Familiar local name in snow sports returns
An Arlington couple reopens Mt. Pilchuck Ski & Sport around their own snow slider
“The former owner was so pleased that the name would continue and encouraged us to set up our business as Mt. Pilchuck Ski & Sport,” said Lynn Marks, CEO of the business she owns with her husband, Bentley. The couple lives in Arlington.
Opened a few weeks ago on 172nd Street NE near the Arlington Airport, the store sells its own line of skis and snowboards, plus jackets, hats and other winter sports products and accessories. There's a table-and-chair lounging area styled as a mountain cabin, plus hand-made products from area residents, including knitted hats and beaded bracelets.
Local response has been good, according to the owners, who have hired Arlington High School students to help out. The store waxes and tunes skis and snowboards on site. Open year-around, the store will carry wake boards and long boards, tubes for river floats, camping gear, backpacks and fly fishing and golfing equipment.
“We also want to have kite flying contests and let kids design their own kites,” Lynn Marks said.
The business is a sales contact for InterShelter domed buildings (www.intershelter.com). The buildings are designed to provide quickly assembled housing for areas ravaged by hurricanes and tornadoes but are just as useful as mountain or lakeside recreation homes.
Behind the launch of the Marks' Mt. Pilchuck Ski & Sport venture was the Markses' dream of promoting their patented invention, the iCycle Yeti, that features a bicycle-like frame with handlebars and snowboards instead of wheels.
It's been a long struggle for the Markses to see their downhill snow scooter become popular. The Yeti blends the attractions of snowboarding and biking to create a new snow experience.
Eleven years ago in Snohomish, Bentley Marks watched his niece ride a Razor scooter and began thinking about creating something similar for the snow sport industry.
“The first one built in my garage weighed 69 pounds,” said Bentley Marks, a former airline pilot. “When we tested it in Nevada, we proved the concept worked but it shook when it went too fast. One fellow who looked at it helped us re-engineer the frame and an engineer doing freelance CAD work helped to fine-tune it.”
After producing a much lighter version and finding a manufacturer, the couple founded The Slider Corp. to market the Yeti and began promoting it, attracting the attention of the national television program “Heartbeat of America,” hosted by William Shatner. Their website also notes publicity on KING-TV's “Evening Magazine,” in Ski Area Management magazine, online at Skipressworld.com and in local publications.
Today, the business has 19 investors and a corporate board that includes Lynn Marks, Everett attorney H.R. Secoy, certified public account Donald Cox and senior adviser Lawrence Abler, CEO of QuickQuarters Inc., who has experience in hotels, golf, construction, manufacturing and management.
While Yeti sales interest was growing, the Markses had to convince ski areas that Yetis would fit in on the slopes.
“Just as snowboards were initially banned by ski resorts until they were proven safe, we faced the same issue,” Bentley Marks said.
Now the Yeti is approved at Stevens Pass and Mount Baker ski areas and he's working on other sites.
“Using it with the ski patrols and others to get their approval, I found it even outperformed my expectations,” he said.
Bentley Marks told about a 78-year-old man at a ski area who was lamenting the end of his skiing. He saw the Yeti and wanted to try it. Minutes later he and a friend were heading up the slope with it and loved its performance, he said.
When banks in the area declined the Markses a line of credit, saying their corporate offices were restricting business loans, they were discouraged, considering they had good credit, a proven new product and orders that included 100 Yeti sliders for Australia and strong interest in England and Europe.
“We decided we'd have to move ahead on our own,” he said. “So we opened the store, started promoting on social media websites like Facebook and did our own design and construction for our store after a contractor told us it would cost $8,000. We did it for a lot less.”
The couple has been amazed at the positive acceptance of their invention and their new retail store and the doors that have opened up along the way.
“A Chinese woman owns the dance studio next door and a friend from China visited recently, looking for a business investment,” Lynn Marks said. “He's excited about introducing the Yeti to China. We talk to him a couple times a week on Skype. What are the chances of that happening? We depend a lot on faith and realize that when some doors close, others will open.”
Another surprise that arrived recently was the news that her years of business experience, development of the Yeti and the new snow industry business had earned Lynn Marks the honor of Woman of the Year 2011-2012 from the National Association of Professional Women
For information on the iCycle Yeti and Mt. Pilchuck Ski & Sport, go to www.theslider corporation.com, visit the store at 5200 172nd St. NE in Arlington or call 360-925-6936.
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