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Austrian through and through – O+ skis sourced and made in Austria
All you need to know about the ORIGINAL+ R250 concept and our “no ifs, ands, or buts” approach to building “true” Austrian skis
Despite the challenges we have faced in the last two years – there is one thing the crises have certainly brought about: we’ve realized that it does matter what, where and how we consume. Regional products and services are once again gaining importance. In almost every sector and industry, there are more sustainable alternatives to mass-production from the other side of the world. We are proud to set an example for the ski industry with ORIGINAL+ as we stand by Austria as our location – no ifs, ands, or buts.
Not every ski "made in Austria" is necessarily Austrian
For winter sports enthusiasts, skiing and Austria are inseparably related. Austria is the no. 1 ski nation - not only in terms of racing, but also as a winter sports destination. The ski industry is dominated by Austrian companies, too: the four largest "domestic" ski brands Atomic, Blizzard, Head and Fischer have a world market share of over 50%; in Austria that market share even reaches two-thirds.
But on closer inspection, the skis of the top dogs from Altenmarkt, Kennelbach, Mittersill and Ried im Innkreis are not quite so Austrian. At the owner level, there are just two companies that can claim to be 100% locally owned: the traditional manufacturer Fischer and ORIGINAL+. All the other companies’ owners are located partly or entirely abroad: in China, Hong Kong, the Czech Republic, Italy, France, Great Britain and even the Cayman Islands. The production facilities of the traditional brands are also only in parts located in Austria; most skis are manufactured in Asia, North Africa, Dubai, or Eastern Europe – and they come with low or non-existent social, environmental, and labor standards. One consequence is that the carbon footprint of these skis is anything but good due to long supply chains, regarding both raw material sourcing and the delivery of finished products.
R250: We stand by Austria as a business location - no ifs, ands, or buts
In fact, ORIGINAL+ is the only ski manufacturer on the market today that can wholeheartedly call itself purely Austrian – from its ownership structure down to its production. Every single one of our skis is produced in Austria, without exception.
But "made in Austria" means more to us: not only does our production take place here, but our entire value creation also originates within a radius of 250 km around the company headquarters. This means that we source all raw materials, components, and machinery for our ski production exclusively from the region. We are deeply committed to climate-friendly, sustainable business practices. We call this our R250 concept. As laid down in our 2020 master plan, this strategy is not only future-oriented, it has also proven to be extremely crisis-proof, especially recently.
There is exactly one component that comes from outside the R250 radius: flax fiber as used in our touring skis traditionally comes from Belgium and we have not found a closer source for this component to date.
Made in Austria and sustainable: certified trust
Unfortunately, greenwashing and dishonest marketing are huge problems in the sporting goods industry, too.
The ORIGINAL+ approach here is to act with full transparency, to provide very specific information about our initiatives, and above all to rely on recognized certifications.
Our latest step proves that sustainability is more than just a catch phrase for us: we are the world's first manufacturer of FSC-certified skis. This means that from the 22-23 ski season, every ORIGINAL+ ski is guaranteed to be built with wood from forests that are managed in an ecologically and socially responsible manner.
We are committed to a future-friendly (ski) world
And yet the question remains, why do we even bother – especially in times of rising raw material prices – when we could buy and produce much more cheaply elsewhere, just like most of our competitors?
- Because we firmly believe that this is the right way and we do not act according to the principle "after us, the deluge".
- Because we prefer short supply chains and direct communication, and with our regional sourcing we remain able to deliver, even in times of crisis.
- Because we think it's good that we already have very high environmental and labor standards here (although they could be further improved).
- Because we appreciate living and working in a country with a well-functioning social system – we are happy to pay taxes for it.
- Because ski construction is a craft and here in Austria, we have the best ski construction technicians in the world – we even started our own trainee program 2 years ago.
- Because we think it's pretty crazy to send materials and components needed for ski construction around the globe, when almost all system-relevant components (steel edges, bases, sidewalls, etc.) are made exclusively in the region – by high-tech companies from Austria and southern Germany.
- And because we are convinced that, together with our customers, we can bring about change in the ski industry.
We hope that other manufacturers will follow our example.