The Founders Series #2: Matt Cudmore, Meier Skis

By Something Independent March 3, 2013.

There is real – in the put your hands on it, bang it around, send it down a mountain, solid kind of way. And there is genuine, in the identifiable, yet you can’t quite describe it kind of way. You just know it when you see it.

Matt Cudmore is that guy. His solid 6’2” frame indicates the gritty, built-to-last, Rocky Mountain dude that he is. His smile hints to the way of a man who gives more than he will ever take and who lives not by any particular code, but simply by choosing his path, working hard and surrounding himself with good people. This is the heart of Meier Skis.

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Raised in the northern reaches of Idaho, Matt now makes his home at the confluence of the Colorado and Roaring Fork Rivers in the town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. It’s the kind of place where you imagine raising a family. Friendly and picturesque, you know most everyone by name – and if you don’t, you still smile and chat as if you do. It’s the kind of place that when you decide to go all in and start building skis out of your one-car garage, that friends and neighbors have your back.

The path to Glenwood Springs for Matt and his wife Rosie, took them from Idaho to Montana to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Along the way, Matt studied architecture, built houses, became a certified flight mechanic, and received his pilots license, which he paid for in trade with a handshake and a promise of snowboard lessons for life for his flight instructor.

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Once back in the familiar surrounds of western snowcapped peaks, the itch to build a pair of skis set in. Working out of his tiny one car garage with wood purchased right off the rack at Lowes, Matt produced the first pair of what would become Meier skis. There was no turning back from there. Glenwood’s local mountain resort, Sunlight Mountain, became the backyard testing ground for Meier Skis. Even in the summer when Matt worked cutting trees and clearing trails on the mountain in exchange for ski passes for his family, he considered it research on how he would build his next pair of skis to best handle Sunlight’s many powder stashes.

Honing his skills with each new pair, which he sold to friends for $135, almost enough to cover the costs of his materials, Matt began developing a reputation for turning out quality, hand-built skis. Never satisfied with just what works today, Matt began incorporating beetle-kill pine into his core material. It’s a difficult wood to work with in terms of making skis and it took some time to find the right balance with the primary aspen core wood. But Matt found the sweet spot and emerged with a lightweight, high-performance ski made with 100% natural wood products harvested in Colorado.

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The commitment to utilizing Colorado harvested woods puts Meier Skis on the map with the Colorado Forest Products program, which raises awareness about Colorado forests and wood products industry. By using Colorado forest products to build Meier Skis, Matt and his team are helping to provide jobs and boost local economies, and are doing their part to make Colorado forests a better place and more sustainable for the future.

As word of Meier Skis spread, demand grew and growth of the company became a reality. While a good problem to have, with success came challenges. Except for the one fleeting moment when Matt & Rosie said to each other, “we’ll give it one more month,” the answer was to always move forward, each and every day. Solutions will reveal themselves.

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With friends and family already squarely on-board, Matt turned to the Roaring Fork Business Resource Center, a partner of the Colorado Small Business Development Center Network, hoping someone would talk him out of this crazy idea to start a ski manufacturing company. But there was no talking Matt out of taking Meier Skis to the next level. His business continues to grow and he attributes much of that success to the community of Glenwood Springs. He thinks about that everyday. Even the names of his skis, like The Doc, in reference to Doc Holliday who spent his dying days in Glenwood Springs, and the Big Nose Kate’s, (Doc’s girlfriend), pay homage to the rich history of Glenwood Springs.

Today, Meier Skis operates out of 2,000 sq. ft. shop in Glenwood Springs. Over 300 people showed up for their grand opening. Matt continues to boost his production and call on local help as his production steadily increases. From the confines of his small garage, to being on pace to produce nearly 1,000 pairs a season, Meier Skis occupies an important place in the fabric of the Glenwood Springs and Roaring Fork Valley communities.

What’s next for Meier Skis? If you ask Matt and Rosie, they’ll tell you that tomorrow there are orders in, skis to be made, and kids to take school. But something always seems to pop up for the Cudmores, so they’ll just keep taking things a day at a time. To hear Matt tell it, “Everyday I come in and it’s something different, it’s exciting and I know all the questions will get answered and we’ll be off to break trail for the next adventure.”

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With each S|I Founders Series episode, we are reminded of how it always comes back to people. For us to have the opportunity to invite the Something Independent community into Matt’s world is very special and for that we are grateful. And to spend time with Matt & Rosie is to get grounded and to be reminded of things that are good and right.

_In this episode of the S|I Founders Series, Something Independent had the good fortune to work with the creative team of filmmaker, Adam Bove, creative guru, Shaun Boyte and photographer, Ali Bove. Their collective talents, perspectives, infectious smiles and big hearts allow us the opportunity to invite you in for a glimpse of the real & genuine Matt Cudmore, founder, Meier Skis.

A special S|I Founders Series nod of thanks to:

The town of Glenwood Springs, CO
Jennie Spillane & Sunlight Mountain Resort
Cedar Lodge, Glenwood Springs, CO
Stephanie Keister, Randi Lowenthal & The Roaring Fork Business Resource Center
The Colorado SBDC Network
Richie Kendall, Chea Davis & Visionary Collective
Relish Studio
Ally Seeley and Jeff Ambs

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