K2. The ARC Collection. Made in the USA

D. Trenker

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I think you're kidding yourselves if you think K2 will be bringing scale production back to US and selling product at the everyman price. I can see why this PR is something that might make you hope for that and K2 are unlikely to correct you on that but don't lose sight of the fact that the world has moved on.

Still the PR has had its intended impact it's got everyone nice and nostalgic about how awesome K2 skis used to be so maybe people won't yawn and walk past them on the rack next time.
So we shouldn't get our hopes up for the Return of the Cheeseburger?
 

Wasatchman

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I think you're kidding yourselves if you think K2 will be bringing scale production back to US and selling product at the everyman price. I can see why this PR is something that might make you hope for that and K2 are unlikely to correct you on that but don't lose sight of the fact that the world has moved on.

Still the PR has had its intended impact it's got everyone nice and nostalgic about how awesome K2 skis used to be so maybe people won't yawn and walk past them on the rack next time.
Interesting point.

If it is a purely a PR stunt rather than perhaps also a test case then I see potential it could backfire a bit. Why? Because this PR stunt reinforces a "premium" image for USA made goods and connotations of higher associated quality with domestic production versus China. Hence an unintended effect may be ah, I those are the shitty mass produced k2's in china rather than the positive feelings of nostalgia you mention.

For the sake of K2, I hope it is more than PR. But who knows and I see where you may be right.
 
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fatbob

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I think we covered what we'd all do with K2 a couple of years back and obviously there were a number of different viewpoints. Mine was broadly - decide what the brand is focus the range and don't try to compete with stablemates Line and Völkl.

So if this is that focus, and remember at the moment its a bit of fluff probably only seen by hardcore ski nerds and nostalgists, at least they are trying something. In some ways it's a low risk option - you already have r&d skis being made there so you've simply added a very limited amount of production and then get to make a song and dance about it. But I struggle to believe Kohlberg is going to go all in on small batch artisan USA made premium skis. Maybe I'm wrong and the brand bifurcates with a USA brand or sub brand (K2 AFY! ?) ( hint watch Team America) and the mass stuff for Asia and other international markets.
 

markojp

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Lot's of cynical and negative stuff being tossed around here, and this is from someone (me) who thinks the MB'ers/Disrupters are much much better than what's been in the K2 production pipeline for years, but still won't buy skis ( and as little else as I possibly can) made in China.
 
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fatbob

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Lot's of cynical and negative stuff being tossed around here, and this is from someone (me) who thinks the MB'ers/Disrupters are much much better than what's been in the K2 production pipeline for years, but still won't buy skis ( and as little else as I possibly can) made in China.
But you're being just as cynical in your own way with your "won't buy made in China". Not much good praising the skis with that BUT hanging over them. Are your principles such that you'd rather lay out the full retail on one of the artisan made in US runs to get on that ski or buy another good ski made in US/Yurp ski at lower price?

It's good it's getting to the heart of the problem K2 has. Is it that they lost their core brand attribute/value when they dropped Made in USA? Or is it that they lost the buzz with a decade of meh skis? Or that their market is really boomers who remember the Mahres and VO Unlimiteds etc and are fast aging out of skiing? Or something else - like no longer as attractive when a far greater of other brands are accessible in the market? For different consumers the answer will be different.
 

Tom K.

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Or that their market is really boomers who remember the Mahres and VO Unlimiteds etc and are fast aging out of skiing?
Hold on there a minute buckaroo!

I resemble the first half of that question..........but am ready to throw down over the second! :ogcool:
 

markojp

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But you're being just as cynical in your own way with your "won't buy made in China". Not much good praising the skis with that BUT hanging over them. Are your principles such that you'd rather lay out the full retail on one of the artisan made in US runs to get on that ski or buy another good ski made in US/Yurp ski at lower price?

It's good it's getting to the heart of the problem K2 has. Is it that they lost their core brand attribute/value when they dropped Made in USA? Or is it that they lost the buzz with a decade of meh skis? Or that their market is really boomers who remember the Mahres and VO Unlimiteds etc and are fast aging out of skiing? Or something else - like no longer as attractive when a far greater of other brands are accessible in the market? For different consumers the answer will be different.
A decision not to buy products made in China is cynical? Political maybe, but certainly not cynical. I'm just not a supporter of authoritarian rule and I'm not asking anyone to share my beliefs.
 

fatbob

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A decision not to buy products made in China is cynical? Political maybe, but certainly not cynical. I'm just not a supporter of authoritarian rule and I'm not asking anyone to share my beliefs.
You misunderstand me - If you have a hard line on something it becomes part of the package and therefore prevents a more compromised approach. Just as I might say - I really love those skis, they are best quality/performance/value I can ever imagine BUT I will never buy anything coloured green.

And from a logical perspective a $ is a $. If you buy US made K2 you are still supporting a company that does the very great majority of its manufacture in China and thus supporting authoritarian rule still. Only an outright boycott until such time as that volume is zero would staisfy the highest moral/political standard.

Or you might say that is nonsense and if you support them doing what you view as the "right" thing it is enough in rewarding/encouraging them toward "good" behaviours.

This runs across all consumer areas from veganism/sustainability/EVs/alternative energy etc - many of us try but ultimately we are lucky if we end up in the support some positive momentum camp.
 

markojp

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The color green doesn't practice genocide, nor does it have serious border disputes with its neighbors on the color wheel. Choices to buy, not to buy, etc, begin and end with the individual. Sorry there Bob... let's just leave this one the beating your head on the keyboard 'someone's wrong' on the internet gif. All that other stuff is just like our opinions, man.

:beercheer:
 

fatbob

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... let's just leave this one the beating your head on the keyboard 'someone's wrong' on the internet gif. All that other stuff is just like our opinions, man.

:beercheer:
Agree to the cheers -

I don't think you're wrong BTW. I just think whether it's cynical me with a hat on that says "hmm I'm not convinced that this isn't just marketing flim flam red white and blue-washing of the brand" or principled you with "I'm still not buying off you until you stop supporting China" K2 still aren't making the sale.
 

Ecimmortal

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The real question is which skis are better quality, the handmade skunkworks ski from the US or the same ski made in China. The next question is if they do scale production in the US can they sell the skis at a comparable cost to the ones they make in China. As I said earlier I think this great marketing that was well executed but I do not think it signals a change in their business model of mass producing skis in China.
You think selling a ski for that much just because they built 50 of them in Washington is well executed?
 

dovski

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You think selling a ski for that much just because they built 50 of them in Washington is well executed?
No I think the video and the way they told their story about the skis being designed and hand made at their ARC facility in the US was well executed. It reminds you that K2 is an American company designing and innovating in the US. So from a marketing/PR standpoint they get full marks. Hand building skis in the US was just the tactic/gimmick they used to tell the story.

Based on the fact that this seems to be the most active K2 thread I have ever seen on SkiTalk, I would argue that their marketing effort was successful. I now know more about K2 skis, production, design and history directly as a result of this. Will I buy a pair of K2s probably not, but I did look at their disruption line of skis and consider them for my new frontside carving ski which is something I never would have done last month.

So yes I think this marketing effort was well executed, but I am still going to buy a pair of Stöckli Laser AXs to fill out my quiver :)
 

Stephen Witkop

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Our first "Family" car was a Volkswagon Jetta GLI sedan, red with Sport suspension and the arm rest in the rear that you could get a ski sock for that let you pass skis through from the trunk to the back seat. I wouldn't trade that car for 2 Camrys that would probably have lasted longer and cost half as much to maintain.

I feel much the same about skis and gravitate towards damp Austrian wood core metal laminates. It's not a requirement but more of a romantic feeling about my skis and skiing. I know that many feel the same about French skis whether it has anything with how they ski or not. I buy skis that not only ski well but also that I feel some connection to and "Made in China" doesn't do it for me, especially when it's an American company that moved it's manufacturing out of the country. It just loses that "something special" feeling for me.

I know K2's Chinese factory isn't going anywhere but if they could transition it to making skis for that part of the world along with maybe kids and rental equipment while making some of their better stuff here count me in. I know labor costs more here but it's not exactly cheap to manufacture in Europe and they seem to be able to compete.
 

Alexzn

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Are these skis made like $1,000 skis? Likely not. It is a really nice PR gesture for K2, but I struggle to see what a customer gets for over a grand beside some understandable patriotic pride. There is nothing inherently prohibitively expensive about making skis here in the US, look at the Germany-made Völkls and Austria-made Blizzards and Heads, and I don't think labor costs are that much lower in Austria or Germany. It likely the volume that allows them to sell sophisticatedly-constructed skis for under $1,000 MSRP.

P.S. I am surprised why Mindbender has not changed K2's situation here in the US, as it is a very good ski.
 
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Philpug

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We saw a pair of the 106's out on the hill today. Note, these are not jsut every day Mindbenders just made in the US Skunkworks, these are custom cores and also different molds than the regular in line models.
 

BMC

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I’m not across the detail of where skis are manufactured but I do know lots of brands manufacture skis in Austria (Nordica, Blozzard, Atomic/Salomon, presumably still Fischer and Head as well, etc).

I’m all but certain labour costs are higher in Europe than in the USA.

Why is it then those brands can afford to make high quality skis in Europe, but K2 can’t in the USA. What am I missing?
 
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