Arlington inventors get patent, find manufacturer for snowboard/ski creation

Bentley and Lynn Marks, center left and right, have found a way to mass-produce their invention, thanks to Steve Sanders, far left, and Walter Chen, far right. -
Bentley and Lynn Marks, center left and right, have found a way to mass-produce their invention, thanks to Steve Sanders, far left, and Walter Chen, far right.
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ARLINGTON — Arlington residents Lynn and Bentley Marks have just gone international.

Last year, the married couple’s invention, which combines skiing and snowboarding, had attracted the attention of a national TV program hosted by William Shatner.

Last month, the Markses received an allowance of patent for their invention, marking the culmination of a patent application process they began four years ago.

At the same time, the Markses’ Slider Corporation has found a manufacturer for their invention, to mass-produce it in high numbers and high standards of assembly.

The invention attaches two snowboards to one another, with a steering handle in the front, and has already been tested on Stevens Pass. In spite of interest from distributors like Costco, Bentley realized that he was limited to custom-orders, since he couldn’t produce the “Yetis” fast enough to meet mass-market demand, nor could he find a local manufacturer to do so.

Steve Sanders, of the La Conner-based Sanders Enterprises and Associates importers, saw the reactions of onlookers to the Yeti when it was displayed in a coffee shop, and saw a solution to the Markses’ problems.

“I shipped my 65-pound prototype overseas,” Bentley said. “They sent me back their own prototype version of it that only weighed 23 pounds.”

“They” are the manufacturers of the Taiwan-based Firdi Industrial, whom Sanders knew through his business with Firdi’s Walter Chen. Sanders emphasized that Firdi is certified as meeting ISO 9000 manufacturing standards, and is aiming to meet AS9100 standards next.

“I’ve been skiing for many years and I’d never seen anything like it,” said Sanders of the Yeti. “The way that people gravitate to it is amazing.”

The Markses laughed about how they’d sent their prototype in a crate that weighed 150 pounds, and Chen sent their version of the prototype back in a box that weighed less than 30 pounds.

“We wondered if there was just styrofoam in there,” Bentley said. “I wish we’d saved the box, because the packaging was just beautiful, but we were just so excited that we ripped it open.”

The Markses are hoping to get their first shipment of Yetis in time for the holiday season, and plan on premiering the invention at the Ski Institute of America convention at Las Vegas in January. In the meantime, they’re planning on visiting Chen’s manufacturers in November, and are already planning second- and third-generation improvements to the Yeti.

“Getting our patent was just the icing on the cake,” Lynn Marks said.

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