When Rossignol first hired Ryan Green back in 1998, the field sales associate felt he should hide his nordic ties a little bit – at least when dealing with alpine companies.
A nordic rep as well, he had picked up the sport in college to stay fit during the cycling offseason. He developed his skill sets in both markets, and in 2006, delved further into downhill as product manager for Lange and Dynastar.
“I’ve always had the alpine stamp on my forehead,” Green said in a phone interview from Rocklin, Calif. “The joke I’ve had with everyone is, I’ve been a (secret) nordic skier all my life.”
He came out a little bit while at Rossignol, deepening his affection for the sport with racing. An alpine racer at a similar level, he had never been elite – he just loved to ski.
Still, he had to be careful of where he flaunted his skinny skis.
“When I was product manager, not many alpine ski companies want people to know their manager is a cross-country ski guy,” he said.
As of about two weeks ago, Green was proud to be branded as such. He accepted Rossignol’s position of nordic division manager for the U.S. market in late September, about two years after he left Lange and Dynastar for Superfeet.
According to Ron Steele, Rossignol’s vice president of sales, the company underwent major structural changes in 2006 as the economy turned sour, and Green was a casualty. He stayed close to Rossignol as product manager at its affiliated alpine companies.
Meanwhile, Rossignol moved its headquarters from Vermont to Park City, Utah, and brought longtime employee Robert Lazzaroni with it. Formerly a nordic combined athlete on the French National Team, Lazzaroni became the U.S. nordic manager in 2004 after representing Rossignol in Finland.
Seventeen years after he started with the company in France, Lazzaroni, 44, announced his departure from Rossignol this summer. He left to manage the new U.S. distribution branch of another company, One Way Sport, which began in Finland and struck a deal with Rossignol in 2007.
Back then, Lazzaroni facilitated One Way’s pole distribution, working closely with the company’s president and CEO, Andreas Bennert. A few years later, it became apparent that a separation was inevitable.
One Way wanted to sell its own skis and boots by 2012/13, which directly conflicted with Rossignol’s retail line, Lazzaroni said. He had also pushed for Rossignol to sell One Way’s soft goods, but its executives weren’t interested.
“I have been for many years with Rossignol so it was very difficult to make the move,” he said, adding that One Way would continue to distribute through Rossignol through the winter of 2012.
“Rossignol U.S.A., we have been so strong, the (market share) unbelievable, and I don’t see how we can make a step up,” Lazzaroni said. “If I could not do better, it’s not fun anymore. There is good possibility and good potential for the One Way product.”
In early September, he helped the company establish a base in Park City, just minutes away from his old workplace. There, Steele said Lazzaroni’s decision to leave was a loss, but he was excited to rehire Green.
“At least we know who we’re getting,” Steele said after first hiring Green in 1998. “We had an 11-year experience with Ryan and that was something that was weighed quite heavily.”
On Monday, the 37-year-old Green will start in earnest with a plane trip to France for an international meeting.
“It’s baptism by fire, if you know what I mean,” Steele said.
Moving about 700 miles east with his wife and 23-pound cat, Bernie, Green said he was looking forward to it.
“The most important aspect of my job going forward is really having an understanding of what the market needs,” he said.
An avid athlete in several endurance sports, including triathlons and various forms of cycling, Green said he knew what the demands were in terms of testing and product decisions despite not being an elite skier. On the recreational side, he said it was important to provide compelling products at appropriate price ranges.
His time spent as a sales rep at Superfeet improved his retail skills, he said, and gave him a unique understanding about how the foot works. That translated to product knowledge, especially with ski boots.
Despite being away from Rossignol, he kept skiing.
“In general, it’s like I haven’t left,” he said. “Just a little sabbatical.”