SnowSports Industries America sees Park City as an opportunity
September 9, 2016
For 40 years, SnowSports Industries America (SIA) flourished in McLean, Virginia, tucked right outside the Capital Beltway.
But after four decades, it was time for a change. The influential trade organization, which represents suppliers of snow sports gear, needed to move closer to its members. It announced in June that it was relocating to Park City and earlier this month completed the move, settling into new digs at 1918 Prospector Ave.
"We wanted to move where we could be more beneficial to our membership," said Nick Sargent, president of SIA. "… (Washington) D.C. was great and we were able to do a lot of lobbying and governmental affairs, but we were really removed from the actual winter sport business."
Those in the ski industry have touted the move as a positive for Park City. Erik Snyder, CEO of manufacturer Armada Skis — which itself recently moved to Park City — and a member of SIA's board of directors, has said that SIA's relocation will be of particular consequence to its members nearby, who will benefit from more direct and frequent contact with the organization.
Georgia Anderson, director of merchandising for Deer Valley Resort, said even entities that aren't affiliated with SIA will see value from its presence. The organization will boost the town's image as one of North America's best ski destinations.
"It elevates the status of our town," said Anderson, who noted that Deer Valley attends SIA's annual Snow Show in Denver. "SIA is an important organization to the ski retail world. Not that I will directly have involvement with them being in town, but it's great to have it as a local resource."
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SIA performs a number of functions for its members. Sargent admits many people know the organization only for its annual trade show in Denver, but its operations stretch far beyond that event. It compiles and distributes research and data about the ski industry, lobbies the government to implement business-friendly foreign trade policies for its members, and backs conservation efforts and environmental awareness.
All are vital services for members. But perhaps none are more important, Sargent said, than its role in fighting climate change. The rising temperature of the Earth presents dire consequences for snow sports manufacturers — including, perhaps, the collapse of the ski industry altogether, he said.
"Just take a look around," he said. "Take a look at last winter (nationally) and the winter before that. It's definitely getting warmer. We need snow for this industry to thrive. That's a huge issue for us. We can't change something overnight or over a year or two years, but we can be working to drive education and information."
Now in Park City, SIA will look to develop ties with a number of local organizations, such as the Park City Chamber/Bureau, Ski Utah and the Utah Office of Tourism. Sharing resources and information could prove to be a boon for everyone involved, Sargent said. The goal would be to entice more people to ski in Utah and to ensure more consumers are purchasing goods from SIA's members.
"We're able to create think tanks, workshops, seminars, driving education and research and data," he said. "We can partner with those groups to better understand the consumer, the frequency with which they're coming into the state, how much money they're spending and what more the state could offer to enhance that experience."
There has been speculation that SIA could move its trade show from Denver to Salt Lake City, which already hosts the popular Outdoor Retailer trade show twice a year. Sargent said, however, that such a scenario is unlikely and cited the organization's healthy relationships with the state of Colorado and Denver.
"It doesn't make sense for us to take a huge opportunity and a huge event out of (Colorado) to strengthen our position (in Utah)," he said. "That position is already strong. We're doing ourselves better service by spreading ourselves out between different states to drive our overall national business."