Venture is a small, independent snowboard manufacturer, nestled in Colorado’s remote San Juan Mountains. Owned and operated by the husband and wife team of Klemens and Lisa Branner, the company is dedicated to handcrafting high performance snowboards and splitboards while minimizing environmental impact.
The dream of creating the ultimate ride began in the winter of 1986, when the financially strapped, 15-year-old Klemens built his first board with scrap materials from his father’s workshop: plywood, rubber straps, spray paint. It rode like a closet door, but he was hooked.
Over the next ten years, snowboarding played an increasing role in Klem’s life. His choice of graduate school was linked closely to his passion, and in 1997 he and his sweetheart, Lisa, moved to Fort Collins, Colorado – a stone’s throw from many of the state’s ski areas.
While studying engineering and renewable energy at Colorado State University, Klemens also worked part-time for a snowboard company. These experiences inspired him to incorporate sustainable materials and techniques into the snowboard manufacturing process. From this spark, Venture Snowboards was born in 1999.
In these early days, Klemens struggled to balance the business and his studies, both of which took a back seat to riding whenever snow began to fly. In 2000, he finished his degree, moved to Denver, and devoted himself completely to Venture. Lisa worked various day jobs to make ends meet, and burned the midnight oil to keep pace with the company’s marketing and public relations needs.
After a two-year stint in the big metropolis, where Klemens perfected his designs, the Branners grew tired of city living. They decided it was time to head for the hills and began scouting for a new location. Flanked by some of the most incredible mountains in the lower 48, southwestern Colorado emerged as a top choice.
The Branners relocated to the Durango area in the fall of 2002, where they focused their energies on taking Venture to the next level. After several winters of non-stop travel, endless demo tours, and countless sales visits, the company had outgrown the Branners’ cramped basement workshop. It had also expanded enough that Lisa could quit her day job. Following their addictions to snow and steep lines, in March of 2007 they moved Venture’s factory and headquarters to Silverton.
Situated at 9,318 feet above sea level, Silverton is surrounded by the rugged peaks of the San Juan Mountains, Colorado’s largest mountain group. Outside of Alaska, no other mountain range in the U.S. has a higher average elevation. The town is also home to the extreme ski area, Silverton Mountain, and its expert-only terrain. Combined with nearly limitless backcountry opportunities, it offers a perfect laboratory just steps from Venture’s front door.
Venture now inhabits a commercial space just north of Silverton proper, and is hatching a scheme to build its own factory right next door. In keeping with the company’s environmental ethic, plans for the new facility include passive and active solar features, as well as the use of sustainable, recycled, and reclaimed materials throughout.
There, with a small band of dedicated riders, the Branners will continue to operate one of the industry’s smallest and most progressive snowboard companies – and pursue their dream of creating the ultimate ride.
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