Industry Profile: Porters Tahoe Web Developer Lars Ames
07 Jun, 2011
Job Title: Web Developer, Web Guy, Lead Web Nerd… All applicable
Employer: Porters Sports / PortersTahoe.com
Years on snow: 20 (on a snowboard) I skied for three years but who really counts those days anyway.
Days on snow: 30 and I know that seems really bad for a winter like we just had but I did get some of the best POW days.
Currently Riding: Depends on the day and condition. In Tahoe you need a quiver of boards and I am also known as a gear whore. My general board of choice is the K2 Slayblade, Pow is a Ride Slackcountry, jibs/park is a Burton Hero.
Currently I am: Trying to find ways to beat my friends at “Word with Friends” I am realizing my scrabble skills really suck.
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Lars: I have lived in the Tahoe area for almost 10 years, worked for PortersTahoe.com for 5 years. I am also a fully certified AASI instructor at Squaw Valley USA. I have been married for 5 years and have 2 amazing daughters.
I was lucky enough to be laid off from a job on the east coast in 2001, packed up my car with what I could fit in it and drove cross country stopping along the way to place my Connecticut unemployment call from all the amazing places I could think of. Steamboat had to be the best spots that I stopped to tell CT, yes I am still looking for work, but alas no, I have not found anything just yet… I told myself I would stay for only one season as an instructor at Squaw Valley and then return back to Ohio to look for real work. That plan worked out perfectly…
Shay: How has snowboarding changed your life?
Lars: I skied for 3 years, back when there was no side cut and I remember seeing guys carving down the hill and also riding switch. That hooked me on trying it and I haven’t looked back ever since. I had to learn on 235 vertical feet with only manmade snow and a super short season. I know that makes it sound like I walked uphill both ways to school but it gave me a great appreciation for what I have now. Snowboarding has been a daily learning experience that I take into my daily life as well. I try and learn something new each time I go out on the hill, sometimes its refining a turn and other times its switch boardslides.
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
Lars: I think instructing opened the doors, or at least gave me my start. I went to college for Graphic Design but had no idea how to get into the industry, but then I started to instruct, I met reps and the ball kept rolling from there. I taught for one season at Okemo mountain in Vermont and decided that instead of working a corporate job I should enjoy my youth and teach for a season. I decided to stay past my first season in Tahoe and took a summer job at a local newspaper. One of the advertisers that came in was the owner of Porters. I hounded him for 4 years about what I could do for him and how I could help his business and finally he caved and offered me a job.
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
Lars: I went to school for Graphic Design at the Rochester Institute of Technology and that gave me the foundation to build a career from there. I know lots of very talented designers who didn’t go to school and are very successful at their careers but I needed solid direction in order to achieve what I have thus far. Also having a pseudo corporate job on the east coast helped me hone my skills but man when a job is too corporate you realize how bad you want something laid back and carefree. I mean, I worked in an office that the topic of conversation was about Star Treck (the lame next generation series not the classic with Spock and Kirk).
Shay: Tell us about your role at Porters Tahoe and a description of the work you do?
Lars: I am the Web Developer for PortersTahoe.com, Easyloungin.com and TheDamoutlet.com. I design the look and feel of the sites, work on the backend code (PHP, ASP and Jquery) for the functionality and include as much Social Media presence as possible by blogging, tweeting and facebooking. I guess that makes it sound like I do a lot but when you have a view of Northstar out your window its sometimes really hard to get work done. Luckily my job is flexible enough to let me work afterhours and get some shred time in between.
Shay: What’s an average day like at work for you?
Lars: That can really depend on the year and or weather. We always have to stay 6 months ahead of product release, so part of the year is getting product ready on the site as early as possible. If we are seeing good weather then more focus shifts to reporting and then I still have to stay as in the know about technology shifts and changes. But you also have to throw in days playing on the hill because any good website needs to have reviews of new and upcoming product and if I have to be that guy then why not. Good content is not going to write its self while sitting in an office chair all day long.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Lars: Playing Golf with the DC snowboard team at Northstar at Tahoe, Devon Walsh is a gamer. Burton World tour stop with the Supersuckers. Wearing a Gorilla suite at the Transworld Team Challenge at Heavenly and refusing to give the Dingo a hotdog. Early ups on KT-22 during a pow day (yeah you can hate me on that). Getting stuck in an elevator at the Silver Legacy (sorry Monte, I will never jump up and down in an elevator again). Riding laps at Squaw with Jeremy Jones. Having the Smith table buy our table too many shots at SIA (the cool Vegas SIA not that lame Denver one). Johan from C3 nicknamed me a “Rookie”.
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?
Lars: Snowboarding is starting to lose out to skiing in market shares and with the overall acceptance of easy to use ski technology, it has become easier for a family to all ski than to snowboard. With Lift ticket prices, gas and cost to produce goods all rising the snowboard industry needs to reinvent its self in order to stay competitive with the overall action sport market. I want to see snowboarding grow and find its roots that made it fun and first appealing back in the early 90’s (damnit I sound old) when it was all about lobster pants and black fly’s.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Lars: That all depends on the area you wish to go into. I think education is extremely important for my position. My degree gave me not only the ability to quickly develop but also understand time management and work ethic. But in the same sense experience helps as well As any fresh faced college kid knows that finding your first job is tough when you do not have any real world experience. So a little from column A and a little from column B. In the snowboard world finding the right job also heavily relies on who you know. While there are sites like Malakye out there that make it way easier to get your foot in the door in the industry, but to work for some of the smaller companies that are pushing the creative envelope you need to be talented and know the right people.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Lars: This ain’t a government job with a pension or 401k plan. Do it because you love it but also plan for your future. At least in the current economy there isn’t a lot of positive movement going on and unless the industry changes its going to be tough to make a great living, but most of us are in it because we have passion for the snow. At some point you might have to make a choice to do it for the love or switch careers if you love money more, but if you have the love for something you will find a way to make it work no matter what the cost.
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