Up until Jake Burton’s memorial, I knew he had an enormous impact on the trajectory of my life. I had always felt that he was an important source of inspiration but, until then I had failed to internalize the full extent of how he had been a mentor to me in the way he lived his life. As my business partner Mike and I were driving from Evergreen to the airport in Denver, it began to hit me – thoughts about the first time I met Jake, and started working for him at Burton, and everything that had happened since.
I realized that I owed him so much… In fact, once I started digging into the thought, I realized that so many good things in my life today happened because of Jake Burton. That path started in ‘95, when I quit my job in Mammoth and went on what ended up being an eight month journey of soul-searching and looking for the direction I wanted my life to take. I was an engineer and a designer. I was also passionate about wilderness, adventure in the outdoors. My free time was spent snowboarding, hang gliding, mountain biking and rock climbing. The only option I was willing to look at was a job in sports equipment design and engineering. Finally, months after beginning my search, I got the job at Burton. I packed up my life and moved across the country, from west coast to east, and started my new life in Vermont as a design engineer.
While I was working at Burton, my life went through some drastic changes. I met my wife, Meghan. I met my best friend, Mike, who has been my business partner for the last 15 years. I bought a house, got married, and had two children. I loved my job at Burton. The snowboard industry was growing like crazy and the design development and engineering that my team was doing was way out ahead of the industry creating huge year-over-year growth for Burton.
I thought about all of this as we made our way to the memorial in Vermont, and it weaved it’s way into all of the conversations that ensued through the rest of the day. We went into town and spent the next day in the Burton office where I was so excited to hang out and talk to the design development engineering team. I stayed in Vermont for Thanksgiving, and celebrated the holiday with my wife and her family. Between plates stacked full of turkey, my thoughts drifted back to Jake. The more I thought, the more grateful I felt for the fact that my life had been so tuned up by his.
It became clear to me that my understanding of the spaces we work in – how they are designed and the way that they are furnished has a profound influence on the way we work – were lessons I learned in the time that I worked at Burton – and was therefore just one more thing that I absorbed in being within Jake’s sphere. In this way, it was because of Jake and my experience at Burton that Mike and I dreamed during those years about our future joint businesses; The Public Works and Battery621. From what we experienced during those years we were inspired to start the Supple Collection and to create furniture that would inspire and support innovation and the lifelong learning journey. Working at Burton was where I learned about Core Values, how to get a team to fully buy into them and live by them. It was from Jake that I learned to constantly and intentionally be searching for ways to pull down the barrier between work and play.
Today, at Supple, like Jake did every day, we live to make the world a better place with how we live each moment of our lives to the fullest, enjoying the way that we are able to weave together our work and our play such that we can’t see where one stops and the other starts.
–Frank Phillips, Owner and Creative Director of the Supple Collection