Austin Royer ’10: Making Waves on the Slopes

Photo provided by Gilson Boards
Austin Royer ’10 and his business partner, Nick Gilson, developed a radically new snowboard that is taking mountaintops by storm

February 18, 2016

Austin Royer, a 2010 earth and environmental sciences grad, and his business partner, Nicholas Gilson, live and breathe snowboarding and the culture that's emerged around it.

Having met as middle school science teachers in Nashville, Tenn., their mutual love of snowboarding and propensity for invention led them to create Gilson Boards in 2014. The manufacturing plant is located just 10 miles from the Susquehanna University campus, in a building that once belonged to Royer's grandfather.

Royer's and Gilson's experimentation began while they were still teaching. Based on a concept Gilson developed while he himself was still in middle school, they set out to make a radically different kind of snowboard-a board that can cut through the snow like a boat through water.

Innovative Design Sells Internationally

Although their first attempt failed, Gilson and Royer forged ahead with a second and then a third prototype, ultimately developing a board that can travel 26 percent faster than the standard board on the market.

Their secret? A patented "precision contoured base technology" created with the coefficient of friction in mind, much like their logo that, Royer said, shows off their "geek side." What looks like two mountain peaks is actually a stretched script of the Greek letter Mu, the scientific symbol for the coefficient of friction. And, as Royer explained, their 3-D base design lowers the coefficient of friction, allowing for a controlled drift and more fluid motion.

Armed with this innovative design and new career path in mind, they returned to Royer's hometown to begin production. Since then they've been crafting their all-American made snowboards with materials and services found in the central Susquehanna Valley. When they're not building boards, they're building their brand from the back of an AirstreamTM travel trailer on mountaintops across the country.

Their best compliment to date? A report from a friend, shreddin' the legendary slopes of Jackson Hole, Wyo., who sent word that their boards were all over the mountain. But in fact, their boards are all over the world, with shipments going as far away as South Korea and Australia.