During ski/snowboard season, Brittan Ellingson can jump on a snowmobile at his house in Whitefish, Montana and be in three feet of powder in just about 20 minutes. How could that possibly get any better? It’s part of his job description as co-founder of Notice Snowboards.
Notice Snowboards is a relatively new company, but co-founders Brittan and Lauren Ellingson have deep roots both in adventure sports and in Big Sky Country. Lauren was born in Billings and raised in Whitefish - just minutes from Whitefish Mountain Resort and the endless peaks of Glacier National Park. Brittan was born in Great Falls, and although he spent most of his childhood in Colorado, made frequent visits to his grandparent’s home on Whitefish Lake to enjoy northwestern Montana’s wild places and recreational opportunities. The two share a love for high peaks and big adventures and began seeking places to live and job opportunities that provided access to both as soon as they could. Lauren moved back to Whitefish upon graduating from Colorado State University; Brittan moved to Jackson, Wyoming to work as an Editor’s Assistant for Teton Gravity Research, one of the biggest names in ski films today - but it wasn’t long before his love for Montana drew him back to Whitefish.
The two met, got married, and had their son Jett in Whitefish, but found themselves traveling more often than they liked for their jobs in the oil and gas industry. That’s when a serendipitous opportunity, and their entrepreneurial instincts, set the stage for Notice Snowboards’ inception, according to Lauren:
“Brittan really wanted to get back to his roots working in adventure sports, so he applied for an internship with Never Summer Snowboards out of Denver. We thought he’d work in marketing or sales, but the only position they had available was in the warranty repairs department. He took it, and really loved working with the boards and raw materials.”
Brittan also admits the two were counting the days until they could return to Whitefish during his time with Never Summer: “It was an awesome opportunity. But, Whitefish is where our hearts are - this is where we want to raise our son.”
Shortly after returning to Whitefish, the pair combined Brittan’s newly acquired snowboard making skills with Lauren’s marketing and business experience to start Notice Snowboards in June 2012.
“Between Whitefish Mountain Resort and the endless backcountry options that surround us, the opportunity to test and refine our designs is always there. We can spend half a day making a board, and the rest of the day making sure it lives up to our quality standards..”
It takes about 20 hours of hands-on time from start to finish to craft one of Notice’s custom boards. When he’s not shaping or applying the graphics created by local artist Dresu Rhodes, Brittain is always looking for cutting-edge materials and designs that will make his boards lighter, faster, and stronger. He’s recently been experimenting with different varieties of carbon fiber and integrating innovative splitboard designs that will bring Notice into the rapid growth backcountry snowboarding market in 2014. Right now, the boards are selling primarily direct from the headquarters in Whitefish, and via direct shipping to Jackson, Whistler, and across Colorado. Though Notice’s growth has seen sales in locations throughout the West, Lauren and Brittan attribute a great deal of their success to their success to their location:
“Whitefish is really the ideal place to be doing this. The community has been incredibly supportive, and we have a constant supply of local sponsored riders and adventure athletes who are willing to test our boards, give us great feedback, and help with word-of-mouth marketing.”
Of course, it’s not all fun and games for Brittan and Lauren - there’s a lot of R&D that goes into creating a custom snowboard for discerning riders. Good thing Notice has access to some of the world’s top testing facilities:
“Between Whitefish Mountain Resort and the endless backcountry options that surround us, the opportunity to test and refine our designs is always there. We can spend half a day making a board, and the rest of the day making sure it lives up to our quality standards.”
Okay, maybe it’s mostly fun for the co-founders of Notice Snowboards. That’s just one of the side benefits of following your dreams and entrepreneurial instincts in Montana.