In the fall of 2005 I was finishing up my last class for my bachelors degree at the University of Utah. I was working in the call center for Questar Gas and hated my job. One night while on TetonGravity.com I saw an ad for a job with a local ski shop. I applied for the position and got a call back from Christian, one of the two employees at Level Nine Sports. He asked me a bunch of questions and decided I needed to come into meet with him and Rich, the owner. I remember that interview well: at the time Level Nine was in a small warehouse in a industrial park on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley. I remember pulling up and telling myself, “OK this is a online shop and its a foot in the door to the ski industry.” To be honest, the place was run down. The desk was right when you walked in with a small fitting room for boots. Rich looked like he may have slept there the night before working late.
Needless to say I got the job. It was a tight operation that consisted of Rich the owner, Christian the returning employee, Jon the mounter, John Boyd the baller (he packaged stuff and did some marketing) and me. The first few weeks were wild! I did internet order processing (at the time most the online sells were through eBay), packed boxes, wrote an ad for the back of a ski magazine and did what ever I was told. After about two weeks we started prepping for the ski swaps which at the time was a big money maker for Level Nine. Prepping for the swaps sucked and getting to the swaps and setting up was a lot of work. The swaps themselves however were awesome, I found out I love to sell stuff to people, and watch a satisfied customer walk away with what they needed. Some swaps went better than others but over all it made money.
As the season progressed Rich opened up the warehouse for retail use and customers started coming in. It was great! Locals loved the deals and the website started gaining some traction. For the first half of the season I was not quite sure what to think of Rich. I had no idea at the time if he liked me or just thought I was some fat ski loving guy. As the season wound down Rich took us on the first of many cool trips. Sure, it was just a night up at Solitude with our wives and then skiing paid for the next day but it was a great time. It was on that trip that I realized Rich was cool guy. He did things his way and he cared about me as a employee and wanted to thank me for my work I had done. As the season finished and I got my first job out of college, Rich asked me if I would come back and work in the retail store in the fall so of course I said I would. I had no idea at that moment I would still be here 10 years later.
I have been fortunate enough to come back year after year and during my time at Level Nine I have watched this company grow. I have worked at 3 other retail locations since the first warehouse in West Valley. I was once one of five employees and am now one of forty plus during peak season. It has been a incredible experience that has greatly impacted my life. You might ask how can a shop affect ones life so much. Without Level Nine I would have never discovered my love of sales and have now worked professionally in sales for 9 years. I would have never traveled to SIA in Denver, Whistler, Hawaii, cat skied in Idaho and have gone on a great cruise with the L9 crew. I would not have gotten to purchase as many skis as I have owned over the last nine years, (I think there is a standing joke about what skis will Tyson get and ski twice this season). However the thing I would not have that has made my life great is the friends I have made working at Level Nine the last 10 years. I consider the people I have worked with friends and some of the coolest people I have met in the last 10 years. So here is to 10 more years of great friends, experiences and more skis.
By Tyson Bringhurst