How an Australian based snowboard company got its start in Whistler and is at the cutting edge of Genuine Custom Design.

“Everything Matters” reads the banner in the Savage Banner factory. These words are fundamental to everything Simon Thorne and Kate Engler have created. While many companies define ‘custom’ by allowing customers a choice within their prescribed standard models and limited variables, what sets Savage Panda Snowboards apart from their competitors is that they are committed to in Genuine Custom, meaning that each board is created for each individual rider.

“The thing that makes us unique is we don’t have a range of production boards. We only do genuine custom boards. That is our niche and offers our riders a genuine a extension of themselves, we call it extending their DNA.” – Simone Thorne

Savage Panda’s entire business model is based on this commitment for the perfect fitting board with customer satisfaction at its heart. After researching the art of genuine custom snowboards and finding there was a huge gap in the market for a dedicated, full custom snowboard offering, Simon and Kate came across the Whistler Adventure School’s Ski/Snowboard Manufacturing Program. The Whistler Adventure School has been on the cutting edge of customization with their focus on creating gear that is tailored for the individual.

What makes Simon and Kate unique in their engagement of Whistler Adventure School is that they wanted to learn specific details about the whole customization and commercialisation process of snowboards. After speaking to the school, they came up with a customized program for these two ambitious entrepreneurs that included a full immersion therapy in snowboard manufacturing as a business.

“There was a common understanding of a goal and all of us working together to allow us to offer the whole snowboarding world something that isn’t offered anywhere else. It was so much more than building boards, it was the whole production process, and the commercialization of the snowboard manufacturing as a business which was why Whistler Adventure School created a private course just for us.” – Kate Engler.

The whole Savage Panda process can be done from anywhere in the world. It begins with a comprehensive design questionnaire that Dom Morin, one of the school’s tutors and mentors, describes as being “like sitting in the loungeroom with Savage Panda while they get to understand your snowboarding”. This in-depth questionnaire is followed up by a personalized design consultation. Once the details of the board – its structure, shape, profile, camber, rocker, ect. are sorted out, riders have another personalised artwork consultation so the ‘look’ of their board is just right. Savage Panda have a team of snowboard artists from around the world so that each rider can that offer a style of artwork that matches them perfectly. Like a valuable piece of art, each board comes with a unique serial number and every rider gets to name their board. After completion boards are referred to as individual ‘pandas’.

Savage Panda’s emergence into the marketplace has been timely. In 2017 Virgin International listed the top 5 trends for the next 5 years: personalization and having things be spoke (designed for you) being at the forefront. There was been a wave of customization and personalization across the globe.

As Kate explains, “People are tired of being homogenized as a ‘one size fits most’ approach to life. One of the best parts of our company is the feedback we get from people. Deep down all human beings no matter where you work or who your friends are, in your soul you just want to be heard and known. The process of getting to know our riders and creating a board that reflects them and is exactly what they wanted is what we do”.

With so many variables at play, it is only because of their level of commitment that Savage Panda gets it so right so often! And as this company shakes up the snowboard industry, we here at Whistler Adventure School are proud of the part we played in helping Simon and Kate bring Savage Panda Snowboards to life. Check out how they do what they do with this funky video :


Photo credit: Savage Panda Snowboards