Another Bend business is under new management. But it’s not some corporate takeover. It’s a handover to help further education for local college students.
SnoPlanks manufactures snow sports products in Bend. Ten years after the business was founded, co-founder James Nicol says the business is being handed off to OSU-Cascades to become part of its Outdoor Products Program.
“My business partner and I had been speaking in classes at the college and had seen the excitement and intrigue around what SnoPlanks was doing for the students. So we thought this would be an interesting path forward,” Nicol said. “What really excites me about this next step is bringing in young energy and intellect and a lot of new, fresh ideas.”
The business will be entirely run by the students in the program, from taking and shipping product orders to traveling to other snow sport shops for marketing purposes.
“This SnoPlanks Academy venture is going to be a platform for the businesses here in Central Oregon and the entrepreneurs to work with the university and with the students. It’s a really exciting opportunity for what you’d call an academia partnership,” OSU-Cascades Business Program Instructor Todd Laurence said.
While the program won’t fully launch until the 2025 school year, it’s already shaping up to be a popular elective.
“I ask students to write a dream cover letter. So, make up a job, do whatever you want. Write it to somebody who you’ve never heard of before or a company that you’ve alway wanted to work for and write it as a cover letter to a job that exists. I’ve had students write dream cover letters to SnoPlanks, and they came up to me today and were like, ‘let’s get started,’” OSU-Cascades Outdoor Products Program instructor Geoff Raynak said.
Raynak says recruiting for the program will begin as early as winter term, where a cohort of third year students will be brought on as executive-level employees for the business.
Nicol says while there is still a lot of things to figure out in regards to the new program, he and his business partner still plan to be involved.