A busy entrepreneur of two great brands, a husband and a father of three, a soccer coach and an avid outdoors man, Mike Schneider is constantly inspiring us to not only get outside and find new places to explore but he’s showing us how it can be done with your family right by your side. Read on to hear us catch up with him and learn more about what makes him a Mark Maker in our eyes.
Born and raised in wild and wooly Lehi, Utah.. spent a couple years going to college in central valley California. Couldn’t wait to get out of there and get back to the mountains. Returned home and moved straight to Alta Ski Area where I lived (and sort of worked) as a ski bum for the next few years. Met a lot of amazing friends during those years and realized that whatever I chose to do for a living, it’d have to be close to the mountains and rivers.
After sowing my oats with a 4 year bachelors degree at the University of Alta. I decided I had better get my life started.
In 2002, I married Lisa Schneider from Alpine, UT. We spent the next few years traveling, working, and spending as much time outdoors as possible. During that time, we opened a small boardshop and clothing boutique near where we live called Union Boardshop. We ran that shop, learned a ton, for two years then sold it to a really cool dude that lived in the area. From there we founded Surface Skis and eventually Causwell.
We are based in Cedar Hills, UT but will be splitting our time between there and Victor, ID starting next summer. Pretty excited about that. We have three kids, Lhotse (9), Estee (8) and Tosh (7) who are all crushing it skiing, fishing, biking and soccer. We get them outside a ton for their age. Pretty cool to try and raise some well rounded kids. We love it.
What motivated you to create Surface/ Causwell?
In 2004, as newlyweds, my wife and I opened a small retail store selling skate/snowboards, apparel, accessories. At that time, there wasn’t much for creativity in the ski industry. We sold a couple of “art driven” snowboard and skateboard brands that really inspired us… but we were skiers! The larger ski brands had that “Nascar” look and feel to them, race car stripes, awful creative direction…very corporate. We wanted to bring something fresh to the table, more artistic, more laid back vibe to the brand that encompassed the ski lifestyle more than anything. With $400.00 in “start up cash” we produced our first pair of Surface Skis and the rest is history. We now sell our skis and products around North America, Japan, Europe, New Zealand and Argentina.
Causwell, we started the brand back in 2009 as a general mountain brand but as it progressed, after I realized that I didn’t want to own two brands that were snow/mountain-centric we shifted the focus to fly fishing, thus the slogan, “Commuting Rivers.” The shift in focus came naturally as I grew up fishing with my father and since, have developed a serious addiction to fly fishing over the years.
Tell us a more about Surface/ Causwell
As I mentioned above, we founded Surface in 2004 and since then, grown the brand into a global brand offering skis of all genres; backcountry, freestyle, freeride. Our skis have won awards from Powder Magazine, Backcountry Magazine and have been seen on major ski films from MSP, TGR and Level 1. We have partnered with brands such as Skullcandy for product collaborations and marketing initiatives as well as underground, design driven brands such as Fairends out of Montana. The brand may have global distribution, but its still very much a “family run” brand. Every decision is made my myself and my wife, Lisa.
Causwell is definitely a work in progress. An extremely small brand that we are having a lot of fun creating and building its identity. The pressure is low. We are focusing our attention on the product line this season by offering custom created pieces from DriRelease (a high end fabric mfg) and some fun accessories like caps and accessories for anglers.
What do you consider success?
Success to me is just being able to be proud of what I do each day, whether its work related or just in life. Sounds cliche, but it ain’t about the money for me. I want to carve out a lifestyle that allows me to spend as much time with my family as possible each day.
How lucky are you and why?
I consider myself to be extremely lucky. I have three healthy kids and an amazing wife who supports me in every way. We live in a great, safe place, and get to spend a ton of time outdoors doing what we do; skiing, fly fishing, hiking and exploring the Wasatch Mountains.
What is one thing you would like to be remembered by/known for?
That’s simple. That I was kind to others.
What is the grandest adventure you have ever been on?
I would have to say our most recent road trip through Montana up into Alberta, Canada this past summer. We loaded the car with fishing and camping gear and set out for nearly a month on the road “Commuting Rivers” and mountains with all three of our children. We saw a ton of country, amazing lakes, rivers and mountains around Banff and Jasper, dodged Grizzly Bears in Waterton Lakes NP, shared our lunch with Black Bears in Glacier NP, caught wild fish in Yellowstone NP and much more. We created memories that our kids will never forget.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Oh man, that changes daily, ha!! Right now, I have the hankering to fish saltwater in Belize. But that’ll probably change by the time this is published!
What has been the most defining experience on your life’s journey?
Having children. Hands down the most definitive time in my life. Everything got real very quickly.
What is your favorite part about where you live?
Utah is amazing. So blessed to live here. We live within 30 minutes of multiple canyons loaded with hikes, backcountry skiing, resort skiing, fishing and more. Then, when we need sunshine and warmth, 2-4 hours to the South of us is the red rock desert of Canyonlands, Zion, Capitol Reef and more. Pretty unique place to call home.
What inspires you?
I catch inspiration from so many things. Mainly people though. There are some amazing people out there with unbelievable stories to tell, both good and bad. I love self motivated, hard working people who have the ability to turn nothing into something. That’s inspiration to me.
What is your personal mantra?
Reinvent and reinvent often!
What are you doing to “Leave Your Mark”?
I feel like I have “raised” my brands in a way that has allowed me to connect and stay close to my customers. I still communicate with kids that bought a t-shirt from us over a decade ago. I get text, emails and calls almost weekly from those people asking for advice for school projects, start up ideas, hair brained ideas, and more. As crazy as it sounds, I hope that I have influenced people enough to believe in themselves to chase after their dreams, even if they make zero fiscal sense, ha!
Follow along on all of Mike’s adventures and check his awesome companies, you wont regret it!
Causwell Instagram: https://instagram.com/causwell/
Surface Skis: http://www.surfaceskis.com/
Surface Skis Instagram: https://instagram.com/surfaceskis/