Three weeks ago, we ventured out to Burlington to visit the legendary Burton Snowboards Headquarters. This playground for adults is insanely impressive and on the next level of everything you can think of. Love and passion for snowboarding is oozing from every corner. No wonder why Burton has been making some of the best products in the game for the past 40+ years!
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that Burton invented snowboarding, or at least the culture around it. Dive into snowboarding’s past, present and future! Follow our team and Burton’s staff Archivist Todd Kohlman through a visit of one of the craziest HQ there is.
PHOTOS: RYAN LEBEL
“You need to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going”
As soon as we entered the mythical Burton Museum also called “The Barn”, a room that contains the most epic snowboarding memorabilia from the brand’s early years, we could feel that history is at the center of everything Burton does. Meaning that Burton uses its past to create today and tomorrow’s greatest products.
Outerwear, snowboarding gear, clothing… all conceived following Burton’s rich history, but with added modern technology. Take the Burton Custom Board for example. The Custom is a model that was there in the early years and that comes back every year, but better. It changed and got upgraded season after season, but the Custom is still built following the brand’s original recipe and is still a fan favorite to this day.
After seeing some of the first boards, bindings, boots and outerwear Burton made a few decades ago and experiencing the evolution of the brand through its past, it was time for us to explore Craig’s Facility, a place named in honor of snowboard pioneer and Burton’s close friend Craig Kelly. A place where actual snowboards are being built by hand every day.
Even if the Burton we all know is a huge success story, the vibe at Craig’s makes you feel like it’s still a small independent brand. After just a few second in there, you can already tell that every single person in the building loves snowboarding. Everyone in Craig’s Facility is smiling, listening to good music and enjoying their day while building snowboards from scratch with extreme attention to details.
This place, just like the brand’s products, will make you feel good. There’s boards, gear and prototypes everywhere around us. Snowboard making machines of all kinds are lying in every corner of the place. Fun fact: Did you know that most of the machines used at Burton’s were actually developed by the brand and customized for its most precise needs. Meaning that the brand’s employees invented a lot of the technology that we saw in there. That includes the famous Infinite Ride machine, breaking in the boards and giving them a nice flex even before you get to try them.
Customization is in fact a big part of Burton’s approach. They even customized a board for us. That’s right! The Hometown Hero board, designed by master snowboarder and Burton product developer Scott Stewart, was made exclusively for our harsh East Coast Winters. Icy conditions, pow or groomers, this one is a must for our heavy and unstable Quebec Winters.
The 3D printing room
Right after we were done visiting Craig’s Facility, we were sent to meet the people behind Burton’s latest baby, the 3D printing technology. The machines we saw in there are next level! These expensive puppies basically allow the team to print whatever they want. You can print new binding parts one day and test them on the slopes the next day! Crazy, right?
After learning that the latest Step-On prototype was basically printed out of a machine, we can safely say that Burton is on top when it comes to technology. Just like the people in Craig’s Facility, the 3D printing crew is also made of real snowboarders. Snowboarders with Engineering degrees. That’s what’s up!
Even before going there, we already knew that Burton was one of the most ecologically involved company in the snowboard business, but we really got to understand what it was all about after our lunch break. To see how much goes into this was some kind of reality check for a lot of us, but it was great to actually have a real-life experience of what we’ve been reading and hearing about Burton’s sustainability efforts.
After taking a good 10 minutes to sort the recyclable materials, the compost and the thrash out of our dirty food containers, we started to realize that we don’t put enough efforts into that kind of stuff at home… The Burton HQ visit made us remember the importance of it. There’s so much efforts deployed on the daily that it can be a little overwhelming at first, but that’s the whole point. Burton is simply not joking around when it comes to making a difference for our planet.
The design room
After our lunch break, we were transported to the main design space. A place filled with happy (just like everywhere at the HQ) and creative people as well as a huge amount of never seen before products. Luckily for us, we were welcomed in the forbidden room with open arms. Hyped we got to see all the sick boards that are planned for next year. We can’t say too much about them, but you’ll see soon enough.
On this note of awesomeness, we left the building and went straight for a heated skate session in Burton’s backyard bowl. There’s no good visit at Burton without a nice skate sess to sink in all the info we received that day.
On our drive back to Montreal, we realized why and how Burton became the great company we know today. THE BRAND KEPT IT REAL FROM DAY 1!