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Since Day One

The year was 1977. Jake Burton Carpenter had recently graduated college and was working 12 to 14-hour days at an investment firm in New York City. Lucky for us (and millions of snowboarders), he had bigger and better things on his mind. He quit his job and moved to Londonderry, Vermont, where he started making ‘Burton Boards’ in a barn where he served as caretaker. By night, he bartended at the Birkenhaus Inn. By day, he built makeshift snowboard prototypes and tested them on the back hills of southern Vermont.

In 1981 Jake moved from Londonderry to a farm in Manchester, Vermont. The barn was the factory, the living room was the store, the basement was the warehouse, and the bedroom was the office. On that New Year’s Eve, Jake met his future wife Donna Gaston. They married just a year later, and she became integral to the process of building Burton and introducing snowboarding to the world.

Jake shaping a Backhill board in Manchester VT, 1981

Improving the product was Jake’s obsession, and he worked tirelessly with the riders to make it better. But the next decade would present a whole new challenge: convincing ski resorts to let snowboarders on the chairlift. Before snowboarding was on primetime TV, or in the pages of magazines, riding sideways was banned at ski resorts. Jake, Donna, and Burton played a pivotal role in getting resorts to allow snowboarders on the mountain and worked tirelessly to get more people standing sideways.

Passion for Progression

In his intro to the 1994 catalog, Jake wrote, “Check into any feature: we didn’t do it to be cool. We saw a need for it, tested it, and made it work.” This is the process that has fueled Burton’s progression ever since. The design cycle demands evolution in everything we produce—whether we’re incorporating rider feedback or sourcing the best possible materials and manufacturing resources, we never quit making things better.

Ever wonder why we have a team of pro riders? Well, Jake saw an early need to have riders out there testing the product seven days a week and thought, “they might as well be the best in the world.” Over 40 years later, the approach remains the same: listen to the riders. But it’s not just pros. We take input from everyone, including the folks that call our Burton Guides.

The motivation to keep pushing forwards inspired Burton to open its first European office in 1985. In 1992, the company moved its factory and headquarters to its current home in Burlington, Vermont. Throughout the coming years, Burton continued to spread its roots around the world. 

We Ride Together

Through the ever-evolving market landscape and cultural revolutions in snowboarding, music, art, and the lives of everyday folks, Burton has adapted and kept the spirit the same. We have offices in Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea. Our community is grounded in our purpose of being a force for good, and passionate about doing things our own way. After all, that’s what Burton’s been about since day one. 

Riding isn’t just an activity. It’s a state of mind—seeing the world differently, being creative, expressive, and driven. It transcends the physical act of sliding on snow. Every choice we make presents an opportunity to stand sideways. We choose to push forwards while having as much fun as possible, even when it means choosing a line that’s yet to be ridden. 

Jake passed away in 2019. As Burton carries on his legacy, along with the lifestyle, community, and mindset that he and Donna helped create, it’s important to remember where we came from. When we listen to that community, they say it’s time to stare the future in the face. Keep snowboarding alive for generations to come. Keep opening doors to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in every aspect of our lives. Keep finding more sustainable practices to protect our playground. And most importantly: keep enjoying the ride.