Better Businesses, Outdoors

Better Businesses: RAMP Sports

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RAMP- An up and coming ski and snowboard company that not only loves hitting the mountain after a big storm, but loves the mountain itself just as much. These guys are reshaping the relationship between business and environment….and they’re succeeding. One of their punch lines, “Skis made by Skiers,” is used to present the fact that your skis are not only made by people who know what they’re doing, but their skis and boards are also made in the good ol’ US of A. This little company out of Park City, Utah takes the time to source and make skis and snowboards in an environmentally responsible way, like using full bamboo cores made of Forestry Stewardship-certified bamboo and clean pine sap-based adhesive.  Besides their commitment to use environmentally sound production and sourcing their materials locally, I asked Mike, the CEO of RAMP, a few other questions about their company, just so we could get to know them a little bit better.

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RAMP skis and boards are handmade in Park City, Utah
It is clear your company has a passion for the environment, where did this passion come from and how did you begin your journey of putting these practices into place?
It starts with us believing this is important for us to do.  Then we have an early investor and Board of Director, Gary Hirshberg who founded Stonyfield Farm, an Organic Food Company.  He built his brand around best practices and firmly believes if you use best practices in every aspect of your business ultimately it costs less and makes your brand much more attractive.  RAMP stands for Riders Artists Musicians Project, and to get this collaboration and support for what we are doing being green is critical.  The final thing to consider is it’s much better to build your company with this being part of the basic infrastructure, it’s much harder to add this later.
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The full bamboo cores are Forestry Stewardship-certified
Has been it been difficult to keep any of these practices/initiatives running? If so, what has kept you striving to keep them in place?
For us it’s hard as we go through the investment in building the brand and getting to profitability.  That being said, it’s part of the plan and a critical part of the plan.
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RAMP uses Super Sap, a pine byproduct-based resin that’s so clean, no one in the factory has to wear masks
You have transparent website, discussing many of your environmental initiatives. Is there anything else you’re doing on the side of environmental ethics that you haven’t displayed?
Actually we are doing a lot more with waste management.  We try in every way we can to eliminate throwing things away.  Our next preference is recycling.  Our preference is to reuse things.  For instance we have been generating a lot of scrap from trimming skis out of the molds.  We are going to have a local artist turn this into a large Big Foot Sculpture (we estimate 40’ tall).  Each year we want to create a new one like a Snowman, a???  We don’t like to recycle old skis and snowboards, we are making them into furniture and donating them to adaptive programs.  

RAMP seems like an awesome place to work. What are some of the highlights for working for RAMP (besides saving the planet, of course)?
We are doing what we love so the energy is great.  All our people are passionate skiers and riders so when they mold a ski or board or create the graphics, or do the finishing or print the graphics or get the sales everybody is really excited.

Environmental ethics seem like the focus of your company. Is there any focus on social ethics (i.e., how employees are treated, giving back to the community, anything regarding people)?
Most of our people have a stake in the Company through some stock, at least all the earlier employees.  We are also adding a bonus program this year for everybody based on staying within budget plan, hitting the sales plan and making the forecasted product.  When we cross the profitability threshold we will have a very strong profit sharing program.  We also pay our production people what I would consider a living wage vs minimum wage.

Are there any future plans for the company or initiatives you’re looking into?
We want to invest in a solar generating system and wind generating system.  We need to cross the profitability threshold first but we will.  In the meantime we buy wind generated power. Take a look at RAMP skis and boards over at RAMPsports.com.

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Wendy Ewing

Wendy Ewing is a Washignton native and Northern California transplant. Growing up at the base of the North Cascades, her entire upbringing revolved around the mountains. With her family, Wendy spent most of her childhood backpacking, mountaineering, skiing, and mountain biking. With a strong passion for wilderness ethics and personal growth and development, she decided to pursue building Wild Beginnings Adventure Co. Wendy has written gear reviews for Trek Tech, Innovation & Tech Today, and Active Junky. In the winter season you can find her back country skiing and both trail running and mountain biking the rest of the year. Wendy lives in Shasta Lake, CA with her husband, John, and their adventure retriever, Sauvie.