Meet the SDS: Justin Frappier, Boot and Binding Product Manager

 

Without the product managers at Rome, there would be no 390, no Libertine, and no Agent. They are the crew who design our most popular products and kill it on a daily basis, and it’s about time you got to know them. Justin Frappier is one of those dudes and when he first came to Rome, he hit the ground full out sprinting. You’ll see what we mean as soon as you take a look at the 2014 line of Rome boots – they are looking better than ever, and it’s largely because of Frap who is behind the scenes making it happen. Get to know one more integral part of the SDS.

When and why did you make the move to start working at Rome?

It’s been just over a year since made the move from Montreal to start at Rome…crazy how fast it’s gone by! I was looking for the next chapter/challenge in my career. I wanted to stay in sports, and snowboarding was the only sport I liked more than hockey. I always had a thing for Vermont because I rode at Jay a ton growing up. So the move to Vermont made sense. I was also looking to broaden my skills and experience as a product designer and the opportunity at Rome gave me that. There’s that saying, “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” Well, I’ve changed that statement to, “do what you love and you will always be on vacation”.  I love snowboarding and I love designing shit, so I gave my two weeks at my old job, packed my bags for the Green Mountain State, and I’ve been on vacation ever since.

What exactly is it that you do here?

I am the Boot and Binding Product Manager at Rome. I’m involved in all aspects of product design, development, and product line management. This means I do research on new product ideas, draw stuff, build stuff, develop stuff, manage stuff and present/sell stuff. Essentially I make stuff. When I was looking at moving to Rome the thing that excited me the most was that it was a small company. A small company means you can literally take on as much work as you want. That’s what Paul [Maravetz] told me during my interviews. At that point I paused and thought to myself, “I like to take on too much work… perfect!”

What did you do before this?

Well, I was in working in Montreal for four years as a Product Designer for skates. The job was awesome. I’d play hockey with the crew before work, there’s good breakfast in Montreal, and the hockey industry itself is pretty fun and challenging. It was a dream job but as a product designer, and I think many product designers would agree, is that you don’t want to stick in one place right out of school for too long. It can get a little boring or stagnant and I wanted to keep learning as much as I could sooner rather than later, before I got old and slow. I also didn’t want to be designing hockey skates for the rest of my career. Even though it was awesome I was ready for the next challenge.

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So how did your first year go?

Things went pretty well this year. I was able to manage the boot line, the wear-testing program, develop new concepts and features, source new materials and/or processes, and boost up my frequent flyer status by traveling to China a few too many times. I learned a lot designing hockey skates in four years but I think I’ve learned more in just over a year at Rome. It’s a great crew here and I’ve learned a lot from them.

How did you originally find out about the gig here at Rome and what was the process like?

I started thinking about what my next career move in late 2011.  After creeping some fellow grads on LinkedIn, I saw that my good buddy Tim was working at Rome. I thought that was awesome so I got in touch with Tim and we talked design, hockey and snowboarding. I remember being pretty jealous. After a few emails back and forth he mentioned that a position was open for Boot Product Manager. I went down for the “gauntlet” interview. At Rome this is the standard interview process where you meet 6-7 people for 30-45min each. It was a much longer interview than I expected. I only found this out after I arrived and all my plans to shred Stowe later quickly vanished. But, that didn’t really matter because I ended up with a job offer and so I knew I’d probably be shredding Stowe in the very near future.

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Tell us a bit about your move from the great white north to Vermont.

The move itself was easy. There’s some Visa paperwork for Canadians to work in the states, which isn’t too complicated for product designer jobs. The move from Montreal and Ottawa isn’t so bad because it’s relatively close to Waterbury. I still head up North when I miss friends, family, poutine, and the big city (Montreal) and the not so big city (Ottawa). Rome is in Waterbury, nice and close to the hill but I ended up settling in Burlington, VT because it was an easier transition from city life compared to Waterbury, which can get a little quiet. Burlington is great. Lake Champlain is pretty damn beautiful. Whenever I look at it I feel like I’m on vacation. If you haven’t been to Burlington It’s worth the visit, no matter what the season is, it’s all good.

How did you first get started in your field of work? Any tips for people on the come up looking for some advice?

I, like many Industrial Designers get into this field because we are creative, artistic people. I was into art, drawing stuff, building stuff as a kid, and did some computer graphic work, animation and 3D stuff in high school. That sounds a bit nerdy but whatever. Sometimes the guys in the office call the product guys nerds but we’re cool with it. I had no idea what I wanted to do until my dad took me to a local design consultancy in Ottawa called DW Product Development. He took me there to see if product design would be something of interest to me… he was pretty cool for doing that. Anyways, I quickly realized this is what I wanted to do and so I quickly got my portfolio of art projects from high school together and applied to Carleton U that spring.

Carleton has a strong reputation for design in Canada with a good blend of technical and artistic stuff. Some schools can be a little too artsy and it’s good to have that technical side. They also promoted the idea of taking some time between semesters to do internships domestically or abroad. I love to travel and got hooked up through some of the school’s alumni with an internship in the Netherlands. I lived in Leiden for six months, which is a 30 minute train from Amsterdam. I worked with a great team there designing a bunch of different things like water kettles, toasters, baby seat components, stroller components, Heineken packaging, and the list goes on. The experience I gained doing internships there and at DW before graduating were the reason why I got my first job and eventually my job here at Rome. I’d recommend everyone doing internships before graduating; it can literally get you in the door. Any experience is good and international experience even better as you’re exposed to the cultural and lifestyle changes, which are awesome. It is also great to see how different countries approach design.

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What are the best and worst parts of traveling?

Well I traveled to China five times in one year so I could potentially complain a lot, but I don’t usually like to complain about much. I will say that I love travelling. It inspires me and I think it’s great for experience. However, sitting in a plane for 15 hours isn’t fun no matter how much you like movies, and I really love movies. The jet-lag feeling after a two week trip with a 12 hour time zone difference sucks. Fortunately I’m starting to getting used to it.

So, worst things about traveling: Jetlag, airplane food, and difficulty communicating in other countries.

Best things about traveling: Getting inspired, learning new things, trying new food… I love food… frequent flier miles… oh, and at least one minute of every day over there I stop, take a deep breath (usually of heavily polluted air) and say to myself “I’m on vacation.”

If you could go on a trip to shred anywhere, where would it be and why?

I was asked this not long ago and I’m sure I’ll have a different answer every time.  Alaska, Japan, and New Zealand are my current top picks. I’m planning to check off at least one of those this season.

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What new 2014 product are you most stoked about seeing on store shelves?

The new Folsom and the LNP Libertine. Basically the entire boot line.

What’s your current gear setup looking like?

Agent Rocker, top secret boots, top secret bindings.

Last, but certainly not least, what is the Frap Show?

Well Frap is my nickname, most of my buds call me that or Frappier. So that’s the first part. The show happens once in a while. You see I have somewhat of a dual personality. There’s the regular, calm, serious, easy-going Frap… and then there’s the Show. He parties. Plus the name was good for Instagram cause someone already had Frap.  @Frap_show works cause you’re “showing” people photos, like show and tell, right?!

 

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