Industry Profile: POW Gloves Marketing Promotions Director John Kaiser
28 Jun, 2011
Job Title: Promotions Director
Employer: POW Gloves
Years on snow: 21
Days on snow: midweek
Currently Riding: Capita Stairmaster Extreme (2013)
Currently I am: Wishing I was outside (the sun is out in seattle!)
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how snowboarding has changed your life?
John: Born and raised in Philly, snowboarding was/is what shaped my educational and professional life starting with my first snowboard, a Burton free5. I got a drivers license so I could drive myself to the Poconos to go shred Shawnee and Camelback, then I went to college in Vermont so I could shred bigger and better mountains. I worked on the Mt Mansfield Ski Patrol (on a snowboard) for 2 seasons to gain some credentials and rescue skills; that got my foot in the door at Windells Camp in 1997. I lived and worked at camp full-time for almost 10 years. I started at the bottom as a counselor making the smallest pay check of my life, but I had the important things, a year round pass, food and place to live. Working at Camp allowed me to have a couple years with more than 200 days on snow! I did everything I could to get entrenched in the industry, I continued to work at Camp and take on more responsibilities, I worked on park crews in the winters, helped run events all over the region, competed in USASA events. I did everything that I could to meet more people and learn more about the industry.
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
John: EMT certification = Ski Patrol experience = foot in the door at Windells
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
John: Organizing camp, campers and staff made me very aware and adherent to project deadlines, logistics planning, and general event and people management.
Shay: Tell us about your role at Pow Gloves and Mtn Approach and a description of the work you do?
John: I have been at POW for 4 years, starting almost exclusively on Marketing and Promotions. I plan, build and organize our (3) tradeshows each year, plus handle our athletes, our catalog buildout, website changes, social media, and a variety of other projects that need managing. As my time with the company progressed, so did the job description. POW runs with a pretty tight crew, so we all wear many hats…I still do the bulk of the Marketing and Promotions work, but I have also been managing our 3 warehouses and inventory moves, our Intern program plus I’m taking on some of International Logisitics planning. I thrive on the variety in my work and the fact that I am still learning new skills each season.
My first backcountry trip was in 1996 in Maine. Three good friends and I made the 20 mile approach, then nearly made the summit of Mt Katahdin in the middle of winter! It was awesome, the Park Ranger literally asked me “what are you doing up here with that ski-board thing?”, he had never seen one before! Since that trip and seeing the Telemarker skiers glide past us on the approach hike, I have wanted exactly what Cory Smith has invented with the Mtn Approach Skis. I partnered with Cory about a year ago to help him with general operations and sales while he is doing the marketing and product development. It is a very exciting new project, not only because I am learning a lot about starting a new company, but because it is a brand and product that snowboarding needs. Finally snowboarders will be able to access the backcountry and still get to ride the snowboard of their choice.
Shay: What’s an average day like at work for you?
John: There’s a rule at the POW office; if it snows more than a foot of fresh and you get to work on time, you’re fired. That being said, we all take advantage of the POW days and the sunshine in the summer as much as possible and make up the time with late nights and weekend work. It’s a very casual office, there are usually as many dogs as people, there’s music on at each of our desks, and no dress code or punch clock. Average day for me is in the office around 8, brew a pot of coffee, email/web-updates/return calls till lunch, eat at my desk (snack-master grilled cheese), then I RedBULL up, do some data entry and “busy work” in the afternoon. If I get caught up in a project, I’ll frequently stay late to talk to our production supervisor in Asia, or to get some things done with our warehouse in Rotterdam. Either way, international calls keep me here late sometimes.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
-When I was a camper at Windells (1990), the camp van was full, so I hopped into Tims personal BULA minivan to get up to the mountain. I felt cool riding up with Tim, but then we ran outta gas about 1/2 way up and it was even cooler because I got to hitch-hike for the first time!
-Shaking Steve Caballero’s hand
-Watching a washed up pro start selling spray painted stencil T-shirts and build it into a brand worth millions (Matt Kass – Grenade).
-Watching Shawn White grow up over the course of 10 summers…literally, it was an incredible evolution of an individual.
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?
John: Global warming aint no joke. Ditch your sled, park your heli, ride the bus and start earning your turns.
What the masses know about snowboarding is mostly what they gleen from the Olympics and TV. It is “world-class” snowboarding for certain, but it is intangible for an average kid. The training facilities and equipment required to learn these technical and high-risk tricks are exclusive, expensive and un-sustainable. “The Industry” needs to make snowboarding more accessible, affordable and tangible for all ages/economic levels if we want to increase participation and retention. I’d like to see some indoor facilities in the US to provide consistently good quality halfpipes and jumps that don’t require hundreds of diesel hours to push with a cat. If they can be reached by public transportation and be open even when we have a shitty snow-year, it’ll be great for the snow community.
Lastly, I would like to see the government put a moratorium on frivolous lawsuits against ski-areas and government agencies for ski/snowboard related accidents. It’s ridiculous that anyone can sue a ski-area when they get hurt in a terrain park and that out of bounds travel is restricted for fear of litigation. Americans need to take more personal responsibility for our actions.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
John: Experience. I have watched plenty of un-educated snowboarders turn ideas into million dollar brands.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
John: Take every opportunity you get to be involved in ANY aspect of the industry, work hard, stay in touch and loyal to those that have helped you. What goes around comes around.