Snowshoe company expands (10/8/09)

Oct. 15, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

The North American distribution and production facility for an international snowshoe company has changed locations in Williston, doubling its size. TSL Snowshoes moved into the former Hampton Direct headquarters on Pioneer Drive off South Brownell Road last month.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
Ted McGuinness, president of TSL Snowshoe’s U.S. branch, holds up a composite snowshoe at the company’s new headquarters on Pioneer Drive.

Ted McGuinness, president of the American satellite of TSL Snowshoes, said the new facility will allow the company to expand its offerings and “explore new avenues to increase revenue.”

TSL Snowshoes makes high-quality snowshoes and winter accessories for adults and children. The company started in France in the 1980s and has fast become Europe and Japan’s premier snowshoe makers, McGuinness said. He added the company is making inroads into the U.S. market, especially in the Northeast. Its line consists of two types of snowshoes — aluminum-frame and composite snowshoes.

“This is our fourth year of production in the U.S. and we’re growing at a rapid rate,” McGuinness said.

TSL Snowshoes, which has six employees, used to be located on Avenue C in a 4,900 square-foot office space, which McGuinness said the company quickly outgrew. The new location offers more space — 11,700 square feet — and more amenities. The space opened up when Hampton Direct moved its operations to the former KBA North America building on Hurricane Lane in July.

At TSL Snowshoe’s new location, there is increased room for storage, shipping, receiving and plenty of room for its production department. All of the company’s aluminum-framed snowshoes are built in Williston, using mainly domestic products. McGuinness said two companies in Vermont supply the snowshoe company with parts, and only one source is located outside the United States, just over the border in Quebec. The company also distributes the composite snowshoes produced in Europe to outfitters across the country.

In recent years, the company has edged its way into the American snowshoe industry. McGuinness said TSL’s main competitor is the former Vermont-based Tubbs Snowshoes. That company, which made aluminum-frame type snowshoes popular, moved its production facilities overseas and its headquarters to Seattle when K2 Sports bought the business earlier in the decade.

When Tubbs left Vermont, TSL snatched up some of the former company’s employees. Doing so allowed TSL to develop its own brand of aluminum-frame snowshoes and, McGuinness said, at a higher quality.

“It was the perfect time to start up a partnership in the U.S.,” McGuinness said.

At local Vermont resorts, many snowshoe rentals are now exclusively TSL brands. McGuinness said winter sports enthusiasts can demo TSL snowshoes at Catamount Family Center, Bolton Valley Ski Resort and Stowe Mountain Resort, among other places.

Much of the company’s recent success has come because of the snowy winters in the Northeast over the past two years. More snow means more business and the potential to add jobs at TSL.

“Right now, we’re really hoping for another big winter,” McGuinness said.