In a certain way, the Rome SDS was started in 1985 by two high school kids. They just didn’t know it yet. That winter, the future co-founders of the company, Paul Maravetz and Josh Reid, were seniors in high school, unknown to one another and separated by several hundred miles. But they each strapped in and took the first step that would ultimately bring them together to start Rome in 2001.
Back in 1985, snowboarding was in its embryonic rather than infancy stage. After a few years of bombing hills on Snurfers, Paul and Josh independently hiked up local sledding hills, strapped into early-era snowboards, slashed their first turns, and dragged their first knuckles. Well before snowboarding jumped into the Olympics and energy-drink video productions, Paul and Josh hiked those hills for one reason… snowboarding is fun.
For Paul and Josh, like for many who have found the hedonism of sliding sideways, snowboarding would realign the priorities of their lives from that point forward.
After those first turns in 1985, it took the Rome SDS another 17 years to actually get off the ground. In the intervening period, Rome’s future founders became heavily involved in the emerging scene of snowboarding through its formative years of the late 80s and early 90s — spending years arranging university class schedules to accommodate snowboarding and subsequent years working low-end jobs in western resort towns (Jackson, Breck) to ride every day. During the second half of those 17 years, they cut their teeth working in the business side of snowboarding, spearheading innovative product and marketing for a large snowboard brand based in Vermont.
During the late 1990s, the business of snowboarding fell into the hands of people clueless about its culture and apathetic towards its intrinsic worth — people who simply saw snowboarding as a new revenue stream for a broader corporate entity. Not surprisingly, it was a phase in which the industry stagnated and deviated from the primary values of snowboarding.
In 2000, with a combined 30 years of living and working in snowboarding between them, Paul and Josh decided to take advantage of a latent opportunity to fill a void in snowboarding. They came to the conclusion that it was time to break away from where they were working and re-consolidate snowboarding around a direction based on the values that got them into riding in the first place.
They spent the following winter in a marginally-heated office above a garage in Stowe, VT, planning the specifics of how to launch and build this new direction. Broad concepts, precise ideas, product planning, brand logos and the business necessities were proposed, discussed, revised and then revised again. The manifesto that emerged as the winter thawed out was to bring together a diverse group of people who care deeply about snowboarding in order to create a brand that lives the values of snowboarding and innovates products that increase the one thing that matters most in snowboarding: fun.
What went down in the winter of 2000-2001 in that garage office was the birth of The Snowboard Design Syndicate—a riding-fixated, innovation-based movement to put snowboarders in control of snowboarding.
From 2001 until today, it’s been an experiment in building a business rooted in snowboarding. Whether it is designing a new board camber, developing innovative binding technology, crafting unique riding clothing or pioneering approaches to snowboard video production, Rome has constantly pushed to create new expressions that are rooted in the act of snowboarding and the values of snowboarding. Regardless of what we’ve done, we’ve always tried to keep it our creative endeavors designed by snowboarding.
After all these years since making those inaugural turns on the golf courses of New Jersey and Massachusetts, the founders of the Rome SDS continue to seek out the hedonism of sliding sideways and to merge it with the business side of snowboarding. Rome’s constant progression on the slopes and in the marketplace continues to realign snowboarding with the true values of snowboarding, and with people who in some way have realigned their lives with riding as well… people who consider themselves snowboarders.