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Thursday, December 3,2009

Local company picks up ski equipment, delivers after tuning

By Ryan Casey

Of all the things in all the places on our massive planet, Brad Wolfe’s inspiration for his Boulder-based ski-tune company came from pizza delivery in South America.

Wolfe, the owner and founder of Organo-Lawn, a local lawn care company, was faced with a dilemma prior to trekking in South America in 2005: what, exactly, does one do with a lawn care company in the winter? Plow snow?

“I’m a big skier,” he says, “and every time it snows, I want to go skiing. I don’t want to be working.”

It was that passion for skiing that led him to a local ski shop for a tune before setting off to South America. Wolfe asked to have his equipment back within a week. Two weeks, he was told, was the earliest return. But two weeks, in his mind, was unacceptable. So, come to think of it, was having to drive to a ski-tuning shop.

In South America, everything came together. Because of Organo-Lawn, he had a fleet of delivery trucks at his disposal and a database that handles routing. Why don’t we just make it basically like pizza delivery? he thought.

Pizza delivery? “You rarely go pick up your pizza anymore,” Wolfe says, “and we’re hoping you’ll maybe rarely go drop off your skis anymore.”

Wolfe’s concept — Colorado Ski Tunes, a delivery-based tune shop — has taken off. When the company first started in 2006, they were taking in, by his estimate, four pairs of skis a week. Now, that’s up to 30.

“People have been trying us, and we really have been getting a lot of compliments on repairs,” Wolfe says. “We have a lot of time on our hands, so we really take the time to do a really excellent job.”

That’s due in part to the attention to detail each pair receives. In lieu of a machine, each wax is done by hand. (Hand wax lasts an average of three days, compared to a half-day from a machine, Wolfe says.)

Still, the company’s biggest draw remains the fact that they do all the lifting. Literally.

Customers in need of a ski- or snowboard-tune can schedule a pickup through ColoradoSkiTunes.com or by calling 303-443-1584, and expect their equipment back within 48 hours.

“People don’t come to us,” Wolfe says. “We go to them.” A basic tune costs $22.50, while a professional tune runs $40. A basic wax scrape is $12.50. The delivery area boundaries run north to Longmont, south to Highlands Ranch, west to Golden and east to Aurora.

As a special to new customers, two tunes cost the price of one, and delivery is free. Colorado Ski Tunes also makes a concerted effort to be environmentally friendly.

The office and shop run on 90 percent self-generated solar power and 10 percent wind power. For the tuning process, Wolfe buys biodegradable emulsion fluid instead of the cheaper non-biodegradable option. (Emulsion cools equipment and allows the skis to slide properly.)

The delivery trucks run on biodiesel fuel; even the uniforms are made of 100 percent organic cotton. Wolfe is working on a program that would allow his technicians to recycle wax. Currently, he estimates, about 50 percent of the wax during a given tune is wasted.

“We just try and reduce waste, and all the standard things, and then also a lot more,” Wolfe says.

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