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King of the Mountain

He didn't let big companies snow on his parade.
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This story appears in the September 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »
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Giant snowboard companies sponsor hot boarders to be the face for their marketing campaigns. For Sean Martin, founder and president of Donek Snowboards Inc. in Watkins, Colorado, his operation had no way to compete until he sponsored a boarder headed for the Olympics.

Martin knew sponsorship would be a win-win situation. "I can get a world-class athlete and develop a product for him without a lot of money, " says Martin, 33. After learning of Olympic hopeful Pete Thorndike's dissatisfaction with his equipment, Martin offered a sponsorship and modified each board himself until Thorndike found the perfect ride.

Now sponsoring many riders, Donek has been picked up by a Korean distributor. But Martin shuns mass production, creating just 300 boards in 2001. "I don't need to be the next Burton," he says. Martin expects winter 2002-2003 sales to hit $200,000. As word of his craftsmanship spreads internationally, Martin's commitment to superior snowboards will surely guarantee another win-win situation.

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Edition: May 2017

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