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Jake Thamm - Lord of the Rockies

27-03-2016 -


We had a little talk with Jake Thamm, the president and co-founder of the Crescent Moon Snowshoe Company. His company is based in Colorado, so we can't have a doubt that he is a real expert of snow!

Golo: I assume that you didn’t start dealing with sport in the year when you created your company. So, when did you take your first steps on the field of sport? And what sports do you do nowadays (apart from snowshoeing) that can switch you off and can let you not think about the business?

Jake Thamm: ...I have been competitively involved in tennis nearly all my life;  I’ve been skiing since I was six, played soccer for 15 years indoors and out, competed in volleyball for many years, and recently took up the sport of “platform tennis”, a game played in cold weather and in my case, often at night, as a participant in the local “league” play.

Golo: Are you a Coloradoan, or moved to the place because of the natural beauty of it? 

Jake: ...all my life, grew up on the western slope of the Rockies and moved to Boulder to attend the University of Colorado, graduated, and never left this incredible town.

Golo: How come you have a close relation with the environment and the green attitude? When has this esteemed connection started?  

Jake: ...My wife and business partner, Tamara Laug, is the inspiration.  She has been a devotee of the environmental lifestyle and philosophy all her life.   She’s driven the company’s choice of materials, manufacturing processes, and recycling from the very beginning of the business.  It has been a fundamental tenet of hers/ours even before we began the company. We recycle virtually everything at our home, our office, and our factory. During the summer months, when roads are clear and the weather is warm, we ride bikes to work, or occasionally a long board.  I’ve also run to work and many of our employees ride or bus to the factory – we encourage them to do so by grilling them lunch on Wednesdays and a tradition we began a few years ago, called Beer Fridays – ostensibly, to reward ourselves for being environmentally considerate.

Golo: You are always emphasising that you and your company try to stay as green and Earth-friendly as possible. What are those ways that you have created for your (and your company’s) everyday life that have less harm to the environment.

Jake: ...while we believe it's important to do it the “right” way, I think I should emphasize our primary goal is, and has always been,  to make the “best” possible snowshoe we can – and use materials that at least do no harm to the environment in which they are used.  We didn’t really set ourselves up to be the “greenest” snowshoe manufacturer, but the “best” first, and since we believe it can be done with consideration to the world in which we live, play, and make our shoes, we just happen to be the “greenest” also.  I think we’ve proven it can be done, its more expensive, and in some ways, more difficult to do it the “green” way, but many of our customers seem to appreciate the effort and reward themselves and us with growing sales and outstanding reviews (on the quality and performance of the shoes).  The “green” thing is a by-product, but by design.

Golo: How this green attitude can be captured in your travelling and outdoor life?

Jake: ...good question. It's a challenge and we don’t have the answers, but being conscientious is probably a good start.  Its an issue we all have to tackle, from the congress to main street to the world stage.  As an individual I feel very much disempowered to make a difference of any real significance, except in the way we run our business, but as far as driving a

 

gas powered car and flying in a jet fuelled plane and renting a car etc... no, I haven’t any answers or alternatives that are practical. If we had a great rail service, like in Europe, I’d definitely use it.

Golo: Why did you pick snowshoes as a device to produce? Weren’t you satisfied with the brands that had existed on the market that time?

Jake: ...the bindings on the market were not very impressive – we believed from the very beginning we could make a better one, and we felt that the binding was, and still is, the most important part of any snowshoe – so that’s what we focused on.  Tamara Laug is a product designer and she came up with the single-pull-loop concept nearly 10 years ago and since then, nearly every one of our competitors has adopted it in some way.   We still have the best binding on the market, and we continue to evolve the design, in fact, we’re working on some pretty significant changes for next season and again, I believe we will be the leader and “best” binding on the market next season and into the future.

Golo: When and how did you build your very first snowshoe? Was it a traditional looking one made of wood?

Jake: ...not even close.  We prototyped and rigged up a tent pole we bent (the frame), tore out the upholstery of an old VW for the decking, used a timing belt for the support strap, cut out some claws from an aluminium plate and used a hand cut neoprene form to make the bindings.   They’ve changed a little since that first prototype – but believe it or not, that first shoe felt and performed better than the ones being manufactured by our competitors and lots of “testers” told us so.

Golo: Let us picture you in the heart of Colorado! The first thing that pops into my mind is that you come out from your house in the morning, jump into your snowshoes and go to your office/shop. Am I right or you use other vehicles to get to work because of the longer distance?

Jake: ...alas, I drive about a mile to our factory in an Audi.  However, when there’s snow on the ground, I go snowshoeing, just as I am planning on doing this morning – since we have about a foot of snow and right out the back door of the shop, we have a trail about 50 yards away and we’re the only ones that use it. 

Golo: What are the main destinations you usually visit as a tourist/traveller? Have you been to Europe? (If not:) Do you plan to travel to Europe?

Jake: ...I’ve been to Europe as a young man and would love to bring my family before they’re too old to want to come with their DAD..   I’d love to visit Spain, particularly Barcelona, from what I’ve read, and of course, the Alps, to ski and play in. And ride that incredible train system. I remember flying along the ground in France from Paris to the Cote d’Azure – the US needs something like that – badly.    Here in the US we vacation in the desert of Utah (bike riding), Colorado skiing, Florida tennis, Maine, NY, Chicago, and planning a trip to the Bahamas for some sun and fun.  We’ve been to Costa Rica, which made a huge impression on my kids, especially my daughter, who promises to live there as an adult, we’ve been to Mexico and Hawaii and other beach front locations but Colorado, particularly Boulder, is still my favourite.

Golo: Thank you very much, Jake, I enjoyed it, big time! I wish you great ammount of snow for the year 2012 as well to have the perfect condition for one of your favourite passions. Thank you for answering the questions and for sharing the valuable information. I wish you the best of luck for the future!


 

 

 

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