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2017-01-27 / Top 100 People

Nick Gilson

CEO

Gilson Skis & Boards

Twelve years before Nick Gilson launched his brand, his father was in the process of building an ultra-light catamaran sailboat and crafted each hull from thin sheets of wood glued to the ribs of a curved wooden frame. Gilson, at a young age, was fascinated by this in that every detail of the shape was purposeful. This thought process led him to create his first snowboard prototypes after he realized that water and snow are similar and realized the lack of geometry in snowboard design.

Gilson forgot about these prototypes as he went on to obtain his degree. He was recruited to teach middle school science in Nashville, Tenn. soon after graduation.

He and fellow teacher, Austin Royer, built a hands-on learning science program that ultimately laid the foundation for the company. Soon after, Gilson took the ideas back to Pennsylvania to start his company. The early team moved into a cabin with no running water or electricity to begin building the brand.

“The potential in Central Pa. isn’t hidden locally but it hasn’t been tapped globally,” Gilson said. “We’ve leveraged the power of FedEx and the internet to create the fastest growing snowboard company in the world from a remote farm in Pennsylvania. The community and people here are extraordinary and highly skilled. These skills are globally marketable in the digital age and we’re proving that daily.”

Outside Magazine selected Gilson as one of their top American brands and the company has been said to produce the most advanced skis and snowboards in the world. Though very successful, Gilson’s path hasn’t been without failures.

“I fail frequently and I embrace those moments for the insights they hold,” Gilson said. “Fail quickly, fail cheaply and then get creative.”

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