The spring issue of Off-Piste included an article on the handmade or boutique ski movement by Don Pattison. The article looks at the current growth of small ski manufacturers, and it looks at a few of the higher profile operations. You can check out the handmade ski article here.
While researching the piece, Pattison spoke with Mike Hattrup from K2 Skis. As one of the biggest players in the ski market, K2 is far from a boutique manufacturer, but Hattrup defended the large scale manufacturer position with the the idea that no small producer can match the testing and R&D that a company like K2 has at its disposal. Hattrup then went on to say that we should check out the K2 testing and prototype factory up in Seattle sometime.
Well, it took a couple months to fit it in the schedule, but Pattison and I took a tour of the K2 facility this spring with K2 ski engineer Ken Schiele. The factory was a mix of testing equipment, ski tooling equipment and K2 ski and snowboard museum. It was good fun and K2 does have an impressive set-up for manufacturing and testing skis. And yes, it is hard to imaging that a small "garage" set-up can match what K2 can bring to the table. Here are a few images of the factory . . .