Burton Snowboards

Burton Snowboards Inc.
Industry Sporting goods
Founded 1977
Headquarters Burlington, Vermont
Key people
Jake Burton Carpenter, Founder and Chairman
Products Snowboard equipment, apparel, accessories
Number of employees
Over 600 U.S., 950 Global[1]
Website www.burton.com

Burton Snowboards is a manufacturer of snowboards.[2][3] Founded by Jake Burton Carpenter in 1977, the company specializes in a product line aimed at snowboarders: snowboards, bindings, boots, outerwear, and accessories. The company's flagship store is in Burlington, Vermont.[4] The company is privately owned by Burton and his wife, Donna Carpenter, who has been active in the business since 1983.[5]

Company overview

Burton factory in 2009, including double chairlift, originally used at a resort,[6] between streetlights

Burton built the world's first snowboard factory. It is the largest snowboard brand in the world.[7] The first snowboard was a Backhill snowboard, which is a narrow board with single strap bindings and a rope and handle attached to the nose.[8] Burton products are marketed worldwide in over 4,348 stores; 1,536 of those stores are located in the United States. In 2003 Burton allowed several online companies to sell Burton products over the internet. For years Burton had only been available through stores locally, but Burton felt that an online presence would allow buyers to have an alternative instead of turning to another brand.[9]

As well as selling Burton products, Burton stores sell several sub-brands which focus on specific market niches. These sub-brands include Anon Optics (snowboard goggles and eyewear), RED (helmets and body armor), Analog (outerwear)[10] and Gravis (footwear).[11] In 2005, Four Star Distribution sold four of its snowboard brands to Burton: Forum Snowboarding, Jeenyus, Foursquare and Special Blend.[12] Burton, a privately owned company, also owns a surfing distributor.

The Burton line is split into Four types of categories. They are: Freeride, for big mountain; freestyle, for versatile ride; park, for freestyle disciplines like half-pipe and park, and Carving; for carving down the side of mountains. Each of the categories has different levels of performance and price. In 2009, Burton's line included 61 snowboards in men, women, and youth. Board prices range from $300 to $1,500.[4]

In February 2008, Burton acquired DNA Distribution, which includes the skateboard manufacturer Alien Workshop, and two other companies.[13]

In 2008, the snowboard equipment industry had grown to $487 million.[4] Burton had 40–70% of these sales, depending on the category.[4] Average age of employees was 30 in 2008.[4]


Top view of a c. 1981 Burton snowboard in museum condition

Burton Snowboards[14] was founded by Jake Burton in 1977.[4] Burton was inspired by the snurfer,[4] invented by Sherman Poppen. He modified it. In 1977 Burton moved to Londonderry, Vermont to make the first Burton Snowboards. Burton personally first made snowboards by hand in his garage.[15] He couldn't afford the proper equipment—so he applied polyurethane wearing a scuba mask.[16] His co-founder Dimitrije Milovich, was an East coast surfer and founder of Winterstick.[17]

In 1978, they moved to Manchester, Vermont. During the early years 4 or 5 workers sold, shaped, and repaired their snowboards.

Jake Burton campaigned for local resorts to open their lifts to snowboard riders. The first mountain to have reportedly let snowboarders in was in 1982, the Suicide Six ski area in Pomfret, Vermont. Next was Stratton Mountain, and later, Jay Peak and Stowe. When resorts started to accept riders, the public did too. Burton was in place to supply them with snowboards.

In 1982 Burton was marketing their product at the National Snowboarding Championships, which were held at Suicide Six. In 1985 the National Snowboarding Championships moved to Stratton Mountain and became the U.S. Open Snowboarding championships which was operated and owned by Burton. This competition helped legitimize the sport. In 1983, he married Donna Carpenter and, in the past, taken her last name as his last name.[5]

In 1985 Burton established the European Division of Burton in Innsbruck, Austria. In 1986 distribution started in New Zealand. In 1992 the Burton factory relocated to Burlington, VT. In 1994 they opened the Japan division in Urawa-shi. In 2014, there were 400 employees in Burlington, out of 1,000 worldwide.[5]

As of 2009, Burton owned 10 companies that sold snowboards, outerwear, and shoes. R.E.D,[18] Gravis,[19] Anon,[20] Analog,[21] Forum,[22] Special Blend,[23] Foursquare, Jeenyus, and most recently Channel Islands.[24] In 2008 Burton began to make surfboards in Vermont.

In 2008, a number of complaints arose when Burton produced snowboards, some with topsheets illustrating self-mutilation and others with topsheets illustrating Playboy bunnies. As a result, the Burton Love was discontinued for the 2012 line and replaced by the Mr. Nice Guy.[25]

Each year, Jake Burton has hosted the Fall Bash, to promote good will among employees and friends of the company.[26] In 2009, the Fall Bash became the subject of controversy after the company attempted to censor press about it.[27]

In 2010, Burton announced that Burton Snowboards would cease manufacturing in Vermont, moving production to Austria. "[S]imply put, it costs us significantly more to produce a board in Vermont than we are capable of selling it for, and sadly, this is not sustainable in the current economy."[28]

Burton named Donna Carpenter as President in December 2011.[5]

For 2013, Donna Carpenter estimated that the company had 40–45% of the snowboarding business; which business totaled $236 million. She said that the U.S. market comprised 35% of the business, Europe 30%, and Japan and Canada most of the rest.[5]

In May 2014, Burton named Mike Rees as CEO. Jake Burton remained as founder and chairman.[5] In December 2015, Burton named Donna Carpenter as CEO ( Mike Rees having left to be closer to family) and John Lacy as President.[29]

Marketing and promotion

In order to attract rider interest, Burton sponsors professional riders and events. Burton's sponsored professional snowboard team includes Taylor Gold,[30] Shaun White, Jeremy Jones, Kazuhiro Kokubo, Terje Haakonsen, Ellery Hollingsworth, Kelly Clark, Hannah Teter, and Kevin Pearce. Burton has avoided having complete sponsorship with Burton/Burton affiliated brands. Nicholas Mueller rides Burton bindings/boards with Nike boots/outerwear. Burton has come under criticism over for its choices regarding the team, such as the removal of David Carrier Porcheron[31] and other riders in 2008.

Burton sponsored the creation of organic terrain parks made of rocks, stumps, and logs. These parks can be found at Killington Ski Resort, Vermont, USA; Avoriaz, France; and The Remarkables, New Zealand.

Burton Snowboards created a program Learn To Ride in 1998. They were the only snowboard company to focus on instruction methods and beginner-specific equipment. The goal was to give beginner snowboarders the best initial snowboarding experience possible so they would continue to snowboard. Burton teamed up with the American Association of Snowboard Instructors, the Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors, and major resorts around the world.[32]

The Chill program was founded in 1995 to provide children with the opportunity to learn to snowboard. Chills works in conjunction with inner city youth programs to take children and teens to local mountains and teach them to ride over a 6-week period. Burton provides everything needed for the experience: gear, lift tickets, and instruction. Founded in 1995, Chill has provided over 12,000 underprivileged children the opportunity to learn to snowboard. Because of the 2008 graphics controversy and concern over effects on youth, a local beneficiary severed its ties with Burton.[33]


The company started using a single-channel binding-mounting system on its 2008 models. In 2009, this system was installed on other snowboard lines. A binding system was offered with this system that was designed to give the rider more control as well as greater board feel. This binding system named EST eliminates weight by mounting the binding to the board from the sides of the binding instead of the middle, getting rid of the middle baseplate. One is also able to move the binding in another direction from before, back and forward. The binding is able to adjust to ones specific needs.


  1. "Burton Cuts Small Percentage of Staff". Burton Snowboards Inc.,. February 11, 2010. Retrieved February 22, 2010.
  2. Reingold, Jennifer (June 2006). "Burton Snowboards". Fast Company (108). New York. p. 58.
  3. Shay, James D. (January 6, 2008). "Burton's crusade could pay off – The Connecticut Post Online". www.connpost.com. Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved February 9, 2009.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Marquardt, Katy (September 29, 2008). King of the Hill in Snowboards. US News and World Report.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 D'Ambrosio, Dan (June 19, 2014). "Burton rides trends from Vermont to China". Burlington Free Press. Burlington, Vermont. pp. 4D. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  6. burton.kontain.com Archived January 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. "Burton Snowboards Is King of the Hill". U.S. News. September 19, 2009.
  8. "Vintage 1981 Burton Backhill Snowboard". Vintagewinter.com. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  9. "The King of Snowboards". Inc.com. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  10. "Analog Clothing". Skateboarding.com.au. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  11. "Gravis Footwear Launched by Burton – Sort Of". Transworld Snowboarding. December 1, 1998. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  12. "Burton Finalizes Acquisition of Forum, Jeenyus, Foursquare and Special Blend". Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  13. Burton :: Burton Acquires Alien Workshop and Habitat Archived February 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. "Burton US Site". Burton.com. Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  15. Helmich, Portland (August 2000). "Chairman of the Board". Business People-Vermont. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  16. "Burton Snowboards Inc. History". Funding Universe. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  17. "Back in the Day". Burton Press Kit. Burton Snowboards. 2007. pp. 3–39.
  18. "9 Men's RED Helmets". Burton.com. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  19. "Gravis Footwear". Gravis Footwear. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  20. "Anon". Anonoptics.com. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  21. "Analog Clothing". Analog Clothing. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  22. "Forum Snowboarding | Fun is Fun". Forumsnowboards.com. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  23. "Special Blend Outerwear and Softgoods | First Chair Last Call". Special-blend.com. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  24. ": Channel Islands Surfboards :". Cisurfboards.com. Archived from the original on February 8, 2014. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  25. Ober, Lauren (November 19, 2008). Council asks Burton to discuss snowboard images. Burlington Free Press.
  26. "Making Fun of Snowboarding Since 1997 » Features Random » Wah, Wah, Wah, Wah". YoBeat. October 4, 2009. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  27. "» Burton Snowboards: Control Denied". Jaredsouney.com. September 20, 2007. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  28. "Burton Snowboards moving production facilities out of Vermont". The Ski Channel. March 16, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  29. shop-eat-surf http://www.shop-eat-surf.com/content/burton-makes-ceo-change. Retrieved 23 December 2015. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. "Taylor Gold". United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA). Retrieved April 7, 2014.
  31. "Making Fun of Snowboarding Since 1997 » Features Hump Day Interviews » DCP Says YES to Hump Day". YoBeat. September 9, 2009. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  32. "Burton Snowboards". K5.com. Retrieved February 22, 2010.
  33. "Burton Love Graphics Prompt Essex CHIPS To Withdraw From CHILL Program". Transworld Business. Retrieved February 9, 2010.

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