Skichair.com makes chairs for people who want to ‘play in style, rest in style.’

 

The Skichair is constructed from Port Orford cedar and used skis. In designing the chair, Michael Bellino, chair man of the boards, said he wanted something that reflected a “play in style, rest in style” attitude.

“The idea for making furniture came about after I purchased a home on the lake and wanted something that represented my lifestyle ­— ‘work hard, play hard,’ says Skichair.com Chair Man of the Boards, Michael Bellino.



At the same time, a local bike and ski shop Bellino worked at was going out of business.



“I wanted to do something that would allow me to stay in the ski industry,” Bellino adds.



Armed with a chair pattern purchased from the back of a Reader’s Digest and some Port Orford cedar, Bellino went to work making his first chair, an Adirondack.



“After making a pair of them out of wood, I realized I needed to modify the design,” Bellino says. “I decided that making a curved back and other simple changes to the ottoman would help make the chairs as ergonomically correct as possible. Three chairs and one week later, my Skichair design was created. I have not changed my pattern since.”



Bellino says he uses his contacts in the ski industry to get the boards that become part of the chair. He gets the skis from their manufacturers who would otherwise have to pay a disposal fee for the used sporting equipment.



After making Skichairs for his family and friends, and establishing his Web site, Bellino began to build his business. He added new products and thought of ways to market the chairs.



With the logos still in place on the skis that made up the chairs, Bellino realized what a good marketing tool the chairs could be.



“The marketing departments [of the ski companies] could, and eventually would, use these chairs as a marketing tool for their larger shops, at the mountain resorts and at key ski events,” Bellino explains. “Companies were saving thousands of dollars in disposal fees and I was enhancing their brand recognition.”



Bellino also began displaying the Skichair at various sporting shows, as well as signing up dealers.



Bellino says he got his biggest break in 2004 at the SnowSports Industries America Show. The show had oversold its booth space and had to use some of the lounge space Bellino had secured.

“This would be the single biggest break for Skichair to date,” says Bellino. “The show used my chairs and benches instead of spending thousands on renting tables and chairs.



“Because we appeared so popular, Snowpress Magazine wrote an article about the company. With the article in Snowpress Magazine and product spread throughout, we were the talk of the show and dealers, mountains, the media and companies started asking questions, placing orders and buying product.”



Bellino began by doing all the cutting and drilling himself, but as the orders began to increase, he found a company with CNC equipment that would machine the wood for him. This cut down construction time from about four hours per chair to about one hour per chair.



In addition to snow skis, Skichair.com makes and sells chairs using water skis, snow boards, wake boards, skate boards, baseball bats, hockey sticks and golf clubs. A set of plans is also available for do-it-yourselfers interested in building their own Skichair.



For more information on Skichairs and Bellino’s other products, visit www.skichair.com.

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