BY ALEX SHOWERMAN APRIL 26, 2016
I first met Mason Davey, co-owner of Weston Snowboards, on a bootpack out to the Jackson Hole backcountry. I happened to be on one of his Backwoods snowboards, testing it during the Jackson Hole PowWow, a powderboard test where board shapers get together and compare notes on unique shapes. It was through our chat on the flanks of a mountain that I learned about Mason’s backstory.
It immediately spoke to me, as it wasn’t too different from my own. A young gun moves to the big city to do what society really expects him to do—chase money and climb the ladder of success—only to learn that this path is terrible for mental and physical health. We both decided to carve out a different route, mine as a writer, his as a boardmaker.
What surprised me most about Davey was that prior to joining Weston Snowboards, he had been a manager at an optometrist’s office at a mall in Denver—not exactly what I would call a breeding ground for future backcountry snowboard entrepreneurs. After years of living a dirtbag lifestyle, managing a small optometry shop at the base of Vail Mountain and riding every chance he could, Davey decided it was time to “follow the money” down to Denver, where cost of living was a little cheaper and the pay was much better.
“I quickly found moving down to Denver that my quality of life was nowhere near what it was up here [in the Vail area],” said Davey. “I put on about 25 pounds, eating mall food and not being physically active like I had been up in the mountains. I just generally found myself unhappy.”
The one upside of that year and half spent chasing money was that he was able to squirrel away a significant chunk of change, which gave him the opportunity to spend a few months traveling around Europe to figure out what was next. Upon returning the States, he knew he needed to head back into the mountains.
So after soul searching, he came home and took a $12/hour part-time job with boutique snowboard company Weston Snowboards. “I hadn’t made that little money since I was 16 or 17 years old,” Mason recalled, but he took the job because he wanted to “help take the company to the next level.”
A common theme in the snowsports industry is that with a good attitude, a hard work ethic and a little entrepreneurial spirit, you can start to make your own path. And that is exactly what Mason did. Within just a couple weeks of grinding away in the shop, he showed his value to the company and was hired on full time. His role at Weston quickly took on a life of its own, and drawing on his background in sales at the optometrist’s shop, he began heading up marketing and sales for Weston. As the company grew, he needed help and brought in his good friend Leo Tsou, whom he fortuitously met on the banks of a river while doing a solo camping mission. They had bonded over several splitboarding missions that winter, and Mason ultimately brought on Leo as his right-hand man.
Once the previous owner, Barry Clark, moved to California, Mason and Leo took on running the day-to-day operations at Weston Snowboards, and it became clear that they were the heart and soul of the company. Then, just a couple of short months ago, Clark offered to sell them the company.
From a soul-sucking job in the big city to proud owner of a snowboard company, Mason Davey has achieved the dream of so many.
“It was a long, hard struggle uphill, but as splitboarders we like to climb mountains,” Davey says. “We obviously enjoy the ride, but you have to enjoy the climb, too.” And that’s what seems to be the key to it all: when you do what you love, you savor the climb just as much as the descent.