Success Story: Gilson Snowboards of Pennsylvania and Penn State

Gilson snowboards are beautiful to look at and revolutionary in design. Unlike typical flat bottom boards, Gilson boards have a unique three dimensional curved surface that adapts fluid and aerodynamic principles to snow. Nick Gilson, along with his business partner Austin Royer, are former middle school science teachers who developed their concept during a year-long hands-on lab experiment for students. They brought their vision for a better snowboard from the classroom in Nashville, Tenn. to central Pennsylvania, where they built a workshop by hand to make what a growing number of fanatic snowboarders are calling the best snowboard in the world. 

The company, founded in 2013 on a former dairy farm owned by Austin’s family near New Berlin, now has 11 employees and sales that are growing by 300 percent year over year. Nick Gilson credits their success, which now includes international sales, to the aesthetics and the quality of construction of their boards. Each snow season, members of the Gilson team crisscross the country from mountain to mountain, putting their board into the hands of snowboarding enthusiasts.

The Penn State connection  

While working on their most advanced design, the Gilson fabricators ran into an issue with the adhesives they were using. Through their local Industrial Resource Center, the Gilson team was put in touch with Josh Stapleton, director of Penn State’s Materials Characterization Laboratory.

“Josh came out to the shop and had us make different samples, which he then analyzed back in the lab,” Gilson says. “Once we turned the knobs and got the adhesive to work well, we didn’t want to just set it and forget about it. We wanted to understand the science, and Josh helped us do that. We now have a relation with Penn State, and these guys in MCL, who are not only good people but also super smart.”   

Watch the video describing the Penn State/Gilson collaboration created by the Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Centers: