The entrance to ON3P Skis headquarters in Southeast Portland has the look of a well-used ski house, with skis, boots, backpacks, goggles, poles, helmets, avalanche shovels, sleeping bags and snow tires strewn about the entrance. In the back are ski presses, grinding machines and rows of handmade skis. Company president Scott Andrus, 24, is tired from skiing all day at Mount Hood Meadows and all night at Ski Bowl, but his energy picks up as he starts talking skis.
Rowen Tych works on a ski at ON3P, a ski maker based in Southeast Portland. // Photo courtesy ON3P
Andrus was a biology major at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma when he received a pair of powder skis he didn’t like. Convinced he could do better, he took 10 months to build a ski press and learn the craft. By the time he graduated in 2009 he was a ski maker. He moved to Portland that summer to launch ON3P with a couple of ski buddies. They pretty much lived in the building in the early days while building their own mini-factory from scratch.
ON3P has grown as more skiers have jumped onto super-wide “rocker” boards designed for floating over, rather than sinking into, deep snow. ON3P’s skis are all built in the rocker style, in Portland. Each of the seven models has its own mold, and prices range form $599 to $749 per pair. The company sold 600 pairs of skis online this season and plans to sell 1,000 next season.
Andrus outfits a hard-shredding, 10-member “flow team” to show off his creations on the slopes. He has also scored publicity by toying with one of the biggest companies in the business. After he jokingly named his favorite model the Great Scott — after himself — the industry giant Scott hit him with a “cease and desist” letter. Andrus renamed his ski the Cease and Desist, and it’s now ON3P’s biggest seller.
With the business catching on, Andrus is studying the terrain to find his best launching point. He’s sponsoring a ski film, considering in-store sales and a possible bank loan. But he says one thing will not change: ON3P will always make its own skis, in the U.S.