Industry Profile: Endeavor Snowboards Founder Max Jenke
26 Aug, 2008
Max: I’m 29 years old, born and raised in Vancouver Canada, which is rare, since everyone here is from somewhere else. I’m married to a beautiful kiwi girl named Natasha and have a little dude who is 2 months old named Maddox. I grew up riding Whistler and the local mountains (Grouse, Seymour, and Cypress) and was a pro rider from 16 to 22. Snowboarding has been a passion since I was 12 and still is seventeen years later. I started Endeavor with a crew of friends six years ago and it’s still going strong!
Shay: What is your job title?
Max: Managing Director of Endeavor Snowboard Design
Shay: Did your parents question your job choice?
Max: No – they got used to me doing things my own way when I was riding professionally. I realized pretty early that I wanted to work for myself. They were supportive of my decision of riding for a living and then starting a company. I promised them I would keep up school at the University of British Columbia, but I stopped classes after my third year to focus on Endeavor.
Shay: What was your first set up?
Max: A GNU Kaos 145 with Elfgin bindings…I got it for my 12th birthday from my Grandpa Jenke.
Shay: What is your current set up?
Max: It varies where I’m riding. BOD 158 for powder days up the peak of Whistler or Live 156 for messing around on the local mountains.
Shay: What was your first job?
Max: Aside from my paper route, my first real job was at Option Snowboards doing odd jobs – helping with screen printing, sanding topsheets…lots of shit factory work. I learned a lot about snowboard construction which has certainly paid off! I also found that I was really interested in designing the boards.
Shay: What’s a great day of snowboarding to you?
Max: Hit runs at Whistler or Blackcomb – good snow, either powder or slush. Good crew…good apres at Dusty’s!
Shay: Who are your influences?
Max: My main influences are my wife Natasha, Bruce and Scott my business partners, my parents, friends, Richard Branson…They all support me 100% and push me to be a better person, professionally and personally.
Shay: How long have you been snowboarding?
Max: Since I was 12 – so seventeen years!
Shay: How many days do you get to ride a year?
Max: It varies with my travel schedule. I try to get in at least 20 days per year. Depends on how the snow is on the local hills.
Shay: What is your role at Endeavor?
Max: I have many roles but my favorite role is creative director. I love researching, sourcing, and working with Endeavor’s roster of talented artists from around the world. It’s rewarding seeing the designs on the final product. I have a great mentor so the business side can be really fun too.
Shay: What’s the story behind Endeavor?
Max: Endeavor was founded in 2002 after World Industries canceled their adult program of snowboards and I found there was no other snowboard company I wanted to ride for. I spent a season riding lots of different snowboards and found I was going to have to make myself the ultimate snowboard. An opportunity came up to make some boards in Oregon, so I jumped on it and Endeavor was born. I wanted a brand that represented me and my friends – our interests, our inspirations, our unique lifestyle. The aim at Endeavor was and is still today to make the best snowboards by having the best shapes, graphics and quality.
The brand name was created because the word was exactly what we were about.
The word Endeavor is defined as:
en•deav•or / en?dev?r/ (Brit. en•deav•our): v. try hard to do or achieve something / n. an attempt to achieve a goal / earnest and industrious effort, esp. when sustained over a period of time.
Shay: Since the company started in 2002, what has been the biggest change in the company?
Max: There are changes every day…however I would say the biggest change has been the evolution of the brand. We’ve matured a lot as a company and our goals get bigger and crazier every year…this change is really exciting.
Shay: What were some of the challenges that Endeavor has faced?
Max: Where do I start? Factories going out of business, world economics changing, currency fluctuations, recessions, etc, etc. These are challenges that most other companies face but you need to experience them to grow and become stronger.
Through all of our challenges I am so proud that we still own Endeavor. Many independently owned businesses in the industry couldn’t survive and merged with larger distribution groups. Scott Serfas, my father in law Bruce, and I are still the sole owners of the brand. I think we’re really the only brand today that can claim rider owned and operated.
Shay: What are your thoughts on marketing to snowboarders?
Max: Snowboard marketing has changed so much over the years. Kids don’t have to buy a magazine to see their favorite rider or wait for a DVD to come out to see the new shit, it is now posted online immediately and it is more interactive. The kids today have a say about everything, such as what is the best board, who is the best rider, etc etc. Because of this Endeavors website is constantly updated with new content and this fall we are launching online campaigns with various websites.
Shay: What is Endeavor’s image?
Max: Endeavor is a clean, cool, streetwear style company that makes quality boards with great shapes and uses the best artists.
Shay: Do you see social media as a important future for Endeavor?
Max: I think social media is amazing. Facebook is an incredible tool for spreading and gathering info. Blogging is also super hot right now, I love it because it is personal and opinionated – it is like reading someone’s column, you can find out so much from blogs.
Shay: Endeavor works with a variety of artists each year, how do you find and select artists?
Max: Most are friends who we have a high respect for…some are referred by our crew, some are found cruising websites.
Shay: What’s involved in the process of choosing construction materials for Endeavor Snowboards?
Max: Wake up at 6am…check emails from iPhone in bed. Gym, breakfast, walk into work by 8:30 with my rottie Stella. Work till 6pm. The work varies throughout the season. Right now I’m managing delivery logistics of our fall products while signing off on 09/10 samples. This fall, I’m focused on marketing the products in store while getting ready for the sales season.
Max: Having fun, first and foremost. Second by being real and bringing my flavor to the mix. At the end of the day, Endeavor is my opinion of what is cool. Hopefully people agree!
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working at Endeavor?
Max: I’ll never forget making cores with Randy Ross, our creative director, in the first year of business. Our core supplier called it quits because K2 moved to China, so we had to make our own cores at his factory at 9pm to 2am, then drive 4 hours to the factory to meet the 6am shift. The RV road trips with our sales manager Chris Martin, the many production trips to China and Europe with Bruce and the inspiration trips to LA and NYC with Natasha.
Max: Amazing! Everyday is a perk. I get to travel to the dopest places, ride the best mountains and work with the coolest and most innovative people.
Shay: What’s the best park you’ve gotten from your job?
Max: Working with amazing people.
Shay: Any disadvantages of your job?
Max: If something goes wrong, it’s on me!
Max: Here and there…but I mainly focus on testing our own and find out what I like and what to improve. I do encourage our riders to trial other brands boards as they are closer to the product that I am now, they ride everyday.
Shay: What’s the busiest time of year for you?
Max: All year is pretty busy…I would say shipping and show time is the most hectic.
Shay: Education vs. Experience…which do you think is more important?
Max: I think they are both equally important.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the snowboard industry?
Max: Always endeavor to follow your dream…
Shay: Final thoughts?
Max: Always Endeavor.