Industry Profile: Planet Snow Design President & Co-owner Ryan Neptune
24 Sep, 2009
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Ryan: My name is Ryan Neptune I am the proud father of two boys Mathew 9 and Jeffrey 8 and husband of 12 years to my one and only girlfriend Christina whom I have known for 17 years now. I am Co-owner and managing partner of Planet with my great friend of 16 years Pat Malendoski
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, what opened up more opportunities for you?
Ryan: Professional Snowboarder and Competing…Being the first ever US Snowboard BX Champion 99 gave me some legitimacy is suppose.
Shay: What is your job title?
Ryan: President and Co-owner
Shay: Did your parents question your job choice?
Ryan: No, backed me all the way and still do today
Shay: What was your first set up?
Ryan: Burton Cruiser
Shay: What is your current set up?
Ryan: Burton Custom X
Shay: What was your first job?
Ryan: Mowing Lawns
Shay: What’s a great day of snowboarding to you?
Ryan: Back Country Powder, Big Rocks and Steep Chutes
Shay: Who are your influences?
Ryan: An early influence in my life has to be my great friend of 32 years Matt Whitlock who is a person with impeccable work ethic and integrity. Today however, I am mostly influenced by my wife and kids, whose demands on my time I am glad to oblige.
Shay: How long have you been snowboarding?
Ryan: This is my 26th year…I think
Shay: How many days do you get to ride a year?
Shay: What is your role at Planet Snow?
Ryan: Owner and Managing Partner with Pat Malendoski
Shay: What led you to start your own consulting/building company?
Ryan: Pat Malendoski and his hair brained ideas.
Shay: Is building parks a collaborative or individual effort?
Ryan: Both as it takes a captain on each job… main thing is we don’t use “TESTERS.” We are the guys that jump our jumps, ride our rails. From 10ft -110ft it has to be ridden by us or we don’t build it.
Shay: Who are the people behind Planet Snow?
Ryan: People I trust with kids and family…people who are creative well educated, family oriented, non-drinkers, non-smokers… Work hard to play hard. knowing work is always first type guys. Pat Malendoski, Mike Langdon, Calvin Hunt, Trent Spanbauer, Rich Schollum, Igari Fumitaka and myself are the main principals there is a network of other seasonal and part timers but these are the year round essentials of the team.
Shay: What contests/events have you build the parks for?
Ryan: Planet had worked on 75 different USSA Grand Prix Venues since 1998, Burton US Opens since 1998, Vail Sessions, 2002 SLC Olympics, Burton Asian Open since 2001, Park City World Superpipe, HCSC at Timberline since 1997, Burton Canadian Open, Vans Triple Crowns, 48 Straight tour, Gravity Games, Goodwill Games…ect…
Shay: What are the key elements to making a good park?
Ryan: Consistency, Presentation and Flow
Shay: Do you test or get to try out any of the features you build?
Ryan: Every feature is ridden by us first.
Shay: How are contest parks different from resort terrain parks?
Ryan: Depending on the event it is just an elevated skill level.
Shay: How do you build progression into terrain parks for a resort?
Ryan: Progression is funny, as it is rule number one in any learning process whether it is sports or academics. The very use of the term is comical as to us it is too much like pointing out the obvious. Progression Parks is term recently created to make terrain parks more marketable. By definition progression is movement in stages… By design Planet has always started off each season stepping back to beginner and intermediate terrain at the beginning of the season and moving slowly towards more advanced terrain throughout the year. This concept (teaching 101) goes with everything in life.
Shay: As a terrain park designer/builder, what’s your take on lawsuits when people get injured in the park?
Ryan: Some jumps are definitely built wacky and wrong and people could get hurt. Getting hurt in anything is no ones fault but the participant. As a parent of 8 and 9 year old boys I would never let them go play in traffic but at a ski resort for some reason they feel like they can just let their kids run without supervision. Even at most skateparks parents don’t leave their kids as unattended as they do at ski resorts. My opinion every incident is totally avoidable with proper resort and parental support. There is not a feature in the world made by someone else that I could get hurt on because I ride within my comfort zone and make decisions based on my desire to walk tomorrow. No one is forcing anyone to ski or snowboard… in fact we all pay one way or another to get to a resort and purchase lift tickets and there is no mandatory jump or rail lines. We all have choices to jump or not to jump and ride or not too ride and if your not old enough to make a responsible decisions whether your skill level is appropriate for a jump line or not or if your legs are too tired or not then the blame falls on your parents who have been neglectful and lazy not to baby sit you. Most accidents are exactly that accidents and personal responsibility is the code in life we should all try to live by. You almost never hear about a lawsuit from a skatepark and that is a much more difficult sport with greater easy of access with much harder consequences.
Shay: What prompted you to start Neptune Industries and Planet Snow Tools?
Ryan: What prompted me to start a company is one simple thought… I told myself from the age of 10, that I never wanted to work for anyone but myself. I have made that my life long mission and goal, where as to date I have yet to apply for and receive a job other than working for myself. I started Neptune Industries believe it or not all the way back to 1990 or so and the product or service it provides has just morphed into its current version today. My manufacturing facility serves any type of fabrication need from high purity stainless steel and purged pipe welding to stainless kitchen and sheet metal finishing to structural steel fabrication, all forms of welding MIG, TIG, FCAW, GMAW with plasma capabilities and CNC rolling and bending. Neptune also provides modular and concrete skateparks, full landscaping from resort to industrial to residential. We provide full turnkey terrain park support and equipment supply. In recent years we started a service of full resort operations consulting where we can streamline and reorganize your resort management structure to work and flow directionally together, helping provide a faster, cheaper and better end product for all resorts.
Shay: How has the machinery/tools for terrain park building progressed?
Ryan: Is there a need for more development? Terrain park equipment has progressed with my demand for efficiencies, Planet started making tools 15 years ago out of our necessity and we have brought forth an entire industry of companies and people who can now earn a living from the ideas we have developed.
Shay: What’s your average day like at work?
Ryan: Project, project, projects… A good friend of 25 plus years told me last night…”it is never a dull moment in your world.” It is probably best summed up as organized chaos.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Ryan: Seeing the progression of all 4 sevens then all 4 nines then all 4 tens and probably my most memorable is I, with one single hand, almost completely killed boardercross.
Shay: How is working in the industry (any cool work events, work environment, job perks)?
Ryan: I sum this up as I love my job and hate the industry. Everyone in the ski industry is way too cool for school and it is quite annoying. I have never met a more underachieving slack jawed eclectic group of sheep. It is always interesting that’s for sure. The perk is building fun each and everyday.
Shay: What experience did you have or attributes before getting the job?
Ryan: This question is kind of like it has always been and always was for me. When we started doing this, this sector of the industry just did not exist. As a professional snowboarder I took almost all my earnings and income for years and years and built all things fun in my life that just did not exist before and by pure happenstance the industry seemed to evolve around it. I have spent the past 30 years skateboarding and participating with passion in just about every sport there is and that has given me what we have today.
Shay: What’s the best perk you’ve gotten from your job?
Ryan: Being able to build things that bring smiles to peoples faces.
Shay: Any disadvantages of your job?
Ryan: The biggest disadvantage is the travel and not spending time with my kids and wife.
Shay: Since you started in the snowboarding industry, what’s been the biggest change?
Ryan: The sport is now considered a traditional sport activity whereas when I started it was definitely non-traditional and more for the punk side of the youth culture.
Shay: What’s the busiest time of year for you?
Ryan: Probably June, July, January and February are the craziest months
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Ryan: Experience is education my opinion… So experience
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in terrain park design?
Ryan: Build what you love and love what you build and you will never fail.
Shay: Final thoughts?
Ryan: Be sure to ride powder as it’s the real deal.
*Photos courtesy of Ryan Neptune.