Vail Daily Bizwatch: Father-daughter team bring Purl ski waxes to Vail Valley
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Business name: Purl.
Date opened: Purl was founded off Pearl Street in Boulder in 1999, and spent a number of years growing in Summit County. With new ownership, Purl relocated in April of this year, to our hometown of 17-plus years in Eagle County.
Owner: Family owned and operated by father/daughter duo Rich Alexander and Jill Van Slyke.
What goods or services do you provide? Purl manufactures pure, clean ski and snowboard waxes with superior speed and durability in a full range of performance-driven products. All of our waxes are biodegradable and environmentally friendly and come in both retail and bulk sizes. Purl’s waxes are widely known on the other side of the pass, so we’re excited to bring more brand awareness to the Vail Valley.
What’s new or exciting at your place? After acquiring the company in the spring, we developed and added a line of tuning accessories to complement our current line of eco-friendly waxes. We just released a hot wax iron, wax scraper, eco-scraper/sharpener and the “ultimate” speed kit packaging them all together. They’re all great additions to the product line, but we feel the eco-scraper/sharpener is unique: not only does it encourage customers to re-use their wax scrapers (by keeping scraper edges sharp), but the body is 3-D printed from plastic derived from renewable resources including sugar cane and corn starch. How cool is that? We’ve also brought in a new distributor, Montana Sports, to help us get product out to more than 200 dealers/shops throughout the U.S. and Canada.
What strategy do you use to differentiate your business from your competition?
• We’re dedicated to the environment. Considering the big environmental issues facing us today, ski wax and snowboard wax might not seem to play such an important role, but a traditional fluorinated stick of ski and snowboard wax bears more toxic potential than generally known. Additionally, wherever possible, our packaging is minimal, made from eco-friendly materials and recyclable. Purl also donates 1 percent of our profits to environmental conservation organizations.
• We’re committed to performance. “Faster than you” is not just our brand intent, it’s a promise. Purl has spent more than a decade researching alternative materials for use in our waxes.
• We keep it local. Purl works hard to support other Colorado businesses and manufacturers in the U.S.
What philosophy do you follow in dealing with your customers? Provide great service in a timely manner — while having a good time, of course.
What can your customers expect from you? At Purl wax, we move fast. From a company perspective that means continued innovation to keep our waxes forest friendly and customers skis and boards gliding “faster than you.” Our customers should expect to be proud — Purl proud — that they’re part of making a positive impact with minimal imprint on the environment.
Tell us a little about your background, education and experience: Rich’s passion for skiing began more than 60 years ago on the East Coast. He met his wife in the singles lift at Mount Mansfield, Vermont. Today, he has conquered more than 40 ski resorts in seven different countries. Sliding on snow was instilled in his two daughters and four grandchildren. Rich splits his time between winters in Avon and summers on Long Island, New York. His engineering background and love for tinkering is why he enjoys product development.
Rich’s daughter Jill, learned to ski in Stowe, Vermont, at the age of three. After leaving the east and ski racing at Cornell University, Jill moved to Avon in 2001 to experience the Rocky Mountains. Jill is a skier, a telemarker and even spent a few years snowboarding. She met her husband, Steve, the snowboarder in the family, in Vail and they now have two children to chase down the slopes. Their love of the mountains and enjoying the outdoors is true to Purl.
What is the most humorous thing that has happened at your business since you opened? We received an email from United Hemispheres Magazine asking to feature Purl wax in its November On-board Ski Gear issue. At first I thought it must be spam, but it turned out to be real — our little bars of Purl wax have been flying around “the friendly skies” in print for the last 30 days logging more mileage than we’ll have in a lifetime.
Among Vail’s volunteers, we tracked down Bob “Buckwheat” Buckley, Tony White and Brooke Franke Gagnon. They all said it was tough, that they loved it and suggested that if you try it you’ll love it too.