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Inside Snow: Chris AndersonInside Snow: Chris Anderson

Inside Snow: Chris Anderson

March 2024

Step into the world of Chris Anderson, seasonairre turned industry insider. Hear about his journey through sales in outdoor retail, as well as tales from his early days flipping burgers and resort repping in Serre Chevalier, how he went from shop rat to running his own show, and the ups and downs of life as an independent agent with his own agency, Inside Edge. For Chris, the UK snowsport industry is not just business - it's a tight-knit community who share a love for snowy adventures and the occasional après-ski beer.

SIGB: Tell me what your current role is and what it involves.

Chris Anderson: I wear a few hats depending on what brand I’m working on. Predominantly I work with MDV (Marker, Dalbello, Völkl), and for that I'm a subcontractor and I cover the sales for the north of England. I'm the agent for Falke socks and underwear, I'm also the agent for Level Gloves in the north, and more recently the country manager for Zipfit ski boot liners. I love the brands I work with. There is an amazing synergy across all of them despite being completely unconnected.

Sunny morning at the SIGB Snow Test in La Clusaz

SIGB: So, lots of different brands and roles to juggle then?

CA: Yeah, it depends on the brand, but there's a different kind of setup for each of them. People often say to me, how does it work with your brands? It's like, well, which one? Because they all have a completely different set up and different personality.

SIGB: How do you find it managing different roles, products, and customers?

CA: Although the set-up is completely different for each brand, the day-to-day job is basically the same. So, for example, when I used to work for Salomon, I sold gloves and clothing and footwear and jackets and lots of different things. The only difference now, is that they've all got different logos on them.

 SIGB: Have you always been a skier?

CA: We were a skiing family right from day one. I was very lucky in that my dad was a PE teacher and he ran the school ski trip. Back in the day, when companies used to compete for your business, you used to get these inspection tours for free and we used to tagalong on that. Then when I was old enough, I went on the school ski trip too.

SIGB: Did you go straight into working in snow sports?

CA: Pretty much. I had a few of the kind of normal teenage jobs, but when I left college, I went and did my first ski season in Serre Chevalier. I went out as a kitchen porter, but I ended up sous chef-ing and a bit of holiday repping, a bit of bar work, night porter, I moved around all over the shop. That summer I worked for the same company down in Cornwall. I started as a sous chef having never really cooked that much before but after two weeks, I was head chef because the original chef left. I was completely thrown in at the deep end cooking for like 70 kids!

SIGB: How did you break into working the UK snowsport industry?

CA: After a few years doing summer surf seasons and winters on snow, I started working in Snow Togs. It’s a shop in Southampton, one of the oldest ski shops in the country. That’s where I started doing boot fitting and how I got to know Eric Davies, he was the Salomon country manager back then.

I just chanced my arm one day and asked if there were any jobs going at Salomon. I went up and interviewed with them and eventually got a job.
Earning turns at Winnats Pass, UK

SIGB: How did you convince Salomon that you were the right person for the position?

CA: It was Sonia Prior (now Sales Director at Bradshaw Taylor) who interviewed me, and it was that story about taking the chef job on even though I didn't know what I was doing, that got me the job at Salomon.

She said, “If you can do that, you can do anything.” So, that's what got me in, jumping in with two feet and learning on the go. She was a bit of a mentor for me and still is.

SIGB: Is mentorship something that you’ve found valuable as you’ve found your feet in the industry?

CA: Sonia was someone that I've know nas an experienced, knowledgeable person since I've worked in the industry, so it was helpful to have someone to ask for guidance. She's always been very good to me and been very good with giving advice out.

 SIGB: How did you make the transition from working for Salomon to where you are today?

CA: I sold Salomon clothing for four years and then moved over to hardware. I did that for about two years and then I got made redundant. It was a blessing in disguise really, it is good to be forced to move on sometimes. I started chatting to David Sawyer-Parker who worked directly for Völkl, Marker and Dalbello at the time. I started doing staff training for Völkl and we built the agency out from there.

 SIGB: What was it like going from working for a big corporation to running your own business?

 CA: Initially, it was tough. You put in a lot of work in for a brand without immediate pay. You handle the samples, sales, orders, you wait six months, and deliver it before finally getting paid. The first year was challenging but Dave and I persevered, expanded our portfolio and we’ve built a dynamic team.

SIGB: What would your best advice be for somebody who would like to take a similar path to you?

CA: I think there's a lot of value in finding a balance between getting noticed and being humble at the same time. Many people succeed by being the loudest, but that doesn't always make them the best to be around or the most effective at their job.

You do need to put yourself out there, engage with people, and seek opportunities. From my experience, simply talking to people and asking for opportunities worked.

SIGB: What's the best thing about working specifically in the UK snow sports industry?

CA: I love how tight knit it is as a community. You just turn up to any event and there's just a bunch of mates. It makes some things hard because you are close to the people you work with. But there's not many people in the industry I wouldn't want to be stuck at the bar with. I think that's quite unusual really. However, the best thing about the job is obviously being able to go skiing and calling it work!

SIGB: Do you still get enough skiing these days?

CA: Definitely. I've skied in some places that I never would've skied without being part of this world. I mean, you’d always want more skiing, but realistically, I don't think I could in all good conscience sit here and say, ‘Hey, I need more.’ 

Keep up with Chris @ Inside Edge

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