The ReddyYeti Podcast Episode 4: Char Ski Poles - Film. Fix. Function - Founder Alex Carr Sharing His Story

Char Poles

 

Extra gear weighing you down and bulking up your pack on the slopes?

Char Poles gives you the tools you need to succeed at your fingertips.

To find out more about where the idea of Char Poles came from, Josh interviews Char Poles founder Alex Carr to find out more about how his company is taking the ski/snowboard industry by storm and innovating a piece of equipment that has been long overdue for an overhaul.

 

More about the episode…

 

Josh chats with Char Poles founder, Alex Carr. Char poles is a pole manufacturer that was created when Carr was touring in the backcountry and was in dire need of a screwdriver to adjust his bindings to fit his boots. While hiking back down he realized the potential his ski poles had for storing basic, but dire tools needed for skiing, particularly screwdrivers. Shortly after, he got to work on prototypes and eventually shaped his vision into the utility pole brand, Char Poles.

 

As the sport progressed and filming became a more dynamic factor in the sport, Alex added gopro/action cam attachments to his pole, which can be fully integrated into a monopod. Char Poles is still working to perfect their poles and make sure every nook and cranny of their ski poles is the epitome of optimal functionality.

 

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Char Poles Highlights: 

EPISODE SHOW NOTES:

  • How did the idea for your business come about and how did you get started? [01:15]

    • “Char Poles was an idea i’d been tinkering with for a while. I knew ski poles haven't really been innovated for quite some time because I’ve been a skier since I was five years old.”

    • “One day I was hiking in the utah backcountry ... after about 2 and a half hours of hiking up there, boot packing… I got to the top and realized my boots didn’t fit my bindings…”

    • “I remember staring at my ski poles, thinking ‘Those ski poles are hollow I know there hallow; all the way through and through, there's no reason I couldn’t put a screwdriver in there.’ From there I started chopping up ski poles and making prototypes.

  • Where did the inspiration of Char Poles come from [03:15]

    • Alex talks about how growing up in a skiing community cultivated his obsession with skiing. While working in the industry as a lift operations supervisor he noticed that people would approach him for emergency repairs. Being an industrious youngster couple with his passion with skiing, Alex found it easy to find the motivation to find a more practical way to carry tools.

      • “I was a lift operations supervisor at the canyons resort ... I realized that everybody else had the same problem. Every time someone had a problem and needed a screwdriver they’d come find me. “

  • What is your background with skiing? [05:43]

    • “I’m originally from Salt Lake, I grew up downtown… I took my first laps at Brighton… All throughout junior high and highschool I was at Alta, I did some Snowbird.”

    • “I mostly did big mountain because, it was during a time that freeskiing really wasn’t what it is today yet. So me and my buddies would go build giant kickers at Alta, you know, and throw our cork 9’s, and sometimes we’d land them and be so stoked…”

  • Did you go to school in Utah? [07:16]

    • “I went to highschool in West High, really diverse school wouldn’t have it any other way. I actually, still attend the University of Utah, and I also co-teach some entrepreneurship and strategy classes there, and I TA an intellectual property class there.”

  • What drives Char Poles? [11:30]

    • “It’s creative passion that keeps us going here; the thrill for innovation, doing something different. We really try to stay outside the mold when it comes to what we do…”

  • How did you develop Char Poles’ product, how many iterations would you say you go through? [12:50]

    • “We prototype until it’s solid. For one product that could be three iterations, for another product that could be 100, and we have done 100 iterations on a couple products, so I say that in all reality.”

  • What is something unique that no one really knows about you, one of your products, or Char Poles? [14:49]

    • “People tend to think that Char Poles is bigger than it is. I do most of the work day to day; I’ve got a couple people that help me out and I contract quite a bit of work out, but it’s a very small start up.”

    • “I prototype every single day, and I design products every single day. One of the thing people really don’t understand is how much true thought goes into every Char Poles’ products…”

  • What’s Char Poles’ yearly production? [17:24]

    • “Yearly production so far has been through another supply, we haven’t made as much as we wanted but last year we made and sold like 2,400 poles…”

  • What is Char Poles’ commitment to sustainability [18:23]

    • “I work with the Utah state government, and they have some funding that they’ve given us to continue our sustainable manufacturing. Our new handle has an incorporated flask involved, so there’s a lot of due diligence that goes into finding the right plastic material for that component…”

  • What kind of culture exists for Char Poles? [19:32]

    • “Most of all it’s creatives. When I have a task I need done, I don’t have time to put together a super detail mock up of the website for our software engineer. I just say ‘Dude, you grew up in the ski industry, you’re a skier, you know what skiers want. Go for it…’”

  • What’s been the hardest part about starting Char Poles? [21:06]

    • “For me it’s been manufacturing, now we’ve got it under our belt but, for the longest time I was losing sleep because I was staying up all night clashing with our factories in China…”

  • What would you say your greatest fear is in regards to Char Poles? [23:57]

    • “My biggest fear is always letting people down and I do everything in my power to make sure I don’t…”

  • What advice would you give someone that wanted to start a business in action sports? [24:29]

    • “The biggest thing is doing due diligence. Make sure you’re not wasting your time. Storyboard out your business model and make sure it’s achievable…”

  • Where do you see Char Poles in the next year, five years, ten years? [26:18]

    • “Lots of growth lot’s of new product...we’re in discussions right now with distributors in 18 different countries… with our manufacturing now here [USA] we’ll be doing some hefty volumes and hopefully making an impact in the ski industry…”

  • What would you say the best part about running Char Poles is? [28:08]

    • “The industry. I like being creative, I get bored really fast. And so, it’s fun for me to be able to do so many different things my own way but, also have a fresh cycle of new things every single week…”