An Interview with Indie SnowSports Founder, G3’s Oliver Steffen
Oliver Steffen founded G3 (Genuine Guide Gear), an independent, design-savvy leader of hardgoods and accessories created for enjoying backcountry (read: untracked powder, sans lift), two decades ago. G3 was founded with a single product: a maker-version of an avalanche probe pole. The impetus? Oliver wanted to head out to “walk around on the snow” and knew that he needed some specific equipment. He went to his local shop and was told that he had to buy a probe, which was pretty damn expensive, thank you. He knew that he could make his own version of it – and did just that. G3 was born after one serendipitous phone call + meeting (that happened within a two-hour window, which is unheard of) with Canadian powerhouse retailer Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC). That meeting resulted in an order that changed everything. And? There was this awesome “gut” feeling that Oliver had that day (and very much continues to have) that continually sets the path for his company and keeps it beyond special and remarkable. The result continues to be legendary. Today on the Intrepid Entrepreneur, you’ll hear, in Oliver’s own words, the founding story of G3. Wondering how he took G3 from a workbench in his garden apartment, to a global brand complete with a 20,000-square foot factory and warehouse in Vancouver? Oliver kept some core values top of mind (and continues to), which has kept him in the enviable position of a core brand that’s just as relevant to the Alps in Europe as it is to mountain ranges throughout North America. G3 is known for its no-compromise, design-savvy manufacturing of skis, bindings, accessories (including skins) for all things backcountry. Every G3 product has been put through the screen of: Is this something a Guide would want to use? This is nothing short of an amazing story! Please rate, review and share this podcast with anyone you know who LOVES “walking around the mountains” on the snow, as Oliver so deftly puts it!
Bravery in Business Quote:
“If you’re going to make something, make something that the guides want.”
Habit for Success?
Oliver keeps key specialty dealers close – in terms of feedback and also, what’s working and what isn’t. This has positioned G3 as a remarkable partner to snowsports specialty, the foundation of the business.
When a multi-thousand-pound spool of wire showed up to his apartment for an order of probes, Oliver realized that he needed to invest in an actual warehouse and workshop space in Vancouver, Canada. Can you imagine what the neighbors thought? He had to re-spool it onto smaller, more manageable spools to enable the giant order to fit in his basement apartment.