In the corporate world promotions usually come by changing horses. In small business America it’s still done the old fashioned way – from within; starting low and working your way up. Taylor Johnson was recently promoted to General Manager of Freeheel Life Industries and Miles Shaffer is the new Shop Manager. FHL is a business umbrella comprised of a Telemark-only retail shop, product manufacturing including hand crafted skis and Bluebird Day accessories, plus an online media arm including Facebook and Instagram accounts plus a dedicated Telemarkskier.com website and vBulletin forum.
For Taylor Johnson, life with Freeheel Life was a natural extension of his interest in Telemark skiing. It started by posting a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #SpreadTelemark. He noticed Freeheel Life “liked” it. A short investigation on the web revealed FHL was only two blocks from where he was working, so he dropped by to see what FHL was all about.
When he stopped in, Josh Madsen, FHL’s founder, learned that, besides being a loyal Telemark skier, Taylor had some e-commerce experience. That was 2016. He started hangin’ out, helping Josh and Ashley Berkowitz with the shop and the online store. At first it was just for the fun of being involved with a sport he loved, but it soon became a time commitment. His first “paycheck” was a pair of Freeride bindings. To use ‘em he had to borrow a pair of Prophets from the shop. The next year, 2017, Taylor became FHL’s first real “employee.”
During the same time frame Ashley was there setting up the shop, painting the walls, interacting with customers, and managing finances. She just handed the CFO reign’s to Taylor’s brother, Alex Johnson.
Since Tay became the shop manager in 2019 the retail shops revenues have grown by half each year, doubling sales in two years in spite of the change to “normal” business operations. There are now six seasonal employees, and the shop sells more telemark boots than any other single shop in the world. Taylor Johnson was a major force in creating that track record and now he’s GM of FHL Industries, not just the retail shop.
What does Taylor see for the future? Besides maintaining the shops momentum of killer service and product selection he sees steady growth in the products FHL will build in-house. The acquisition of Bluebird Day products was a first step in that direction. Building the Protector ski is a second step, an essential step to creating Telemark products that keep the revenue inside the world of businesses committed to preserving the sport of Telemark skiing.
In addition to Taylor driving FHL, his void as the shop manager will now be fulfilled by Miles Shaffer. “I’m super excited for Miles in his new role as well! He’s a great example of what hard work and persistence looks like. He’s going to make an incredible FHL Shop Manager,” said Josh Madsen, owner of FHL.
The delegation of duties at Freeheel Life Industries begs the question, where’s Madsen in this picture? Long story short? His vision is bigger than just Telemark.
It’s just business
With FHL’s mission safely in the hands of trained tele warriors he is devoting his remaining abundance of energy to real estate. In his words, “I’ll still be the Owner of Freeheel Life Industries and will still produce my weekly Freeheel Life Podcast. I’ll be focusing my full-time energy on my residential real estate business here in Utah. I’ve been doing that for a few years already, but now I’ll be able to focus 100% of my energy on that.”
If you’re looking for property on the front or backside of the Wasatch, Madsen wants you to know, “I’m your guy.”
And if you’re just looking for some freeheel gear, you know where to go.
Not sure who Taylor Johnson is? Check out his Lowdown YouTube videos here.