Peru man aims to lift snowboarding biz to new heights
PERU — Jesse Loomis builds snowboards that connect his past to his present in a little shop next to his home.
After close to a lifetime of riding the slopes of Vermont, Loomis would like to expand his effort, but he needs a little financial help to make it happen. He has launched a Kickstarter page to try to raise enough money to build new presses, allowing his fledgling company to grow.
Founded in 2009, PowderJet Snowboards is a brand that honors its roots. A video posted to his Kickstarter page shows Loomis talking about the beginning days of riding with local friends, mixing video shot in those early days with current video of Loomis riding his custom-built boards on local slopes.
As Loomis sees it, PowderJet ties the roots of the sport today's riders.
"Our focus has always been on the lifestyle and the soul of the sport that we've been doing with our friends for our whole entire lives," Loomis writes on the Kickstarter page.
The fundraising would allow Loomis to create five new molds for his pneumatic snowboard press. That would allow him to add several new shapes with different sidecuts and widths.
"What I'm trying to do with the Kickstarter is to get some new molds made," Loomis said. "I haven't upgraded the molds in a few years."
But with PowderJet being run out of a shop at his house, Loomis doesn't want to borrow money or search for an investor.
The board already come with 13 different nose and tail options providing customers the chance to customize their board in a dizzying array of combinations.
Loomis has experience in the snowboard world beyond that as a rider. He worked for a snowboarding magazine in California for a couple of years and worked for Burton for a while.
But the idea of building snowboards really didn't hit him until about 10 years ago.
"I didn't really occur to me to start building boards until about 2008," Loomis said.
Friends he had grown up riding with at Bromley got involved in building surfboards in Maine. He worked with those guys for a while helping them out.
After living and working in Maine for a bit, Loomis and his family moved back to Vermont three years ago.
Loomis, 45, his wife Zoe and three children, Oscar, 18, Simon, 15, and Cecily, 11, moved back and chose to live in Peru so the kids could attend Burr and Burton Academy.
That brought him back to his home mountain.
As he talked, Loomis pulled out a couple of boards he built in collaboration with his friend Scott Lenhardt, a graphic artist from Rupert. The hand-painted snowboards are clearly special to Loomis.
It was Lenhardt who helped Loomis name his company based on Loomis' nickname from his youth — Jet.
"When I first told my friend, Scott, I wanted to build snowboards for riding in powder, he was busting on me and he said, 'What are you going to call it, Powderjet?'" Loomis said with a laugh. "It turns out, yes."
The earliest boards were all powder boards, but today the company makes all mountain boards and others.
"They're pretty versatile," he said.
The Kickstarter page offers a variety of options, from a $5 gift that will earn the donor a sticker to the high end of $895, for which Loomis will make you a custom board with a variety of choices of size, shape, nose, tail, graphics and more.
There are also build-your-own snowboard classes in which Loomis will help a person through a two-day build.
The next class is in February and there are still spaces available.
The Kickstarter can be found at: http://kck.st/2QVGHHn
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