Professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones always knew Truckee was an ideal place to run the North American arm of his international snowboard brand, Jones Snowboards; he just had to wait for the right window for operations to move back home.
Jones started the company in his Truckee home six years ago, drawing inspiration from the local mountains. Hoewever, business operations were always based in Bellingham, Wash., where Jones’ parent company, Switzerland-based Nidecker, was already running other brands.
Then last year, Nidecker CEO Henry Nidecker moved the North American headquarters to Truckee, in large part from being pressured by Jones to consider his hometown as a suitable base.
Now, Jones Snowboards and four other outdoor brands — Yes Snowboards, Slash Snowboards, Now Bindings, and Laird StandUp, professional surfer Laird Hamilton’s stand-up paddleboarding company — all operate under the Nidecker umbrella in Truckee. Since November, these brands, known collectively as Nidecker North America, are housed in a spacious, modern, and unassuming space in downtown Truckee in the Garden Folly building.
“This community is very special and being able to hire from within [the Tahoe Community] has proven to be very successful,” Jones said. “We all share the same passions and have a drive to create a meaningful company that is long lasting.”
Hard at work and play
The staff of eight manages sales, distribution, and marketing from the Truckee office, and everyone agrees that Truckee is a perfect location for this type of business.
“We sell snowboards, bindings, and stand-up paddleboards. What better place could there be to base this business,” said Josh Hoyer, vice president of sales and marketing for Nidecker North America.
The Tahoe region’s deep talent base helped spur the move back to Tahoe, as Jones had confidence in the experience of the staff that was assembled.
For example, Hoyer worked for Oakley for a decade before Nidecker; Jen McVey, the current general manager for Nidecker North America, has 13 years working for the outdoor clothing brand Nikita; and Dave Campbell, the dealer services manager for Nidecker North America, worked for Patagonia and Black Diamond for a combined seven years.
McVey, who has lived in Truckee for the better part of 20 years, is surprised that more national brands aren’t based in the Tahoe region, noting that it’s common for these brands to base themselves in large cities. She believes there are a wealth of overqualified locals that are suited for the brands they work with.
“We want to connect people’s passion to a career, and it’s awesome if the company can do that,” McVey said, who was instrumental in working with Jones on the relocation. “I looked at the situation and thought, ‘Why shouldn’t the business be based here?’ In discussions with Jeremy I told him, ‘We will make it work!’”
The crew acknowledges the oft-cited challenges of having a business in Truckee, namely the high price of real estate and California taxes, but a strong value is placed on basing the company where the gear is used. Additionally, the landlords live in Truckee, adding to the community feel.
“The location makes it great to connect with local people and partnerships and do things like get out on the mountain as often as possible,” Campbell said, who is known to head into the backcountry with Jones at 4 a.m. with headlamps before a full workday.
The company aims to foster an active lifestyle as much as possible, but with the incredibly competitive nature of the outdoor sports industry, staying successful requires working long hours even when recreation is calling.
“We run on an almost 24-hour business cycle. Calls start coming in early from the East Coast in the morning, and there is a nine hour difference between Truckee and Switzerland,” Campbell said.
As word recently spread about the Nidecker North America’s move to Truckee, many locals have been knocking on the door or emailing, often inquiring about employment. But McVey noticed some interested employees were surprised and even turned off to hear about the rigidity of the schedules, as they imagined there would be sufficient time allotted for getting outdoors.
“In a perfect world there would be some kind of pow clause, or pow rule that would give us time for riding when the conditions were ripe,” Hoyer said.
As the staff continues to grow the company in their new digs, they look forward to letting the landscape of Tahoe help mold the direction of the company.
“I think it’s especially important to have the North American headquarters in Jeremy’s hometown,” Campbell said. “It’s important for us to be able to have business discussions in the environment that inspires our over-arching reasons for being in business.”
For more information, check out Jones Snowboards website at jonessnowboards.com and all the Nidecker brands at nidecker.com