At 31, Jon Callahan has achieved a unique level of success in the action sports industry as both a professional snowboarder and the Founder and CEO of Launch Snowboards, one of the industry’s most exclusive snowboard companies. Callahan grew up skateboarding and became hooked on snowboarding at the age of 10 as a way to stay on a board all year long. At that time the sport was so new that riders were more test dummies than experts. He shoveled snow to save up to buy his first board, choosing an upcoming independent brand, Morrow, and a slick 151’. His first ride was on the hills of a local park in his hometown of Nutley, New Jersey. “I had no idea what I was doing but I bought the board at 3pm and was at the park until 12am. There was no turning back,” he says of his obsession.
At that early stage in the sport’s life, no one knew what was possible with snowboarding and Callahan, with his limitless curiosity, was happy to be a pioneer. By the age of 12, he pulled his first method and was quickly becoming a regular at New Jersey’s Mountain Creek Resort. He was first approached to ride professionally during his senior year in high school, but he turned down the opportunity to study at Caldwell College in New Jersey. While majoring in Business and minoring in Graphic Design and Marketing, Callahan continued riding at Mountain Creek, averaging 50 rides a year.
During his freshman year, he signed to ride professionally for a number of brands and took to the slopes of the Catskills, Mammoth, and Tremblant. For four years, between 2004 and 2008, Callahan rode for various sponsors and competed. His most notable accomplishments include competing at the Chevy Grand Prix, a national tour known for being a U.S Olympic qualifier, and placing 9th and 10th at the Specialty Sport Pro/Am competitions at Mountain Creek.
Armed with a degree, pro riding experience and a keen business sense, Callahan was intrigued by the opportunity to play by his own rules and really meet the needs of riders with a new line. After years of research and development, he officially established Launch in 2008, flying in the face of the recession. At Launch’s first showing at the 2009 Snowsports Industries America Snow Show, the line quickly became known for its renaissance approach and as an insider’s board.
Today Launch is ridden by top tier athletes like Brent Meyer, J.J. Thomas, Elle Kaylor, Anthony Tonton, Brandon Schmidt, Billy Brown, Austin Schweyher and Evan Price. Since 2009, Launch boards have sold out every year and production has doubled. However, having seen brands expand too quickly, Callahan prides himself on finding a steady growth that never compromises the quality of his product. As Launch evolves, Callahan remains humble and connected to his roots. His number one priority will always be to support the snowboard and action sports community. He consistently aligns his brand with amateur series like the 3rd Rail, the United States of America Snowboard Association and the Nikiita Chickita Swiss Tour.
As he brings Launch into the future, Callahan is excited about further developing Launch’s board collections and apparel line. “The 2013 collection promises to be the most exciting yet,” he says.