Given the popularity of the phrase “Made in America” in some circles, it should come as no surprise that “Made in Canada” carries similar sentiments north of the border.
And that’s exactly what the Quebec-based GV Snowshoes is betting on.
“There are a lot of snowshoe companies out there, but we’re the only one that produces everything here in Quebec,” says GV’s Sales & Marketing Director Ilka Tarin. “Most of our materials come from Quebec and everything is assembled here on the Indian reservation. That’s really what sets us apart.”
And it makes sense, of course. Canada is a snowshoeing nation and has an abundance of the various “snowshoe making” resources – including wood for frames, metals for aluminum alloys, crude oil for plastics, and so on. Snow for product testing is never really a problem there, either, but that’s a different story.
Still, GV’s leadership stresses that, as a manufacturer, its outlook is more than just as Canada’s hometown snowshoe maker. The company also markets itself on pure variety, claiming to be the only international manufacturer to produce a full line of wood, aluminum and composite snowshoes, along with some of the only ultralight carbon shoes on the market.
And, according to the company’s literature, GV is the only snowshoe company in the industry today currently designing and manufacturing its own line from start to finish, including everything from product development to distribution.
Originally founded by Antoine Gros-Louis in 1959, GV Snowshoes as it is known today dates back to 1982 when Gros-Louis added Maurice Vincent to his snowshoe-making partnership (forming Gros-Louis & Vincent, aka GV). Since then, the company has expanded worldwide and currently sells to 15 countries in North America, Europe and Asia and operates three manufacturing plants totaling 60,000 square feet of production space.
And, like the rest of the industry these days, GV is optimistic about its future growth potential. Not only is the sporting goods sector bouncing back from nearly two years of limited consumer spending, but snowshoeing is the midst of an explosion in popularity as families look for new ways to get outside and enjoy the winter months. With its large line of shoes – ranging all the way from recreational models to those ultralight racing snowshoes – GV sees itself as well positioned to cash in on this snowshoeing growth spurt.
“Our sales stalled a bit through some of the bad winters we experienced a few years ago,” explains Tarin, “but we’ve been growing a lot since 2009. It really depends on the weather – since you do need snow to snowshoe – but everything is quite good for us right now.”
Going forward, the company is betting on its newly designed buckle to attract new sales and won’t be introducing any new models this year. Designed and built in-house at GV, unlike previous versions, the buckle was created with durability and ease-of-use in mind. It is made from a cold-resistant material that, according to Tarin, is unlike anything else in the industry right now. “It’s like the material that’s used in airplane windshields. It’s very, very resistant to the cold and is not breakable.”
But, technological advancements aside, GV remains a small, service-focused company. Its shoes may find their way around the world – and thousands of pairs do every year – but the company itself likes to hold onto that small, Canadian-based appeal.
“Most companies get their snowshoes from China and aren’t able to offer much in the way of delivery and service,” Tarin says. “But since we do everything here, that’s still our real strength. It’s very easy for us to take care of repairs or handle last-minute shipments.”
For more information on GV Snowshoes, visit http://www.gvsnowshoes.com.