
He said the company employed about 10 people during peak production times, but many of those workers are on contract and don’t live in the area. Production manager Chris Dean is making the move to Denver to stay with the company, Eynon said.
Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, who is also the longtime general manager at Sunlight, said the loss of Meier Skis from the county is a setback on the economic development front.
But it’s not unexpected for a growing manufacturing business to leave the Roaring Fork Valley, he said.
“The costs are higher here than they are in Denver to run a business like that,” Jankovsky said. “It’s not something we have a lot of answers for. Our property taxes and housing costs are high, and we have a limited labor pool with a shrinking unemployment rate.”
Jankovsky said he looks forward to working with Meier at Sunlight Mountain, which has been a regular host for company ski demos and other promotional events.
“We’re also in discussions with them about being part of our 50th anniversary celebration next year,” Jankovsky said of the ski area’s upcoming milestone.
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Scott Ely founded Sunsense Solar 30 years and initially operated as a one-man crew. His focus was installing solar electric systems on backwoods cabins off the grid. Now the company’s work includes some of the biggest solar farms in the region.