Photo by John F. Russell
Gary Hammerslag, CEO of Boa Technology Inc., sits inside the operation’s downtown Steamboat Springs offices. The company Hammerslag founded in Steamboat was named to Outside Magazine’s “Best Places to Work.”
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Steamboat Springs Boa Technology CEO Gary Hammerslag said his company always has worked hard to create a good work environment for its employees. It’s now being recognized nationally for those efforts.
Boa, founded in 1998 in Steamboat Springs, came in at No. 4 in Outside magazine’s “Best Places to Work” as featured in the September issue. Boa makes custom lacing systems for snowboard boots and many other types of footwear in addition to other products.
Boa has since moved to Denver, but Hammerslag and two of the company’s 60 other employees remain in Steamboat.
Hammerslag said being named among the 50 best places to work by the magazine validates Boa’s goal to create a fun, challenging and rewarding work environment.
“The recognition is rewarding because a key part of having a good business is having it be a good place to work,” he said. “Talented people have a lot of choice where to work, and we want them to work here.”
Boa was among seven Colorado companies to make the list. SmartWool also was recognized. The Steamboat-based merino wool outfitter came in at No. 42.
The Boa story began after Hammerslag moved back to Steamboat in 1994 to start a new business after selling a medical device company in California. He previously worked as a carpenter in town in the late 1970s.
Hammerslag wasn’t sure what that new venture would be, but he quickly figured it out after taking up snowboarding.
He said traditional snowboard boot laces didn’t work very well. So he fashioned a lacing system using guide wires typical in coronary angioplasties. Instead of tightening laces, the device he created just required its users to twist a round knob.
The Boa Closure System first appeared on snowboard boots in 2001, the only product that featured the device for four years. Hammerslag said the closure system now appears on more than 200 products from about 90 different brands, including cycling and outdoor performance shoes, work boots, telemark ski boots, helmets and even medical equipment such as casts and braces.
The company’s sales have doubled in the past two years, Hammerslag said. He said it’s a result of Boa’s addition of new products and gaining market share. But more so, he said, it’s a result of his employees.
“They’re the main reason why we’re growing,” Hammerslag said.
In addition to its Steamboat and Denver workforce, Hammerslag said he employs seven people in a Hong Kong warehouse; two in Shenzhen, China, where Boa devices are manufactured; four in Japan; and one in Korea.
Hammerslag said he expects Boa’s growth to continue. He said there are a lot of shoelaces in the world, which makes his product less prone to economic volatility.
To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com