*Snowboarders Only*

You do not need to know much about snowboarding to know about the Burton brand. Burton is a snowboarding company that was started in 1977 by Jake Burton Carpenter. He did not create snowboarding but he might as well of since he was able to build up a company that is nearly the face of the sport itself. Over the years Burton successfully made snowboarding something more than just a sport, but rather a lifestyle. The company was able to blossom into what it is today by living true to that idea.

The sport of snowboarding has grown a lot in recent years but with the increase in popularity comes an increase in competition as well. Burton has been able to remain at the top of this industry because of superb managerial decisions. The company itself has a number of family brands within the same industry which makes it the largest and, according to many shredders, the most powerful. Making sure that all of these brands are heading in the right direction puts a lot of stress on management.

Just last year, the company announced a realignment plan that would better position Burton, all its family brands, and its stake holders for the future. Burton has grown an immense amount and is continuing to experience great income growth from year to year but the founder, Jake Burton Carpenter, felt as if the company was losing focus on what would lead to long term success. He commented on the big plan by saying that the company needs to “narrow [its] focus to the sport and lifestyle that got us here – snowboarding.”

Well that seems simple enough. It should be easy for a snowboarding company to be focused on snowboarding. With that being said, the economy can be very manipulative. The economy forced Burton outside of its realm of snowboarding and that is where I believe they lost focus. The big realignment plan actually is very simple but that does not mean that it will be an easy task. The company is simply just returning to its roots, a snowboarding company built by snowboarders, for snowboarders. So with this, Burton has demonstrated their new focus with substantial investments in infrastructure and Burton Headquarters. The purchase of a huge building next to its headquarters in Vermont is now home to a new research and development facility and a wholesale showroom. This structure is known as “the most advanced and sophisticated snowboard prototype facility in the world.” This allows the company to keep with the new focus and also stay ahead of the competition by creating and testing new snowboarding technologies.

I will now leave you with some questions to think about.

Is it a good decision to pull back from branching out into other industries even if the a company is doing well in those areas?

If you are unfamiliar with snowboarding, how do you feel about a company that has such a narrow customer focus despite being so large.

Lastly, are there any companies that have lost their reputation(or flourished) by expanding into other industries?




10 thoughts on “*Snowboarders Only*

  1. This post focuses on an issue that can be seen in companies all over the world in this fay and age. What started out as a company set on delivering the “snowboarding lifestyle” to its target market has been morphed by the growth and changes in consumer needs. When expansion and popularity set into a company, trying to remain attached to your consumers without shifting your ideas can be tricky. The direction in which a company combats this situation is ultimately up to the highest stakeholders. Do you potentially lose clientele by staying true to your initial ideology or do you conform to societies needs and in turn lose what made your company what it is today?

  2. Wonderful post, I agree with your thoughts on how Burton has nearly become the face of the sport snowboarding. My first board was a Burton and I have not switched to any other brand since. I think it is good that the company has a narrow customer focus because although it is narrow, there are still millions of people who snowboard every winter. The audience is large enough that you don’t need to go out of the sport that they specialize in, but because the brand is so big branching out to other industries wouldn’t be a bad idea since they can afford it, but maybe branching out to industries on a similar winter style to keep the theme flowing, so the company won’t lose its reputation by too much expansion.

  3. I think Burton is following the “don’t fix it if it isn’t broken” theory. I think it’s better that Burton only focus on snowboarding. Instead of trying their hand at different markets with products that they are not familiar with or comfortable with, they should focus on what they know and being the innovators within the snowboarding industry. There is also a lot of money tied up with exploring new markets and developing new products. Also, there are a lot of competitors in these markets and trying to break into those markets with products that might not be as competitive could be incredibly difficult. Instead, Burton should focus on improving their already top of the line products they have now. I think their new headquarters and research and development facility will really innovate the market of snowboards and snowboarding in general. There are only good things to come from this.

  4. This is a very interesting post. I am very familiar with the company since all the snowboarding equipment I own is from them. I think it is better that Burton focuses on snowboarding and does not branch out into other industries. So far they have been very profitable and are meeting their customer needs. Sometimes making quality products that have a narrow focus and target market can help the company in the long run. As long as they develop new ideas and have a innovative outlook for the future,which they are clearly doing by opening these new research facilities, than they will be a company that will remain strong in many years to come.

  5. I found your post very intriguing. Although I am very unfamiliar with snowboarding, I think Burton is making a bold move by pulling back from branching out into other industries. Burton should keep its attention on making what they do best, snowboards. Instead of expanding Burton should focus its attention on making better snowboards.

  6. Very interesting blog post. Even thought I’m not familiar with snowboarding I’m not off put my Burton having such a narrow focus. I think companies should focus on what they do best. Focusing on snowboarding is how they got to become such a large company and in my opinion is how they will stay a big company. I also think it’s a good thing for the consumer. The consumer can continue to expect quality products. If I ever decide to get into snowboarding I’ll now which company to get my products from.

  7. I think, you have touched on a very important issue. There are a lot of examples of companies who were very successful and tried to shift their production onto variety of product to increase their profit. However, at times this is not a smart move. Companies like Burton have established themselves as an organization that focus on delivering high quality of products. That is something what we as customers expect from these type of companies: high quality. Unfortunately, most businesses forget that aspect. One of the main reasons sales and profit go down in companies is for over reaching and not paying attention to their customers. I must say that Burton’s method is a great approach. By going back to their roots and expanding on their quality service. I have never snowboarded, but I like Burton’s clothing line. I think the brand was and still is very successful because of the continuance of incredible classy fashion styles, the creativity of the wardrobe, and last but not least they know how to make products long lasting.

  8. You have came to a very interesting issue with the goal of a company. The traditional thought process was that growth every year is necessary. However, from what i’m seeing with many smaller start ups and even some medium sized companies is that infinite growth is not necessarily the end all be all for a company anymore. This is a perfect example. A company consolidating its size and specializing in a specific area to focus on quality and their product. Maybe the company will make a few dollars less at the end of the day but their product and in turn the customers will thank them for it. Stake holders might see smaller profits but, the product, quality, longevity of the company, and the moral implications for being a massive wasteful company all outweigh profits in my opinion. I think that in the future we will see more companies forgoing profit for things like sustainability, quality, and specialization. Passion knows no dollars.

  9. I feel like companies that pull out from branching out into other industries even if they’re good in that area want to focus more on the brand name and the idea that they had when they started the company. I’ve heard of some negative news regarding companies that would rather focus on the image of the company they promote to consumers like Abercrombie and Fitch keeping their sizes small because they only wanted girls of a certain body type to be wearing their clothing. This post reminded me of another article I read regarding social responsibility. This is another example of how companies should put more focus on social issues as well.

  10. As someone who doesn’t know much about snowboarding, I think that the moves that Burton is making towards its expansion is a natural progression. And it would seem that if you have profitable expansions it is logical to keep them in business to maximize profits. However, I think that it is admirable to keep to your key demographic and not want to alienate the customers that made the company what it is day. I think that in the end the company will have to look at the tradeoffs and see if it is possible for the company to have a narrow focus and maintain their expanded network successfully.

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