For this installment of the Board Press Brand Profile, we check in with Vancouver-based Intuition Liners.
With 25 years in the liner segment of the industry, Intuition is backed by some solid supporters such as Thirty-two, Scarpa, K2 Snowboard, Ride and Full Tilt to name a few. It has also built a solid case when it comes to taking care of our tootsies by offering tailored liners designed solely to enhance our experience when heading out for whatever tickles our fancy.
It’s evident when perusing their liner catalogue that Intuition has a stacked roster. If whatever you’re into involves skis, a board, or wheels… Intuition has a liner for it. Check ‘em out….
When and where was the idea of Intuition conceived? What was the inspiration behind launching a liner company? A skier from Whistler, Byron Gracie, was trying to make a liner (first by making hand stitched pig skin liners) that would help him to beat his own times down the hill. He hooked up with Herb Lang, also living in Whistler to further develop the concept. Rob Watt was the third to join the group (who eventually became partners in the company until Rob bought them out) and the first to see it as a commercial product, and not just to help Byron beat his personal best.
Given Intuition launched over 20 years ago, how has the brand evolved over the years? Twenty-five years this season. We started with a single piece of foam, made into an overlap liner (the Alpine – now the Classic HD) focused on downhill. Soon after, we started to work with snowboarders, and then telemarkers and mountaineers and have now expanded the line to over 32 models to further accommodate all the different fits and applications. We work with many established brands and continue to pursue the “upgrade, aftermarket replacement” liner market.
The liner side of the industry is a bit of a tricky one to understand, so please tell us, why liners? How do your liners differ from stock liners many consumers purchase with their new boots? Intuition was the first liner company to make blended EVA, heat-moldable custom liners, with a single piece liner pattern, which we patented in the early ‘90s. Up until that point, most liners were (and some still are) stitched (cheap marble foam, like carpet underlay, open-cell foams which become wet, heavy, cold and take a long time to dry out) or injection molded liners, a one-shot deal, expensive and again cold and heavy. Intuition liners are light, warm and can be re-molded. There are now more and more brands trying to follow the trend, but they don’t have the experience that Intuition does. They’re using better quality (closed-cell EVA) foams, but mostly in “key” areas, so the liners are not actually 100% moldable/custom, like Intuition’s.
Why should shops consider bringing Intuition Liners onto their sales floor? Is it a fairly easy sell to consumers? In the beginning (the ’90s) it took quite a bit of skill and experience to even attempt to properly fit an intuition liner (putting a “pancake, envelope shaped liner into an oven, mold it onto the person’s foot and into their shells, hoping it all works out right), but since those days, we have further developed the molding process (pre-forming liners, which you can try on in the shells before molding), making it much easier on the shop and end consumer. There is a demand for this product to the point where people will take out the stock liners in a brand-new boot (that doesn’t already come with Intuition) and immediately replace them with Intuition liners, without hesitation. Our marketing for the first 10+ years was word of mouth, and we still find that to be the best way to expand our customer base. If your friend didn’t get frostbite on your big trip, and you did… you’re going to go looking for the liners that saved your buddy’s toes.
Who is the ideal Intuition consumer? Everyone, from Novice to Professional. Anyone looking to improve performance, comfort and warmth. Kids can pass on their old liners to a friend or sibling to remold and use. Chronic cold feet sufferers, previous frostbite, old injuries, odd shapes, wanting to stiffen up a softer low-end shell, Intuition Liners can do it all.
What are some of your best sellers? The Power Wrap has always been a “cult classic”, loved by many, and used in various applications. On the opposite end of the stiffness scale, the Dreamliner has pleasantly surprised us and accommodates a variety of feet and shell fits. The Luxury liners are also one of the top-selling models.
The industry as a whole has faced its fair share of challenges in recent years, how have you positioned Intuition to ride it out? Fortunately, we stick to what we do best, don’t make too many changes to something that works, and keep tight relations with our valued partners. We are making more summer products as well (check out the Skate and Aqua liners) to help keep us more balanced year-round and less seasonal, relying on Mother Nature to give us enough of that good white stuff.
What’s your take on the state of the ski and snow industry right now? What do you think needs to happen for it to thrive? Shift the entire season a month (don’t let holidays like American Thanksgiving force the opening). The snow seems to come later now, and stays later too. The local ski hills are still stuck on the old schedule, bringing staff on too early, and cutting them when they’re mostly down to pass-holder visits, but still have lots of snow. The “big” brands keep consolidating and there’s too much of a corporate vibe (does the “driver” of the brand care about the people or only the dollars?). The ski shows are too close together (date wise) and make it difficult for one person to be everywhere at once.
What has been your experience being the sole distributor for the Canadian market? We’re so fortunate to be so organic and not have to push our product into people faces, because our consumers do that for us. Most (if not all) of our retailers have approached us directly. We don’t currently have reps, and do our best to support them with our small, family-style team in Vancouver, BC. Lots of room to grow, but we’re not in a hurry, or going away.
Who have been some of your biggest supporters in Canada since Day 1? Nancy Greene Raine was the first athlete (Olympic Gold Medalist) to rave about the liners, via fax! Unfortunately, the printing on the thermo-paper has since disappeared. Kevin Sansalone, Mark Fawcett and Ross Rebagliati would have been some of the earlier users on the snowboard side.
What can we expect to see from Intuition in the future? More streamlined innovation. More focused models. New applications.
Shout-outs? To our partner brands: Thirty-two, Scarpa, K2 Snowboard, Ride, Full Tilt, Daleboot, Roxa, Alfa, Nara, Ronix and Radar, and to all of the athletes, fans and believers.
How can people get in touch?