By Eric Peterson | Jan 26, 2015
President and founder Dave Goode has been at the SIA Snow Show every year for four decades with his innovative carbon-fiber skis and poles.
Michigan native Dave Goode was on the U.S. downhill ski team in the mid-1970s, but saw his racing career stymied by an ankle injury. The experience might not have led to Olympic gold, but it did lead to a long run making innovative ski products.
Starting with the "Racer Spacer" carrying system in 1975, Goode has been on the forefront of the industry for 40 years.
His catalog of ski accessories grew to 200 products by the end of the decade, when he recognized a market need for a better ski pole when a rental shop asked him for help. "All of their aluminum poles were bent," says Goode. He solved the problem by filling poles with polyurethane foam that kept it from kinking on impact.
In 1990, GOODE introduced the first carbon-fiber ski pole, a lighter, tougher, and thinner ski pole that was immediately a hit with racers due to lower drag. "The aluminum doesn't have the ability to bend and not break," Goode touts. "The carbon is amazingly resilient."
The company now controls about one-third of the U.S. ski pole market, and roughly half of the rental market. "We're the industry leader," says Goode. "We build more ski poles than all of the other companies combined."
In 1992, GOODE ported its success with carbon fiber into the waterskiing market. A longtime competitor himself, Goode tried out a pair or Fiberglas waterskis from Connelly. "I was beating everybody," he says. "Six weeks later, I was back to my mortal self."
He tinkered with the fiber orientation and developed a more resilient ski that was half the weight of most of its peers. Since its debut in the mid-'90s, GOODE's waterskis have been a fixture on the pro circuit. "It really took off at the tournament scene and has dominated ever since," says Goode.
GOODE moved into the snow ski market soon after waterskis, first working with Volant in Boulder, Colorado, to make carbon-fiber skis. When Volant's operation shut down in 2001, GOODE bought its ski-making equipment.
Through all of this innovation, the company was based in Michigan, but GOODE relocated to Ogden in 2004. Easy access to the Ogden Valley's three ski areas make the city a perfect fit, says Goode, and it was an easy decision. "Right away, we said, 'This is it.’"
The company's diversity makes it a survivor. "We've got a three-legged stool to stand on here," says Goode. "Poles are a substantial part of our business. In snow skis, we're a little fish in a big pond. In water skis, we're a big fish in a little pond."
Goode is quick to note that he's attended the SIA Snow Show for 41 years running as of 2015. "I wonder how many other companies are like that," he adds. "There might be a couple of others."
In this context, resiliency trumps growth. "Here I am, plugging and plodding along," says Goode. "My big goal is to be here the next year."
Challenges: Innovating with composites. "When you're pioneering something, you're leading the way," says Goode.
"You get a roll of carbon fiber and it doesn't come with directions," he adds. "There's science and a black art of designing these things."
Opportunities: New custom graphics on GOODE skis. "They're opening up some very interesting avenues," says Goode. Customers can use an online interface to personalize their skis.
Needs: "Snow is number one, economy's number two," says Goode. The economy needs to be good, "but not too good," he adds. "When it's too good, people are too busy to ski."