Industry Profile: Powdertools Assistant Manager Bernie Tomassetti
29 Jul, 2010
Job Title: Assistant Manager
Employer: Powder Tools Snowboard Shop
Years on snow: 18
Days on snow: 90+
Currently Riding: Ride Society 157, Ride RFL boots size 8.5, Ride Alpha Movement Bindings, CAPP3L Clothing, Oakley Crowbar Goggles, Skull Candy headphones
Currently I am: Waiting anxiously for the Flyers Stanley Cup finals game 1 to start. My Flyers and Phillies are playing today, it’s awesome.
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Bernie: I’m 32 years old, born and raised in Philly. I live and die with my Philly sports teams. I grew up playing hockey, snowboarding and skateboarding. I moved out here to Steamboat Springs early summer of 2001. I have been selling freedom at PowderTools ever since.
Shay: How has snowboarding changed your life?
Bernie: Because of snowboarding I quit my good job and moved to Steamboat without knowing anyone or ever being to Steamboat. If it wasn’t for snowboarding, I would probably still be wearing a suit selling cars at the auto mall in Philly and wouldn’t have met my fiance Mandy.
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
Bernie: Well when I was younger and still living in Philly I hung out at a local snowboard shop. I’m sure I pissed Jamie off a little by not ever leaving and asking a million questions about tuning and everything else involved in snowboarding. He started taking me to Jackson Hole every year for a week or 2. This ruined snowboarding for me on the east coast. So in early summer of 2001 I picked up my life and moved here to Steamboat. I got a job at PowderTools. I started off mostly tuning/repair, then eventually getting the assistant manager position 4 years ago. Along with that Shawn Penrod and Josh Tillman from Ride Snowboards started flowing me all of my gear. At the start of this past season, Shawn Penrod got promoted to National Sales and Marketing manager for Ride that would take him in house up to Seattle. With this Shawn got me hooked up with Paul McGinty, who is the head board designer for them. Now I’m on Ride’s development team. So what that means is that I get the fun job of testing all the new product before they send it to SIA and the on-snow demos. I also help them out at demos and such when my schedule at Ptools allows.
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
Bernie: My previous work experience helped my tremendously. After selling cars at one of the biggest dealerships in Philly for over 4 years, selling a snowboard setup is a joke in comparison. If you can successfully sell cars you can sell anything. Working with customers one on one and being able to listen to their needs. It’s all about stoking the person out and building a relationship with them to earn their trust and business for life. Repeat business is everything.
Shay: Tell us about your role at Powdertools/Christy Sports and a description of the work you do?
Bernie: Well my basically I’m Jake’s bitch. But really some of my roles include doing all the special orders, warranty, point of contact for most of the reps and companies we deal with. The tune shop is my baby, I take a lot of pride in our tune shop. They take really good care of Jake and I. We are both fortunate enough to have a year round job on salary with full benefits and paid vacations. Also being able to snowboard everyday for free.
Shay: What’s an average day like at work for you?
Bernie: Work at Ptools is far from average with the crew that we have, never a dull moment. I get to the shop about 7:40am, and the first thing I do is turn on the 2 fireplaces and all the t.v.’s. Sit on the couch for a minute drink my coffee and try to catch any of my home teams highlights. We get busy usually right at 8am or earlier. It’s very common to have a line at the door before we even show up. As you know we are right in Gondola Square at the base of the mountain so we are always busy. We are a fully functional shop, so full retail, rentals, and repair. Rental definitely varies from week to week depending on certain events or holidays. So its normal for us to do 30 – 600 rental set ups in a one or two day period depending on the time of season. When a music series comes it gets pretty crazy. We have the most complete rental and demo fleet in Steamboat, hands down. We get new rental gear every season. Also sell a few setups or so, than tune anywhere from 15 – 40 boards a night for customers. In the middle of all the chaos we go shredding for 4-5 hrs. We get a minimal of 6 days a week on snow. 2 years ago I got double knee surgery and still rode 75 days that season. I love my job.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Bernie: Two standout the most. The first was a couple years ago when Maka, Kurtis (Baby Gorilla), Weitzel and myself got to shred with Jake Burton and the crew ( Jeremy Jones, Dave Downing, Jeff Curtis, Todd Richards, Kelly Clarke, Elena and Jussi). Then Jake took us to dinner and we drank a shitload of Don Julio and top shelf margs with all of them. Maka and I found out that Jake is not big on Crown Royal, but is into Don Julio. It was the best gray day ever. Great shred with great people. They brought all of the next years gear for us to shred. They got a little upset when Kurtis, Wietzel and I didn’t ride their gear and I was in the front row of our group photo holding my Ride Society. It was hilarious.
The other big memorable experience happened this past March. Ride Snowboards flew me up to their headquarters in Seattle. I received a full tour of the facility. I got to watch them build a board from the ground up. I also got to sit down at round table meetings to give input about the entire line, hard and soft goods. I was there for 4 days so I was able to sit down one on one with all of the designers and talk future developments. I also had the chance to get to know Yoshida. He runs Ride Snowboards in Japan, definitely one of the coolest people I have ever met. Mike Erwin (Rocky Mt. Ride Rep) and myself introduced car-bombs to him. He had no idea what we were talking about until I handed him the pint and shot glasses. Needless to say, he loved them. We also went shredding at Summit and Alpental with most of the guys. It was nice having Paul(board designer) and Frankie (binding designer)show us some sweet lines. This long weekend was also the Ride Shakedown contest at Summit. So full VIP access and treatment. The contest was awesome, several of our PowderTools team riders were in it. My friend Izzy took first in the rail jam for the ladies. Steamboat and the Rocky Mt. crew were definitely holding it down, i still feel like my boy Erik VanAssche got robbed. Best Miller flip I have ever seen. Over the course of the weekend my buddy Jamie and Mikey LeBlanc figured out that they were some how related. How random, small world. This was such a great experience for me, my liver still hurts. Keeping up with Penrod and the Ride crew is not an easy task, thank God I was coming from altitude. I hope they invite me to next years Shake Down in Japan. Yoshida said he will show us how to party Tokyo style, I can’t wait.
Shay: What do you think are the biggest challenges that the snowboard industry faces and what changes would you like to see for the future?
Bernie: I feel a big challenge for the industry is the economy. I’ve seen so many companies and stores go from successful to bankrupt. 2 snowboard shops in Steamboat just went under just a few weeks ago, it’s scary. That is why people should support your local shops and not big online dealers. These people don’t tune your boards or fix your shit when it breaks, your local shop does, so give back the love and support them. I am very fortunate that PowderTools is very successful due to our loyal customers, Jake Jarvis (shop manager) and the rest of our shop crew.
The changes I would like to see in the future? I would like to see more companies listen to the real riders a little more. I understand that the general public are the ones who buy most of the gear but it’s us who know whats crap and what really works. For example this whole rocker trend. Yes it’s great for pow and newbies but when it comes to aggressive riding and big jumps, nothing STOMPS like a cambered board. It’s nice that it helps bridge the gap from newbie to intermediate rider, but once you get to a certain level there is not enough board under your feet. If you look at most of the pros and expert riders, they are on cambered boards. Everyone who works and rides for us rides camber unless it’s a huge pow day. The day companies stop making cambered boards they are gonna lose the respect from the real snowboarders and a ton of business. I keep telling Ride that if they stop making camber that I’m moving back home to Philly and never snowboarding again. It seems like the industry got stale for awhile so every company is trying to find some new gimmick to sell you. I understand that you have to cater to the general public but you can’t take away camber from the expert riders. It’s all about reverse rocker baby!
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Bernie: Experience is education. You can’t learn the industry through a book or some person who clearly isn’t in the industry. I definitely feel that education is always a good thing to have. It definitely helps if you wanna do something specific like running a store (business degree) or designer (engineering degree). But these alone will not get you a job in this industry. This industry hires from within, so you gotta pay your dues.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Bernie: Get a job at your local shop and start where everyone else in this industry, at the fucking bottom. I moved 2,000 miles away from home to do this. Let your work do the talking, don’t think that you are the best and that you know everything. You don’t get anywhere by talking a big game about yourself cause it only takes about a half of a run to figure out that you suck and have no idea what you are talking about. The industry is way smaller than people think. Word travels fast, especially bad shit. All the real riders don’t care how good you are or what trick you just landed, we just care about the shred with the homies. So shut your mouth, open your ears and learn something. Stay loyal, don’t become a product whore.
I just wanna say thanks Shay for asking me to do this interview. You will be greatly missed this winter in Steamboat.