Stone Grinder Update
It has been a lot of fun building our stone grinding operations here in Minneapolis and I am happy to report that even though we are a few months away from peak season, the grinder has been running for much of the summer here. I will talk more about the reasons below, but part of the reason is that we have seen an up-tick the last few seasons in customers demanding the best out of their skis. Stone-grinding is the ultimate in “care” for your skis, and while it can’t make a poorly fit ski flex differently, it can take a tired base and make it like new again. When we were building our shop Phil made a reference to Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, our stone grinder is quite literally what we have built our shop around. Along with our strong retail service, stone grinding has become a major part of our identity here in Minneapolis. We take this seriously, and below I will talk how we plan to move our operations forward into the next season along with a few other topics.
We have had a number of big changes to our stone grinding operations in the last two years, changes that I wrote about in our last two grinder updates. To summarize, we have a new machine, the Tazzari RP-23, that arrived here two years ago from Italy and was installed by our Tazzari serviceman and friend Lars Svensson two summers ago. The new machine has plenty of new features that make our grinding operations much more efficient and enjoyable for the operator. These include a high pressure wash system that can thoroughly clean the stone at the flick of a switch, a new computer interface that allows us to program and cut structures with ease, a new updated diamond drive that adds to the precision of the machine, and new stones. We have also streamlined our operations by moving our old grinder from Boulder to Minneapolis. This has allowed us to concentrate our grinding operations under one roof giving us better focus in operations and uniform grinds for the customer.
With no major changes to speak of on the horizon this year our focus will be on small tweaks to our operations and testing new ideas out on the snow. We will also commit ourselves to “business as usual” and delivering the best product to our customers with every batch of skis we run.
One change that has helped us deliver a better product is the decision to pre-grind a majority of our inventory skis over the summer. Our philosophy at BNS is to provide excellent core grinds that work in a wide range of conditions – and we have been able to do that with our menu. While we do have an extensive menu with grinds for any specific condition – we have a menu within our menu that offers grinds with broad ranges over many different snow types. For the average consumer looking to maximize a one or two pair ski fleet these grinds are the most common choice. With our inventory pre-ground with these grinds our customers are able to walk out of the store after purchasing a ski without having to wait a week or more for a stone grind. For those that ask for a more specific grind after purchasing the pre-work of flattening and polishing has already been done. Re-grinding the ski is very easy at that point and can be done with minimal work. This setup allows us to focus on grinding in the summer when we have the most free-time while giving the customer a much quicker time to snow with new skis.
Another focus this year is going to be test projects on snow. The last two years testing grinds on snow was nearly non-existent due to the work of getting the new shop up and running. However, one test project that we did work on was to re-evaluate the majority of our menu on snow here in our new location. The outcome was further confidence that our grinds are fast here in the Midwest. This testing also bolstered our understanding of our grind menu – in other words our grinds are fast where we think they are fast. This year we have a few projects we will work on with the goal of putting out some new offerings for next season. One project will be working on structures for man-made snow. With the multiple excellent man-made snow loops here in the cities and more coming online this year we will have easy access to good testing for this. Other projects will be testing cold classic grinds and skate grinds for transforming snow around freezing.
One grind that we have had success with here in the Midwest and elsewhere around the country is our new S0.3 grind. We have had good feedback about this grind from customers and teams that have used it. It is a great solution in cold, squeaky, dry snow, and has a much bigger range than we previously thought. It also seems to accept hand structure well, making it a good grind for primary skis for those that live in the deep freeze parts of the country. To make this grind we use a very fine green stone that produces a fine, glassy finish. It is a fun grind to make.
Lastly as a reminder – stone grinding is good for your skis. In honor of our pledge to keep up with business as usual this year, we will be offering reasonable round trip shipping from Boulder and Portland for grinding in Minneapolis. It is as easy as stopping in and dropping them off at those locations, we will take care of the rest. For those that are shipping skis to us, simply visit us on our website, download a work order form, and ship skis to our MSP location. We also offer team deals on large orders of skis – get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or a team order form. And as always – give me a call here at the shop in Minneapolis and ask for me, I will be happy to answer any questions you might have about getting skis stoneground. Hope to see you out on the trails this winter.