"Everyone who skis a lot should make their own pair," says Andi from Munich and grins. The 30-year old is just fastening two screw clamps to the workbench in the small workshop in Farchant near Garmisch-Partenkirchen . There is a lot of hustling and bustling around the passionate skier: Epoxy is spread on parts, edges are shaped into form and skis are put in the kiln to set.
Axel Forelle agrees with his customer Andi: "Our aim is to convince every ski enthusiast to craft his or her own pair of skis." Founded in 2012, build2ride is the best place to do just that. The small company offers workshops where professionals guide customers through the process of ski building. "We also make personalised skis and in summer we construct individualised bicycles, but our core business is ski building workshops," Axel explains.
More and more
It all started when a large company inquired about branded skis for a promotional contest. At the time, Axel worked as a project manager for an event agency. He and his friends knew right away: "We can make a pair of skis on our own!" So they began taking apart a few pairs to find out what they look like inside. They experimented with different materials and created an excellent product. "We quickly realized that this could be a great team-building experience to offer to companies – so we tried and it worked!" Axel remembers. There were a lot of positive reactions and more and more friends and other people wanted to take part in the workshops. "And so we founded build2ride."
While winter sports freaks were the first to come and build their fifth or sixth pair of skis in Axel's workshop, regular skiing fans who decided they'd like to make their own pair soon followed suit. "build2ride is great for anyone who feels passionate about winter sports and is willing to spend a bit more money on their personally customised pair of skis. Our average customer is between 40 and 45 years old," Axel explains. The workshop participants are always a nicely mixed bunch. Lara is 17 and here in Farchant with her dad. They're both building their own snowboards. "We have about 20 per cent women and 20 per cent customers who build snowboards in our courses."
Help by the pros
The approximately 35 workshops a year are open to everyone – no special technical skills are required, but it "doesn't hurt if you're not all thumbs," laughs Axel. Each workshop is held by an experienced ski builder who guides and assists participants through the entire process. The type of ski, materials, and design are discussed before the workshop begins. On the first day, edges are bent into shape, attached and then laminated. After the epoxy is applied, the skis' different layers are glued together. Then each pair of skis sets in the kiln for twelve hours. The next day, the hobby ski builders can saw out the skis and Axel and his colleagues help with the finishing touches.
Design & quality
At the end of the one-and-a-half-day workshop, the proud ski builders can go for a trial run with their new boards. Most add a personal touch like their name or their country's flag. People appreciate the individual styling, but even more the high quality of the materials used. "We build about 500 pairs of skis each year; that's nine or ten tons of wood. Our bigger suppliers are happy to give us special offers and provide material that fulfils our expectations and meets the customers' needs," Axel elaborates.
Axel Forelle was a professional ski athlete until he was 18, specializing in the more technical disciplines. "There's a point when you have to decide whether you want to make a living in professional sports, or not." Axel chose not to and studied business law instead. But working in a law firm in Garmisch-Partenkirchen was never his goal: "I knew that if I wasn't going to do anything in tourism, I would have to do something with sports."
In the future, build2ride wants to produce skis and offer workshops in the heart of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The shop in Ludwigstraße is about to be remodeled and expanded. "I want customers to come here in the morning, pick their design and materials and hold their new skis in their hands the same evening, " Axel shares his plans. "Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the perfect site for build2ride!"
Dec. 6, 2016