So why should you care that a new ski/snowboard brand just opened its doors in Squamish? Well, it’s not just some kid making boards in his parents’ garage. Although that is where Jason Broz, the man behind KNWN Manufacturing, actually got his start.
But that was in 1995. Since then, he’s honed his craft steadily and built it into a full-blown career that’s seen him start three brands and work as consultant for both Endeavour snowboards and G3 Genuine Guide Gear.
In the early days, he developed a working relationship with an alpine racer from the US Snowboard Team named Anton Pogue.
“I started building boards for him and he started winning world cup events,” explains Broz.
That kind of athlete/builder relationship seems more common in surfing than it does in snowsports. But it’s that kind of dynamic that Broz wants to bring to KNWN.
“I want it to be customizable, high end stuff. I really don’t want to mass-produce anything out of this facility. Not just because of space restraints, but also because I don’t have any interest in that.
I want to produce really unique, cool products that change and people can affect that change. So if people come in and want a certain shape or a certain flex, I can fine tune it.”
Located in The Business Park off of Commercial Way, Jason’s 2770 sq. ft. facility is certainly a few notches up from his parents’ garage in North Van. The factory, which takes up the majority of the space, is a state-of-the-art working environment complete with all the necessary equipment and materials to create skis, snowboards and splitboards.
There’s an office on the second floor which oversees the whole operation and there’s a shopfront where you can check out the line and get a sense of the brand’s unique personality. The vibe is very British Columbian, with pictures of snow-laden trees, old-school Volvos and iconic local peaks. The line itself is very British Columbian as well.
“All the products that I’m making here at this facility are designed for BC riding, whether it’s the splitboards or the powder boards or the skis,” says Broz. “It’s definitely tailored towards big mountain riding and deeper snow.”
While some of the larger brands in snow sports shy away from producing both skis and snowboards, Jason has a different outlook.
“KNWN is a more mature brand; I’m not going after the young demographic. This is for people who know what they want. KNWN is for someone who appreciates something that’s handcrafted and locally produced.”
While Broz was working for Pogue and the US Snowboard Team, he also managed to obtain a business degree at Capilano College. He actually has a partner in the US who’s taking care of a lot of the financial side of KNWN. But Broz is a lot more than a guy who just knows how to build snowboards.
“The whole thing with this business is trying to do something that’s not only locally produced but also a better way of running a business,” he says. “I use bio-resins, I use environmentally-friendly printing methods. Most of my materials are sourced locally. My wood cores come from Quebec because that’s where the best aspen comes from. But I try to use as many Canadian materials as possible.”
Jason’s humble, to be sure. And he’s super approachable. But you can tell just by walking into his space that he’s got something worthwhile to offer skiing, snowboarding and splitboarding. So why should you care about the new brand that just opened in Squamish?
“I want it be more than a brand that’s just trying to sell you a product and get rid of you,” says Broz. “I want people to be involved.”