Max Holzman possesses a snowboarder’s passion, a Burton employee’s knowledge, a welder’s skills and a craftman’s ethos.
Along with a stay-at-home-dad’s schedule, these elements have combined in the garage of an Essex Jct. home to produce MTN Local Snowboards.
Holzman left Burton in 2009, where he helped customers through warranty claims for nearly a decade. His career transition led him to welding school and an attempt to start an independent welding and fabrication business.
But snowboarding remained at the forefront of his mind.
Holzman is of the first generation of snowboarders, one of the backyard hill-hikers of the early 1980s who forged the sport’s acceptance at ski areas. Between time spent seeking a niche as a welder and working graveyard snow-grooming shifts at Stowe, Holzman gravitated toward board building.
“With the welding business, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing. With this, I was all in,” he said Friday in his garage/shop. “It’s part of who I am. The sale of the board is really a byproduct.”
After three years of tinkering and engineering three versions of a snowboard press, Holzman settled on the design with which he’ll launch his online store. By mid-November at www.mtnlocalsnowboards.com, the brand’s first model will be for sale.
He also hopes, through an industry connection, to place boards at the Alpine Shop showroom in South Burlington.
Holzman’s creations are eye-catching and performance-driven, designed to stand out aesthetically and conquer all snow conditions. He plans to eventually offer kids- and women-specific models, splitboards and bindingless “powsurfers.”
“I love snowboarding and being able to create something with your hands,” he said. “It’s my way of sort of giving back to snowboarding and helping people enjoy what I enjoy.”
Holzman’s original prototypes were bindingless boards. After hiking and riding local sledding hills and golf courses, Holzman was encouraged. Further iterations led to his first traditional board, with screw inserts to accept bindings.
Two springs ago, after an epic snow year, he took the board to Bolton Valley and rode it nearly every day during the final weeks of the season.
Last winter he settled on a design to produce, which combines the best elements of a powder board and a packed-snow carver.
“It’s a board that floats and lays a carve like nobody’s business,” Holzman said.
This summer he engineered a board press and ensured it can put out a consistent, quality product. Now, as the first frosts nip the mountaintops, the MTN Local name is trademarked, the website is live and Holzman is attracting web traffic through social media and word-of-mouth marketing.
Though each board in the first production run will have the same shape, because they are made from wood with hand-created graphics, each will have a unique fingerprint. Holzman will take custom orders in the future.
“I want to build something where people are like, ‘What is that?’” he said.
“(Snowboarding) is spiritual,” he continued. “It’s one of the few things in life where you’re in the moment, when nothing else matters. You’re just concerned about being right there. It’s just peaceful. We’re all looking for that same thing.”
Suddenly, Holzman looked at his watch. The time to talk snowsports spirituality was over. The kids needed to be picked up.
“That’s my real job,” he said. “Chauffer, chef, laundry — all the important stuff behind the front door.”
Holzman’s family supports the MTN Local endeavor, seeing his prototypes, the iterations of hand-made presses in the garage, the persistence to get a product to market. The undertaking shares Holzman’s philosophy on parenting.
“It’s a lesson of self sustainability, that you can build whatever you want,” he said. “It sounds cliché, but I want to show my kids that if you set your mind to it, you can do anything.”