We had the good fortune of connecting with Peter Grossmann and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Peter, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Pretty simple really – my dad asked me to make him a ski rack which wouldn’t alter the shape of his new AT (Alpine Touring) skis while they were being stored. I went out into our shop where all of our skis were piled into one corner, looked at the wall opposite it which was full of brooms, shovels, and rakes all nicely organized and hanging via traditional ‘handle hooks’. I thought to myself, “I think I can make that idea (handle hook) work with that (pile of skis)…” I went to the metal shop where I was working, and made a quick prototype of what I had in mind, took it back to the house, and to my amazement, it worked! And it worked well. I showed the idea to some skier and snowboarder friends who all wanted one for themselves, so I thought I might be onto something.
After doing a lot of market research, product testing, and development I launched Rocker Ski Rack in 2011.
What should our readers know about your business?
I stumbled into designing, making, and selling the highest quality ski and snowboard racks, aka Rocker Ski Rack. More or less everything is done in house, from fabricating the actual components and racks, to packaging and shipping the racks to customers around the world. It’s definitely not what I had in mind for my ‘profession’, but I suppose it’s not that far off from what I have always been doing… I grew up making things, whether it was forts in blackberry bushes or custom levels for video games. I got involved with construction (building custom homes) during high school, and upon getting accepted into college decided to pursue architecture. School was great, I had amazing mentors and professors while I was there, who exposed me to all sorts of new tools and ways of approaching and solving problems, both beautifully and functionally.
After getting my Master’s in Architecture, I entered the field professionally, interning for a number of years and eventually getting my architecture license. There is a ton to learn between the time you get out of school and get your license, and I was fortunate to be exposed to a wide range of projects and work with great people along the way. I continue to practice architecture here in southern Oregon, and although it’s not my main focus, I still really enjoy it.
But it’s hard to physically experience something in the computer, which is why I transitioned back making things in 2011 (the majority of which I also designed). The projects were mostly metal-related: handrails, guardrails, fences, gates, and some artistic stuff sprinkled throughout. I was able to use my skills as an architect to design and develop solutions that I would also eventually get to fabricate, which is a great way to learn what works and what doesn’t. Again, I was fortunate to work with great people who challenged what was possible and collaborated with me to come up with solutions that were both beautiful and functional.
Simultaneous to the metal work, I was developing Rocker Ski Rack. It started from scratch, I had no background in product design/development or experience in business/marketing/fulfillment – I simply started with an idea that worked, and built it up from there. It was and still isn’t easy; I’m continuously pushed to my limit, but the things I have been able to learn first hand are immeasurable. I have done everything: from cleaning the raw material in order to get it ready to process, to packaging and putting finished product into a box which I then send to my customer. I still do a lot of it to this day – when you reach out to Rocker Ski Rack, it’s me at the other end. I love being able to connect with folks that are passionate about their gear and want to support a business which isn’t strictly focused on profit, but focused on making a killer product which will last for decades to come.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I grew up in southern Oregon, and honestly as a kid, I never thought that I would want to live here as an adult. I’m still coming to terms with it, but it really is an amazing place. If you want to get outside and away from people you can do it here. Places I would want to show off include: Mount Ashland – whether it’s skiing down the slopes during the winter, or hiking on and around that area in the spring and summer, its a special place. Same goes for Crater Lake National Park, warm or cold, it really takes your breathe away.
The Rogue River is also right here, so probably have to spend at least a couple days floating down it, either for the white water or for the fishing. Mount Shasta is also magical, Lemurians (the local aliens who are reported to visit and live within it) or not.
A trip to southern Oregon wouldn’t be complete without staying at the Greensprings Inn & Cabins, located in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. The cabins are beautiful and cozy, and the food there is great too. There are lakes to swim in nearby, and lots of hikes and vistas to explore and checkout.
Admittedly, I am not much of a ‘people’ person, but if I was to adventure out and about in town, I would have to stop by Caldera for a beer, followed by one of the great restaurants downtown (Standing Stone, Brickroom, and Bricolla to name a few).
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Thanks to my family for their support in all my endeavors, but probably most importantly getting me on skis and into the outdoors at the age of 2.
Thanks to my friends for their feedback and support in the development and refinement of the racks.
And big thanks to everyone which has supported Rocker Ski Rack over the past 10 years (whoa) and into the future! What a trip, looking forward to what the journey will bring.