Saint-Narcisse-de-Rimouski, Québec. Home to only a 1,000 people and one of the most legit snowboard factories on the planet. Utopie Snowboard MFG was built on the passion and dedication from Jean-François Bouchard. He started building snowboards in the early 2000s with his own brand, modelled after the small surfer-shaper shops found in beach towns around the world. Building a brand is difficult, and he had issues on the retail sales front that would have pushed most to find another line of work. This is when he realized the fire he had for building snowboards. JF made the decision to focus 100 per cent on developing his manufacturing skills and factory capabilities. Since 2007, he’s added machinery and increased the factory size judiciously without over-extending himself, and along the way, though small compared to others, Utopie has become a world-class snowboard factory.
Paul Maravetz is Co-Founder / Co-President and the Director of Product at Rome Snowboards. In 1991, Paul cut his teeth at the original Burton factory in Manchester, Vermont, since then he has produced snowboard product in over 21 different factories throughout his tenure. The quality of both the product and people have become the benchmark for his producing partners. The fact that Utopie is geographically close to Rome HQ in Waterbury, Vermont doesn’t hurt either. Paul and his team take full advantage of the factory’s proximity by building prototypes and testing them on snow at a small ski hill less than 15 km from the factory. Paul admits that the USD/CAD exchange rate is currently favourable, and the element of pride when “Made in Canada” shows on product is a plus in this market. But, Canada is only one part of their global distribution. Ultimately, the quality of the product has to be on point for every market and after a couple years working together, they are 100 per cent confident in what Utopie produces.
“At Rome’s size and maturity, we really can only afford to work with professionally run, modern, environmentally conscious organizations that are dedicated to building innovative product at a competitive price. Our retailers and riders count on us for no-excuse products. We need to work with organizations that can help us deliver on this. As you know, Rome has a deep history with Canadian team riders. And there’s one thing that I’ve looked to Canada for more than anything else and that has been challenging to get a hold of within the factories Rome’s worked with over the past 15 years: Canadian Aspen. As far as I am concerned, Canadian Aspen is the best snowboard core material in the world. I discovered it about 25 years ago in another life when I was producing the same board model at two different factories, one in Canada and one in Europe. With the exception of the core material and some small factory-specific production variations, these boards were virtually identical in construction, weight and flex but the ride characteristics were dramatically different. The snap and pop and energy of the boards with the Canadian Aspen made the boards so much more lively and fun to ride than the European Poplar core boards. Word spread quickly and in no time at all pro riders who historically barely cared what they were riding were requesting boards built with Canadian Aspen. For our 2017-18 season, Utopie is producing our Powder Division and Mountain Division series and our new all-mountain freestyle boards, the Marshal and the National. In their second season producing for us, they are now one of our two major snowboard suppliers. I’m very happy to be building boards in Canada again.” —Paul Maravetz, Director of Product
“I’m happy with Utopie’s digital printing capabilities and their willingness to expand their finishing offerings to make our boards look top notch. Right out of the gate, with the new National LE, I proposed doing some hand painted 1-of-1-style applications. They didn’t flinch, and approached it with a refreshing amount of enthusiasm. Each board has a large handpainted X in the nose area, painted on just before pressing the board, each one is unique. It’s a cool detail to give the consumer a truly individual product, and I was super hyped that the guys were so willing to make it happen.” —Michael Paddock, Art Director