The snow has been falling and ski season is officially here in Southeast Idaho.
So this month on “Made in Idaho” we visited a look at a Pocatello company making big moves in the ski industry.
Panda Poles in Pocatello started from big ideas, years of skiing, and lots of experience.
"I've had a couple shoulder surgeries, and I'm very sensitive to catching my poles in trees and snagging them on stuff,” explains Tanner Rosenthal, Chief of Panda Poles. “So it just made since to make a cone shaped basket that wouldn't snag in trees and wouldn't get hung up in brush and that kind of thing. So I saw the bamboo, saw the baskets, it all came together in a vision and I said this is something I've gotta do, this is my calling."
Their ski poles are made from two types of bamboo from India and Vietnam - but they are hoping to change that soon.
"We just started growing our own plants in Georgia two years ago, so hopefully those plants will be available in the next two years," says Rosenthal.
Bamboo poles might have some people skeptical - so they put the Panda Poles to the test against other popular types.
"Our bamboo thrashed all three of them, no problem,” smiles Rosenthal. “Just ripped right through them, and left a little tiny scuff on our pole. So if you can cut in half an aluminum pole with ours, I think it's good enough for skiing."
Panda Poles has over 1,800 different ways to customize. Rosenthal’s favorite combo is the Ninja grips, on Tasted Bamboo, with the Katana basket.
Ever since their website went up in 2011 they have received immense support from the Pocatello community.
"Some days when I'm up at Pebble I would say one out of every four people has them, there's a massive amount of support we get from the local community,” says Rosenthal.
"When I first started seeing it, it was an overwhelming experience,” he explains. “Like wow, this thing I had in my head is now being used by this person on the slopes."
Panda Poles has big plans for the future - from new products to being more sustainable.
"I would love to see us making bamboo with merino, alpaca wool, and hemp. Just take those four materials and create a whole apparel line."
He hopes the company can eventually have their own farm to grow the materials.
Panda Poles has 12 international accounts and has been sold to 25 different countries worldwide.
You can buy your own pair of panda poles at East Fork Bikes in Pocatello or at: https://www.pandapoles.com/.
And an added bonus? Locals get a discount.