Jake + Donna
Few company founders have made an impact quite like Jake & Donna Carpenter’s.
Meet Jake and Donna Carpenter
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 something much different on his mind. Inspired by Sherman Poppen’s Snurfers, Jake had a vision that sliding sideways on snow could grow to become a legitimate sport. He ditched the job and moved to Londonderry, Vermont, where he became caretaker of a barn, the perfect venue to begin making his ‘Burton Boards.’ By night, he bartended at the Birkenhaus Inn. By day, he built snowboard prototypes and tested them on the backhills 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 at the Mill Tavern Inn. They married just a year later, and she became integral to the process of building Burton and introducing snowboarding to the world.
While Jake worked tirelessly to expand the company and legitimize snowboarding, Donna’s first jobs included dipping snowboards in polyurethane and answering the customer service line that rang in the bedroom. In the mid-80s, Donna led the expansion of Burton’s business to Europe and ran the company’s first international office in Innsbruck, Austria. Next, Jake asked her to make Burton a brand and employer of choice for women. Burton now has progressive parent policies, mentoring programs, and a gender-diverse leadership team.
It has all grown more than they ever could have imagined, but their privately-owned company remains true to the values that inspired it, and the constant guiding principle to always put what’s best for snowboarding first.
Early on, Jake told interviewers that his goal in life was to “make the best snowboarding equipment in the world.” As both Burton and snowboarding took off, his goals evolved to include another mantra: “Have as much fun as possible.” One year Jake made a formal commitment to ride 100 days that season and every one that followed. Another he and Donna decided to take their family on a trip around the world, running the company from the road and documenting every second. Burton’s rallied around this work-hard-play-hard mentality and it came to define our cultural ethos.
Jake passed in 2019, but Donna continues to serve the community and the brand as chair of the board, and owner. Their legacy continues to grow alongside Burton’s global community, season after season, with every new product line, every unforgettable experience, and every day spent pushing progression while having as much fun as possible.