Merchants of Warmth
When your very first ski outing ends with a broken ankle, there’s a good chance you might turn your back on winter forever. Not Ed Pascal, President of Kombi Sports, who along with his son Mark, Vice President, are the heart, soul and business minds of a company that sells warmth the world over.
Although Kombi’s origins lie in glove making, the father-son duo have since built a head to- toe winter accessories offering that spans from gloves to base layers to balaclavas. “Our product is warmth,” Mark states with pride. “Our goal is to keep you warm from head to toe.”
A Chartered Accountant by profession, Ed began his career at an accounting firm and worked there only one year before meeting Danny Gold of The Gold Glove company, third generation in the Kombi glove dynasty. Finding it impossible to fight his entrepreneurial spirit, Ed accepted a job working alongside Danny, and as he says “the rest is history.”
Embracing Canadian winters.
Kombi kicks off 2014 with a new tagline: Embody Warmth. But where does Kombi warmth truly come from? Seems Canadian winters have all the answers. “If you’re born in Montreal, winter is typically a big part of your life,” Ed explains. “Even though we say we have 4 seasons, winter is the longest. Back in my day, when we didn’t have Game Boy or television, we had to go play outside” recounts Ed.
Now, as a parent and grandparent, his driving force is ensuring that his children feel comfortable on cold winter days. “When it comes to enjoying winter, formy family or any Canadian family, cold should never be a factor.” Mark’s love of winter began at the tender age of three when he skied for the first time. He even earned his allowance shoveling the family’s balcony after a big snowfall. “Canadians truly love winter. I see people getting ready for the ski season in September and October. That is passion.”
Warmth is in the details.
Kombi prides itself in being a grass roots company, looking to athletes and consumers alike for inspiration and feedback. “Our products are known for warmth, quality, value, fit and functionality. We look to Canadian outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds for feedback on design,” explains Mark. “They tell us what’s missing on the glove, and give us ideas on how we can make it better.” His father adds,
“We also work very hard on our collections for children. Children become adults, so if we make them happy early on, they become Kombi wearers for life.”
One design detail that has been a hit with parents is the side zipper with gussets, which makes it easier to help children put on their gloves. Although the design team tends to focus on general winter conditions, Kombi boasts a diverse range of specialized products for head, body, and feet. “It’s all about meeting needs.”
The heart of the brand.
In 2013, the Pascals decided it was time to re-examine the Kombi brand and its core values. Before embracing their new tagline, “Embody Warmth”, they spoke to Kombi sales staff, floor staff, buyers and consumers. Everyone from the weekend warrior to the passionate skier. The question? What does Kombi mean to you?
“Speaking with them, it became clear. And we want to be as clear as possible to the consumer about who we are and what we stand for,” explained Mark. “We are a family brand, inside our office and out. We are about warmth, family values, and of course, our Canadian heritage.”
Text: Ellen Teitelbaum
Photo: Sébastien Bisson