Contract Snowboards Factory Tour!

Posted on Thursday 22nd December, 2011 Times Viewed: 6402
Recently we headed to Bielsko-Biala in the South of Poland to hook up with the guys at Contract Snowboards and check out their Factory NBL Sport. NBL have been producing boards for some of the biggest names in snowboarding and kite boarding for the last 15 years. Contract, their own brand is fairly new on the snowboard scene, now in their third season; they have blown everyone away with their Snake Technology, high quality product, and sheer love of snowboarding. Here we get the low down from Dominika Brand Manager at Contract Snowboards.

Words- Jon yeahboards.com
Click to view full image Dominika the Brand Manager

Jon: Hi Dominika, okay a predictable one to kick off! Beer or vodka?

Dominika: You’re expecting me to say vodka, right? Well for me both drinks are good. It depends on your mood, what time you are going to start drinking, who you’re drinking with and what your plans are for the next day. Let’s just say you can over indulge with both of them.

Jon: What’s your favourite place to ride?

Dominika: I don’t think there is one perfect place. Anywhere can be perfect, when the conditions are good, the snow is good and you are with good people. The South of Poland is awesome, so many beautiful places, but unfortunately we have had a lack of snow lately. Sometimes it is hard to appreciate what you have, but my favourite place to ride is definitely our local spots; Szczyrk (try saying that after a couple of vodkas, only 20min from the factory) and Korbielow.

Jon: How did you get into the snowboard industry and what’s your role at Contract Snowboards?

Dominika: When I was 4 years old I started alpine skiing. I trained hard until 1996, but then it started to get too much. Snowboarding had just become popular and I convinced my parents to let me switch from skis to snowboard. I didn’t have any problems snowboarding because I was so used to doing winter sports. Since then I have always snowboarded just for fun.
Then years later, my friends started their own snowboard shop, organised snowboard camps and to begin with I helped them, then I started working for them. Later I became a snowboard instructor and spent winters teaching others how to snowboard. Then I heard from a friend that the factory (NBL Sport) in Bielsko-Biala was developing a new brand and after 2 years I finally got a place in the company and here I am ?

Jon: For people new to the brand tell us how it all began.

Dominika: The thing is NBL had been making snowboards for years (it made about 70,000 boards a year for the biggest snowboard company in the world for about 10 years!). Dariusz Rosiak the ‘big chief’, the first man on a snowboard in Poland, had always had ideas on how to develop the technical aspect of snowboards (Dariusz owns the factory and is a trained mechanical engineer and has a pilot’s licence!). But because he was making boards for another brand he was not allowed to make his own. Dariusz and his daughter Gosia, head of Contract Snowboards, were always really involved in snowboarding in Poland and in 2009 he was finally able to start his own project under the brand name Contract.

Jon: What is the philosophy and mission behind Contract Snowboards?

Dominika: Our philosophy is to keep snowboarding fun and close to its roots. Also Contract prides itself on creating some of the highest quality snowboards on the market with some of the most innovative technology. But, snowboarding isn’t just about gear, it’s about people, that’s why Contract believes snowboarding and vodka should be available to everybody?. As an independent brand Contract is committed to investing in grassroots snowboarding, whether that be flowing kit to local rippers or supporting core rider-run events.

Jon: Contract Snowboards are made in Poland; tell us about the snowboard scene in Poland.

Dominika: The snowboard scene in Poland is pretty interesting. We have a group of snowboarders who started to ride when it all began and are still active in the sport now. We have names like Jagna Marczulajitis; she started competing in 1995 and competed in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Many of the first snowboarders in Poland are still strongly connected to the sport; they may have their own brand, shop or are involved in putting on snowboard events.
Nowadays we also have some strong names in the snowboard world: Paulina Ligocka – half-pipe, Kasia Rusin, Diana Sadlowski, but the best known Polish rider is Wojtek Pawlusiak who is invited to the biggest snowboard events in the world.

Jon: Many snowboard manufacturers have moved production to the Far East. How important is it that Contract boards are ‘hand-crafted’ in Poland? What are the benefits of this?

Click to view full image

Dominika: The main advantage for us is that we know the boards are great quality. We can look after every step of the production by ourselves. Contract boards are 100% local, the technical ideas, the production, the look. Also the cost is important for us, we spend less on transportation. Having the factory in Central Europe is very convenient for arranging transportation. Another thing is that we have the possibility to try new ideas, to change things when we want. It is really exciting to see every step of the production of a brand new board.
Finally there is an economic issue. Does everything have to be made in the Far East? This is an issue I don’t want to get into here. Let’s just say we are based in one of the best factories in Europe where we can make high quality snowboards that we are proud of.

Jon: How many people work at Contract?

Dominika: We have around 130 people working at Contract and in the NBL factory.

Jon: Do they snowboard?

Dominika: Yes, most do and this it is important for us, it means they understand the product and take real pride in their work.

Jon: What are the benefits of working for Contract? Are employees hooked up with boards? Do they get to customise them?

Dominika: I feel pride when I think about working for Contract. I have always snowboarded and still do, so working for Contract is like the cherry on the pie for me. We do not customise the boards for ourselves; we just focus on producing the best, most high quality boards we can and promoting and representing the brand the best we can.

Jon: How many boards does the factory produce each week?

Dominika: That’s hard to say exactly; we produce about 1000 pieces of gear a week combining snowboards, kite boards and skis.

Jon: What are the quality controls and how many warranty returns do you get?

Dominika: We don’t get many warranty returns at Contract. Last year we had maybe 10, but among these we accepted half as good will to the customer. We are so close to the production that we can keep a close eye on the process and ensure great quality boards, but of course there are always things you cannot control or predict.

Jon: Contract are rocking some crazy tech in their boards. Highlight some of the key features for us.

Dominika: One of the main innovations is Snake Transition Technology; this introduces pre-stress to the board in the form of ‘waves’ between the binding insets. This deformation stores energy inside the board making it more reactive, responsive and livelier. It also allows us to build thinner, lighter boards, but with more durability. Snake Transition allows us to increase the torsional rigidity of our boards by 15% and additionally to increase the board flex by 35%, compared to standard constructions. Thanks to Snake Transition it is possible to have a board that is stable at speed and has amazing edge grip combined with a freestyle flex that is fun in the park.
Other technology includes; the use of honeycomb in the core to reduce weight, X-React – carbon and Kevlar stringers running diagonally across the board from contact point to contact point to give huge pop and reduce vibrations. TRIP – this technology lifts up the edges at the contact points resulting in safer landings, a catch free ride and better float in powder. Power Plates – placed under the binding area these improve power transfer to the edges, provide impact protection and greater vibration damping. We also have BCF sidecut which is great for bigger riders allowing them to ride a shorter board, but still float in powder.
As you can see we manage to pack a lot into our boards! Check out www.contractsnowboards.com for more details.

Click to view full image Dariusz creator of Contract and Snake Tech

Jon: With so much tech packed into each Contract board how quickly are ideas turned into reality?

Dominika: The process from idea to final production can be really quick. Usually when there is an idea, a sample is made and tested and if it gets approved it’s produced. We are lucky because of our location we can make a sample and test it more or less on our doorstep. Once we have samples made we give them to our team to ride. The main innovator is Dariusz he is often the first to test new ideas because he knows in his mind how it is supposed to work.

Jon: How important is customer feedback in shaping board design and graphics?

Dominika: Feedback is important and we always take it seriously, but we find the technical aspect is never discussed as frequently as the graphics. Everyone has an opinion on these.

Jon: Can you give us any sneaky clues about new tech, boards or graphics for 2012/13?

Dominika: As always the new collection is going to be technologically advanced, for this season we have not made any significant changes - we are giving our fans time to enjoy 3D Snake Transition! One new thing for this season is Snake Transition NANO, but not everyone knows about it. It uses smaller waves, but more waves and has the same characteristics as normal Snake Transition. We use it on our Citizen Shred boards; you have to touch it to feel the difference. Our graphics will be the usual high quality, we use screen printing. We have a really good specialist Dariusz Fodczuk who knows how to make our boards look so beautiful. I can add that there is going to be a co-operation with a lifestyle brand and local artist - known in the UK as well. There’s going to be 30 limited edition boards. Also there is going to be a new model, the Circus which will replace a current model.

Click to view full image Limited Edition 2012-13 Graphic

Jon: Tell us about how Contract supports grass roots snowboarding through things like the SYS (Support Young Shredders) program.

Dominika: Through SYS we support talented young riders with boards and gear. We also support local snowboard clubs with special offers on our boards. Our aim is to help young people. We give them space on our website; they can always send us pictures, videos, stories. We want to help them become known.

Jon: Are there any Contract rippers we should keep an eye on for the future?

Dominika: If there is one you will know about it for sure, but our main idea is to support all shredders who have a passion for snowboarding.





Jon: Thanks for your time Dominika, good talking to you.

You can purchase Contract Snowboards from www.yeahboards.com
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