Industry Profile: evo Founder Bryce Phillips
14 Jul, 2011
Job Title: Founder
Years on snow: about 20
Days on snow: 50-70 depending on the year
Currently Riding: K2 Pontoons (yes, two snowboards)
Currently I am: Looking out at the Olympics getting some work done on a Sunday evening
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Bryce: I started evo just about 10 years ago out of my apartment while living between Whistler and Seattle. It’s all gone by pretty fast while building evo, chasing a ski career, recently starting a family and having the good fortune to do what I love with a lot of great people along the way.
Shay: How has snowboarding changed your life?
Bryce: If it wasn’t for snowboarding, I may not have met my wife! She’s a great rider and I’m not so great but we met through evo which I started so that I could figure out how to buy lift tickets and travel and she joined because of her love for the sport.
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
Bryce: My entry into the industry came from a couple of different directions. I started skiing for K2 while living in Whistler somewhere around 12 years ago and then launched evo shortly after. Originally evo was only on the web until we opened our store in Seattle in 2005. We went from shipping and storing gear in my garage to having a “real” office, then a distribution center, then a store so definitely quite a ride. Skiing professionally and starting evo has collided in lots of ways that has helped the business because of the relationships formed. evo exists because of the passion for skiing and snowboarding, not because selling gear was a way to simply make money and I think that’s pretty transparent when you meet people that work here.
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
Bryce: I’ve always been buying and selling stuff since I was a kid so that was probably the most influential “previous education” but I did study finance and believe that traveling has really helped shape different elements of the evo brand.
Shay: Tell us about your role at evo and a description of the work you do?
Bryce: I work closely with our CEO Atsuko Tamura and enjoy teaming up with with different departments on different projects. I realize that it sounds (and is) a bit tough to pin down but I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with marketing, merchandising, the store and help shape the larger strategy that will get us to where we see the potential for evo in the market. I’m especially excited about working with the various teams to make sure that we are differentiating evo at every touchpoint and will be really involved when we open up more stores down the road. I’m not putting as much time into it right now but in the past I’ve also worked a lot on the financing of the company (aka identifying and meeting with the investors that are right for the company).
Shay: What’s an average day like at work for you?
Bryce: That’s an impossible to answer question for me. I have a lot of irons in the fire and love being able to get involved in a range of projects. I also love to ski, kitesurf, mt bike, spend time with my wife, travel the list goes on so it’s always a balancing act.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Bryce: A lot of my favorite memories have been on the hill with people that I work with both at evo and others that we work with throughout the industry. I’ve had endless “best days ever” with so many people in so many places. Outside of on the hill memories, it’s been quite an experience establishing really strong, trusted relationships with all of the major vendors. In this industry, it really boils down to relationships and executing on what you say you are going to do. Early on, it took some time for people to see first hand what we were capable of and we have a long way to go but I think that over time we’ve been able to deliver while truly balancing business and our focus on having fun along the way with great partners.
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?
Bryce: A year ago I would have said “pricing” and the extreme discounting that was going on at the time but so much has changed as the playing field has been cleared to some extent. I think that it’s extremely important for retailers both store and web to be able to create great experiences for their customer and spread the passion that they have for the sports. There are some pretty watered down experiences out there and because retail is such an influential point of contact with the customer, it’s will remain a challenge to create strong relationships with the customer. If they aren’t inspired to hit the hill than we all have a problem.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Bryce: I feel like they are one in the same. I received my best education from my experiences. Specific to school, I’d still say go for both.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Bryce: Get a great internship and press hard to work with companies that you love and you believe share the same values as you do. It’s not just about selling a lot of gear.
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