“Everyone is in the industry for a reason…because they made it there. If you plan on stepping into the industry, know your side and be nice to everyone. Ride hard and don’t talk about it. Do what people tell you to do and earn their respect; it will all pay off one day. My first few years made me feel like an intern, not a team rider. The most important thing to remember is to have fun! C’mon… it’s snowboarding.” – Dru Williams, Flow Ambassador
We had the opportunity to catch up with Flow Snowboarding Ambassador Dru Williams in Utah, who offers some valuable insight covering the last several years working with Flow and his time in the snow sports industry. We will cover his growth from grom to Flow Snowboarding Ambassador, his productions company 43 Productions LLC, his band Halfway Humble, and even his humbling trip to Thailand.
What would you consider your home mountain to be?
“I grew up snowboarding in Indiana at a local hill called ‘Paoli Peaks.’ It was a great place for me to start this long lasting lifestyle. My friend Kalyn Gibson and I ran the terrain park, which allowed us to build and promote the terrain park and resort as we pleased. It was a great place to learn because it was essentially a big hard sheet of ice. It is essentially 300 vertical feet of bliss and has been providing the Midwest with action packed memories and concussions three months a year for over 40 years. The place reeks of Coors and the Carhart camouflage wearing enthusiast. I am damn proud to call it my home mountain.” (Check out Dru Williams’ Paoli Peaks edit)
Where was the first place you went snowboarding?
“Like most people… my backyard. My brother Alex and I would get old skateboard decks and strap them to our feet while being pulled behind a 4-wheeler. It was a Midwest rednecks dream come true, but obviously didn’t work well. Mind you, we were skidding in two inches of fresh Indiana powder. We earned those damn turns. We smelled like exhaust and gasoline after.”
Did you ever ski first, or straight to riding?
“Haha! At age 12 I clicked in for a few weeks. My Mom bought me a brand new pair of skis, bindings and boots for Christmas. This was essentially my first piece of hard good snow gear I had ever owned. She was beyond pumped to get them for me and I was excited to receive them. However, once I got to the peaks I knew it wasn’t for me. A few weeks later I told her I wanted to trade them at the Paoli Pro Shop for a snowboard. She was livid. Not that she cared that I was snowboarding… but she had just spent seven-hundred bones on a new ski set up for me, just turn around and trade them in for half the price.
But, I cannot thank my Mom enough for traveling with us and taking us to so many resorts and competitions in the early years. That was truly what helped shape and mold our young futures. Every season my mother would load up the Chrysler mini van and take my friends and I to every competition in the surrounding area. She traveled between states throughout the Midwest with a load of smelly kids in the back. Our young crew had a good record of dominating the competitions we rode in, so the rides back were always nice and loud (with a stronger stench of victory.)”
What are some of your favorite Apres Ski activities?
“Putting your feet up and relaxing is the best thing to do after a long day, but that depends on how heavy of a day it was. If it was a day of shooting or being shot, I will spend the evening sorting and logging footage. If it was a weekend day at Brighton you can normally find the crew and I at Lone Star Taqueria or Spedelli’s after a long day of riding. Best tacos & pizza in the valley!”
What is your current Flow setup? (Boots, Board(s), Bindings)?
“The technology that Flow puts into their product is unreal and it’s best to utilize that tech on specific days and conditions. For park, I prefer something softer. Currently my set up is 2014/2015 155 Era snowboard, size 11 Hylite boots and Fuse SE bindings. On those deep days, I prefer a stiffer set up like my 157 Darwin snowboard, size 11 Solite boots (some might know what these are yet) and NX2-SE bindings.“
You have been involved with Flow since you were 17. Can you recap how you started working with Flow and the different responsibilities you’ve held over the years?
“One night after a long night session of park riding, I was walking out to my car (just got my drivers permit) and I stumbled upon the Flow van. Adam Sharp, the Midwest Flow rep at the time was always at the peaks checking on one of his accounts and getting his shaved ice turns in. I had met Adam before and talked to him about Flow and snowboarding. When I walked past the van he stopped me and we chatted for a bit. After our conversation he pulled out a brand new Era snowboard and handed it to me with his card. It was a grom’s dream come true and I was beyond stoked to receive the gear, but I didn’t really know what it meant at the time.
The following winter we linked up in the early season and it all began from there. Countless hours traveling in the Flow van throughout the Midwest hitting shops, on snow demos, competing in contests and in summer rail jams. The first winter I hopped on-board with Flow was the last year that SnowSports Industries America (SIA) was held in Vegas. Imagine little me at 17 years old, hopping on a flight to Vegas all by myself, not knowing what to expect.
The years continued and I became much tighter within the Flow community (this included team members and upper management within the company.) I’ve traveled to countless demos and contests with sales managers and even board designers. I soon started to realize how important it was to meet these people and make them a constant contact. I am now 25 years old and nothing has changed. I have attended SIA with the crew the last seven years (now in Denver) helping show the upcoming product lines, attending meetings, shooting video and being a strong ambassador of Flow like the rest of the team.”
Could you describe what your current responsibilities with Flow are?
“Currently, I am a Flow R&D team rider. The ride and development team is responsible for riding and testing future products. Essentially, I shred as much as I can and log my day on a spreadsheet or make my review into a video. What I like… what I don’t like… How this binding feels with this strap, compared to this other strap… You know, that kind of thing. I also occasionally help Flow with their video needs.”
Any advice to those out there looking to get involved in the snow sports industry?
“Remember names and don’t step on toes. Everyone is in the industry for a reason…because they made it there. If you plan on stepping into the industry, know your side and be nice to everyone. Ride hard and don’t talk about it. Do what people tell you to do and earn their respect; it will all pay off one day. My first few years made me feel like an intern, not a team rider. The most important thing to remember is to have fun! C’mon… it’s snowboarding.”
You recently moved to Salt Lake City. How’s the move going?
“I am 15 minutes away from six of the US’s best resorts, what more could you ask for? It was crazy moving from a small town in Indiana to a larger city with actual mountains. I have gained much more respect for all of the different styles of snowboarding. It opened up a whole new world in the snow community for me as well. Instead of sneaking into a sorority party at Indiana University for example, you are now welcomed to an Electric Goggle Halloween party instead. It’s exactly where I dreamed I would live as a kid, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.”
Tell us a little bit about 43 Productions.
“43 Productions is my production company that was established back in 2006, but became an actual LLC in 2012. I knew if I packed my car up and was moving out West, I better have a back up plan. My main focus with the company was to shoot snowboarding, but we have branched out immensely upon request. 43 Productions was contracted with Powder Mountain resort last season to shoot all of the awesome contests and events they hold every season, which was a great opportunity for us.
We have also dipped our feet into real estate and architecture firms requesting video needs for continuous projects throughout the valley. We couldn’t be more pleased with results. I have vast business plans for 43 Productions, LLC that are currently in the works and things are starting to shape up nicely. Next winter will be huge for us.”
What kind of activities do you do in the summer to maintain your riding shape?
“The house I just moved into is right down the road from In-N-Out, so I am currently on that diet and it’s working out great. Besides that, I picked up mountain biking last summer, which is way too much fun out here. I ended up investing in a bike and couldn’t be more pleased with how fun it is. I also have a dirt bike that I enjoy taking out into the desert and getting lost with. Snogression in Salt Lake is also a great way to keep your riding sharp, but it takes a small mortgage and a few classes to get through that.
I try to keep a normal gym routine throughout the summer, but that schedule normally lacks in persistence. Recently, our band Halfway Humble has been practicing non-stop for a few upcoming shows we have. I have noticed that the best work out for me is just drumming for 3 hours straight, it keeps your arms tone and you get to bang on shit. Why wouldn’t anyone want to work out this way?”
What was your favorite moment from last winter?
“My first road trip of the season to Colorado was great. I left late on a Thursday night and stopped at a few shops on the way for Flow. These stops consisted of dropping sample product off and chatting (or just saying hey) and making sure the shop has everything they need. I arrived in Aspen late Thursday night and stayed the entire weekend for X-games. Our cabin was unreal and the experience I had with the crew is something I will remember for forever.
On that Sunday, I packed my car up and headed to Denver for a full week of SIA, where I was reacquainted with the Flow crew & team. It was a full week of cranking business, partying hard and good music. We then loaded up the Flow van and headed to Copper Mountain for the on-snow demo and a few good days of solid riding. The weather was perfect and the vibes were high, it was the perfect way to end a two-week trip with the Flow team & crew.
Once I arrived back in Salt Lake, the ground was covered with over 3 feet of snow. Which meant my backyard park that my friends and I built was ready to be tested. Some of my other favorite moments from last season come directly from my backyard. Check it out here on my Vimeo channel… Outback The Movie.”
What are some of your passions in life other than snowboarding? Activities, hobbies, studies… etc?
“I have a strong passion for music that will never go away. I’ve played the drums longer than I have done anything else, and I seem to still learn something new after every practice. Music is something that is always changing, making it hard to keep up with. When a band tries to “keep up,” a new sound will normally develop and the crowd will become pleased…and then you repeat.
I wouldn’t say that studying is a passion of mine, but I did plenty of it in College. I will say that studying subjects that are obsolete to your major will cause major headaches and unwanted stress. If you are an art student, go to an art institute. If you are a filmmaker, go to ‘Full Sail’ University. The big Universities with multiple schools and majors are for the kids who are unsure of what they want to do; I found this out the hard way. I also really enjoy woodworking. My buddy Corbett and I built the entire backyard park out of scrap and recycled wood. These are things you don’t appreciate until you get older I suppose.”
Any places you love travelling to, not related to snowboarding?
“I went to Thailand over a year ago and fell in love with the culture. It also made me realize how lucky most of us are. I saw some things that made me both sick and happy. One memory that sticks out the most was at the black market in Bangkok, where knock off Vans are about four US dollars and you can leave the place with any cheap female you pick if you desire. I remember seeing a small family sitting on the corner begging for change. The kids were basically naked and you could tell that help was needed.
I walked over and gave them three or four custom printed band t-shirts that I had just bought for myself. I also gave the kids Flow stickers and they were ecstatic. (Yes, I was tagging Bangkok left and right with Flow stickers). The mother of the family was so happy she started crying. She then grabbed my wrist and whispered something in Thai into my ear. To this day I still think about that family. I’m also still wondering what the hell she whispered to me. Self-Kudos was earned on that trip.”
Anything else you’d love to say to the Flow Snowboarding supporters and family?
Please don’t break up with me… Seriously though, I can’t thank the Flow family enough. Flow has provided me with opportunities and experiences that I only dreamed of as a kid. It’s cool to look back on the last seven years of my life and see how involved Flow was and still is. This brand has pushed me in such a positive direction and has helped drive me into entrepreneurship. Don’t get me wrong, snowboarding would still be insanely fun without Flow, but I can’t thank you all enough for the support and love and I hope that feeling is mutual. Thank you again, cheers to many more.”
Dru Williams has been riding Flow Snowboarding gear ever since he was a grom. When did you start riding Flow gear? We would love to hear about it. Please connect with us at Flow Snowboarding via Social Media and hashtag #FlowSnowboarding.