Interview with Hans – General Manager of Armada Ski Co.
Armada. Not the Spanish kind we’re talking about the rebellious Park City, Utah ski company known as the industry’s first rider-owned and operated manufacturer. This Armada is known for big mountain and park skis, cutting-edge graphics – inspired by street art – and the knack for connecting with a younger generation of skiers.
Hans Smith, founder and current General Manager of Armada, and has been with the company since its early days in Costa Mesa, California. When the company moved to Park City – a lot changed – especially the weekend adventures. In 2014, Armada and
Hans, gave up the clogged Southern California freeways for the canyons and mountain passes of the Wasatch. No more 6 hour drives to find snow on Friday afternoon. The options are endless with world-class resorts, and vast backcountry for ski-tourism and sled laps (snowmobile access).
Hans packs his snowmobile on the back of a 2011 Toyota Tundra, allowing him to quickly access powder if the crowds are jamming lift lines in Cottonwood Canyon, or up at Park City. At the end of a snow-covered access road, a group of skiers are revving the engines of their powerful 500lb machines making conversation difficult. At first, this might not strike you as a gathering of some of the leaders in climate change awareness, but the truth is, Hans and the rest of the ski industry are doing everything in their power to make changes and raise awareness. Hans explains bluntly that the snow sports industry’s success is directly correlated to the amount of snowfall over the course of a few winter months.
“More snow equals more sales. Period.”
If you look closely among the snowmobiles and diesel pickup trucks, you will notice that these powder hounds have a unique brand of tire, TreadWright. “In the mountains, it is essential to have the most durable gear, from gloves to ski bindings to the tire you are running on your truck.” Hans explains, “Mother Nature beats up equipment, it’s that simple. When you find a product which performs, it is worth staying with it in the long run. TreadWright is in a class of its own though. It’s American, cheaper than its competitors and reduces my footprint on the environment. I am not sure if you can say that about anything in our industry.”
Hans is describing the unique manufacturing process which TreadWright has perfected, known as mold-cure or tire re-manufacturing. The Houston, Texas-based company uses recycled SUV/Light-Truck tires to re-manufacture a tire with commercial grade rubber in both All-Terrain and Mud-Terrain tread. “A lot of folks will confuse the product with a re-treaded tire, at first. But with a couple of minutes of research, it is easy to see that TreadWright is doing something unique in re-manufacturing and upgrading a tire to outperform products which cost $200 more per tire. That’s a $1,000 a set – it leaves a lot more budget for gear.” Hans was honest in saying that at first, he thought the product was going to be iffy, but now that he is on the second set, he appreciates how strong the tread is, and the strength of the commercial grade rubber which results in a better product life.
“Since the casing is recycled, TreadWright can invest in a more durable rubber, resulting in better wear. It’s truly amazing”