Making It: Fin Doyle uses ingenuity to build business
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth of a weekly story we’ll bring readers about how businesses, families, individuals and organizations in Summit County are making it through these rocky economic times. If you have an idea for the “Making It” series, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SILVERTHORNE ” Bomber Industries owner Fin Doyle does it all ” he manufactures, assembles and ships plate bindings for hard boot snowboarders ” from his business’s headquarters in Silverthorne.
By combining an entrepreneurial spirit with his love of snowboarding, the longtime local built a successful, internationally-known online business out of his garage.
“Making hardware is easy,” said Doyle, who guesses that hard-booters make up 2-3 percent of the snowboarding population. “The hurdle is making people aware of the hard-booting minority. Every year, we grow. New people are trying it.”
When asked who’s switching from soft boots to hard boots, Doyle used himself as an example.
“I’m 40 years old,” he said, “and I’m not interested in the halfpipe anymore. I want control and to carve. I’m not jumping and spinning anymore. I’ve jumped a million jumps, but I don’t want to do that. As snowboarders age, they’re more interested (in carving).”
Bomber Industries is one of the few manufacturers in the country that demos carving gear. And Bomber is a dealer in carving boards and boots.
“If we get people to try the sport, they usually buy it,” he said.
So far this year, Doyle has seen a slight dip in sales because current hard-booters aren’t upgrading their gear. But, sales are up for “never-evers.”
Summit County is a hub for an international crowd and people from all over the world are setting up appointments to tour Bomber during their vacations ” it’s not a retail store with shopping hours, but Doyle maintains a showroom for visitors.
While a student of mechanical engineering at Chico State College in California, Doyle learned to snowboard in 1986 on a trip to Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts.
Not wanting to enter the “real world” after graduation, Doyle joined Copper Mountain Resort’s ranks as a snowboard instructor in 1992.
During his time at Copper, Doyle noticed a need for better snowboard bindings and designed his first “TrenchDigger #1” plate binding in 1993 from his garage and bedroom.
In 1999, he moved Bomber to its Silverthorne location and started an online component, http://www.bomberonline.com.
Doyle also designs a Bishop telemark binding, though he stopped its production a year ago to save money.
“It was very successful,” he said, “but it’s an expensive binding to make.”
Doyle aims to create a new Bishop model and manufacture it soon.
“It’s funny that used Bishop bindings are selling for more on eBay than for what I sell them new,” he said. “Unfortunately I’m sold out.”
To have a successful business, Doyle runs a tight ship ” he has one full-time employee and he hires up to eight people during the summer months to manufacture and assemble his wares.
“We’re seasonal like a farmer,” Doyle said. “We make the gear in the summer and we sell it in the winter.”
To supplement his income, Doyle turns his machines around and manufactures items under his other business, Forsa Industries, like fuel-system parts for Subaru.
And Doyle is heavy on “doing it himself,” meaning he cuts his parts and makes manufacturing machines in-house.
“It saves money and gives us control,” he said. “If you have someone else making parts, they could be wrong.”
To design, manufacture and then use a product is a thrill to Doyle ” “It’s definitely the way to go.”
Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at crow@
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