Sierra Snowboard vs. Burton Snowboards: Why Separation Always Hurts the Kids the Most
When I was younger, one of my best friends had the experience of watching his parents go through a nasty divorce. It was difficult to say which party was the cause of the separation; each of them had done things that the other did not appreciate nor approve of. In the midst of the turmoil, I watched a happy kid that was full of life turn into a bitter, resentful, and confused individual.
As the months turned into years and time went on, the damage was never really repaired. Many times, I watched silently as my friend had to choose which parent to spend a holiday with. I watched as one parent tried their best to meet the needs of the innocent child, while the other parent looked on disapprovingly. Argument after argument ensued, in front of my friend, causing him to feel alone and abandoned no matter who he chose to spend time with.
As my friend grew into a teenager, the war raged on. At this point, it was apparent that one of his parents had moved on to bigger and better things. My friend rarely, if ever, saw this parent and hated the fact that he had been forgotten and left to live with the other parent. Don’t get me wrong, the other parent did their best to provide for him. He always had everything he needed, but could rarely afford the things he wanted; things he could have had if only his parents had stuck together.
Yesterday, we all witnessed the beginnings of a nasty “divorce” between Burton Snowboards and Sierra Snowboard. This article isn’t an attempt to place blame or find fault. I am not writing this to defend Sierra or Burton; nor do I want to throw either of them under the proverbial bus. I’m writing this article to help show the perspective of the third party in the situation. I want to let you, Sierra, and Burton, know what I am feeling as the “child” that is getting hurt in this situation.
This is what I feel:
Burton and Sierra are a great team; when they work together. Watching Burton terminate the agreement they had with Sierra was like watching my best friend’s parents get a divorce. It makes me sad knowing that I will no longer be able to find great deals on Burton products at Sierrasnowboard.com.
However, my sadness comes from a deeper understanding that this separation won’t just hurt Burton and Sierra. Just like with the divorce, the innocent bystander is the one that will suffer. In this case, there are many, many innocent bystanders that will suffer. Snowboarding, the entire sport, will suffer.
As Burton attempts to fix prices, control the sale of their goods, and force large online retailers to conform to a ridiculous discounting schedule, they make snowboarding that much more inaccessible to the consumer. As Burton tries to become a “luxury brand” they become more focused on the wealthy consumer and leave the average consumer to find a different source for snowboarding gear.
As Burton moves to develop their brand, and focus on their brand, they forget about the consumer that merely wants to go snowboarding; preferably on a quality snowboard that they acquired at a reasonable price.
As events unfolded yesterday, I read the thread created by Levi, (AKA. GUTH), at Sierra. In the thread, Levi requested a call to action and gave us all access to Clark Gundlach at Burton Snowboards email address. I, along with many other community members, jumped onto our favorite email client and sent an email right away. In my email I explained to Clark a little of what was happening over at Sierra and gave him insight as to how I was personally affected. I won’t get into detail here but the gist of the message was that my 7 year old son would have been less likely to get into snowboarding this year if Sierra hadn’t offered all of his Burton gear at such an amazing price.
At the end of the email, I gave Clark the chance to respond to the allegations that Burton is more focused on creating a luxury brand than meeting the needs of their customers. I have given Clark 48 hours to respond, and I have yet to receive a response from him. I think his silence is more of a response than I could have ever asked for.
As Sierra continues to offer amazing discounts and phenomenal customer service, Burton and its executives remain silent.
Now, as snowboarders around the world try to make sense of this divorce, Burton has moved on to bigger and better things and Sierra keeps doing what they’ve always done in the past; provide everything they can to their 200,000+ community “kids.”