Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Industry: Lifestyle & Consumer
Growing up in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, with Wolf Creek Ski Area a short drive away, it's no surprise that Caler and Yerton spent a lot of time on the slopes. "We grew up loving snowboards our whole life," says Caler.
After finishing school, the two realized they wanted something more out of life than a typical 9-to-5 job. "We always wanted to do our own thing," says Caler. "We never wanted to work for the man."
Caler was working as a salesman for Surefoot Custom Ski Boots when Yerton approached him about making snowboards. "Once he brought the idea to me, it was like, 'I have a background in selling, you have a background in engineering -- let's put two and two together.' I think this is going to be a lifelong process, kinda like our passion project." Caler says.
So the two formed DOWP (which rhymes with slope) and got to work. "David figured everything out from scratch," Caler says. "That whole first year was trial and error." All of DOWP's snowboards are made by hand in their shop in Pagosa Springs. Durability was a key goal. "Growing up in Wolf Creek, it's a nice mountain. You have to hike and drop cliffs to get your entertainment," Caler says. "We were breaking boards all the time so we wanted to build something that didn't break."
DOWP snowboards might be handmade but they cost about the same as their mass-produced competitors. "We could charge more but we want to stay competitive," Caler says. "We want to show people that we're a better product for the same price as our competitor."
For materials, they settled on a bamboo core for its strength and flexibility and because it is lightweight, and added Kevlar and tri-axled fiberglass. The result is a strong, lightweight and flexible board that comes in three different styles: the Big Mountain, the All Mountain and the Park. Each style has a custom graphic conceived by Caler and Yerton and designed by Caler's brother. "Each graphic tells a story," Caler says. "We didn't want to make snowboards and do what everyone else does. We wanted to do everything different."
Case in point: Most snowboards on the market are all smooth curves and lines; DOWP boards have a square nose and tail. "It creates more surface area on the back and front end so when you're landing a jump or riding a rail, there's no washout point," Caler explains. "On a rounded snowboard if you land a little off center you'll wash out because there's not that square edge to catch you." That's not just theory, he adds. "We've been testing to the max and we definitely like it. It's working. We call it stompability."
The square edges are not only functional, they are also eye-catching. "It's the purple cow effect," says Caler. "You see cows every day but you don't stop and say, 'Oh, wow, a cow!' But if you saw a purple cow, you'd pull over and look at it. People see snowboards every day and they don't really go up to them, but they see a square snowboard and they're like, 'Wait a minute here. What's this?'"
Challenges: Time. Both Caler and Yerton have full time jobs in addition to DOWP. "We're putting all of our own money into this so we have to work full-time," Caler says.
Opportunities: While DOWP snowboards are currently sold in stores, Caler wants to move to a direct-to-consumer model. "We're thinking straight-to-consumer is going to be our biggest opportunity because you're going to cut all those costs, you're going to make more money," Caler says.
Needs: Capital. "We could always use more money," Caler says. "We don't want to get into debt and pull money from banks or do loans."