About Sidecut Tuning

Read About us in VancouverSun.com April 7th, 2015. VANCOUVER SUN Newspaper — Christian Hillier isn’t your typical entrepreneur. He probably doesn’t even think of himself as one.

But that hasn’t stopped his fledgling Whistler ski tuning startup from growing into a national brand sought after by weekend warriors and professional racers alike.

Hillier introduces himself as a ski coach, not a founder and CEO. He talks about the need to provide better education, not the need to drive sales and increase profit margins. And he says he runs workshops, not product demonstrations or business pitches.

His company bought its first ad this winter, after 23 years in business without investing a nickel on marketing. If you Google Sidecut Tuning, Hillier’s company, you won’t find much, just his website, a Facebook page, and a few instructional YouTube videos.

“I started Sidecut because I wanted a set of tools that functioned perfectly and integrated together,” Hillier said in an interview. “Sidecut’s growth has been completely organic.”

Despite Sidecut’s absence of marketing, the brand has quietly grown through word of mouth. Its tools are now widely considered the most trusted by everyone from technicians in tuning shops, to national team athletes around the world.

To the ski racing community, Christian Hillier’s name has become synonymous with the highest quality of performance coaching. He obtained the highest certification of Canadian ski race coaching, the Canadian Ski Coaches’ Federation Level 4, the youngest Level 4 at the time and completed his elite coaching study at the University of Victoria's, National Coaching Institute.

He completed 30 back-to-back winters, alternating between the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere. In his mid-20s, he did his work experience with the Canadian alpine ski team. Later he founded the Australian ski coaching certification body, and became the Australian national team’s head coach afterwards, before coaching the Netherlands, New Zealand & British national teams.

As a coach, Hillier found in Canada there was both a lack of high quality tuning tools and an understanding of how tuning impacts performance. Too often his racers would come to practices with skis that were poorly serviced or tuned with mediocre tools.

Hillier figured he could merge his ski racing acumen together with his mechanical skills to create top performing tuning tools. Luckily, his father, an engineer, and two uncles owned and operated an equipment production shop.

“During the night time, when nobody was around, I used to sneak into the shop and play around with the machinery,” Hillier said.

The equipment production shop is where Sidecut truly started. It was his lab for experimenting with prototypes, and the race hill became an extension of that lab, with ski racers testing and giving feedback on the tools.

Very quickly, race club athletes also became his first customers. They trusted Hillier as their coach and as a designer for ski tuning tools. But Hillier had another competitive edge. In races where skiers can reach speeds of 130 kilometres per hour and races can be won and lost by fractions of a second, skiers knew Hillier could teach them how to use the tools to make a difference.

Hillier spent the past 15 years travelling with his teams around the world, but he kept Sidecut operations back at home in Whistler. Friends helped him with storage, packaging, and delivery.

Through that time, Hillier never thought much about investing his time or money into advertising to drive more sales. He believed that providing an exceptional product in combination with the right education was the best way to run his company.

“What sets us apart could be that we're possibly the only ski tuning company out there in the world that can say that a professional ski coach not only designs, manufactures, and sells its tools, but also teaches you how to use them.” Hillier said.

“I think the reason why Sidecut has been around for so long despite not doing any marketing, and continues to be used in tuning shops and race clubs, is because people trusted me as their coach first and foremost, and knew I was devoted to help them succeed.”

At the beginning of last winter, Hillier decided to take a break from ski coaching and return home to Canada. He began visiting different race clubs and retailers to run workshops on ski tuning.

He also put together a series of instructional YouTube videos, called the Sidecut System, teaching people how to use Sidecut tools to tune their skis in a four part series that totals 15 minutes.

“People loved the workshops and videos. Within the last 20 months, Sidecut sales tripled, and YouTube videos hit 10,000 views in only a few months,” he said.

Hillier plans to continue growing Sidecut through the same formula that helped the brand grow this winter — provide education as the driver of awareness and interest.

Hillier doesn’t think of himself as a genius entrepreneur. He considers himself an educator. He has made it work so that it’s all the same thing.

Tony Xu is a Level 3 Canadian Ski Instructors’ Association instructor, who writes a column for The Vancouver Sun’s online Ski Guide. Email: tonyxujournalism@gmail.com

Source: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/smallbusiness/Whistler+tuning+startup+national+brand/10949842/story.html#ixzz3XDbZYriD


"Our primary goal is to positively impact the on-snow experience of as many skiers and snowboarders as humanly possible. Ultimately, we feel this is possible only by providing our customers with an exceptional experience that keeps them coming back. By selling high-quality products at an affordable price we positively affect the on-mountain experience of our customers and contribute to the betterment of the global snow-sport community by providing easy to understand educational tools and workshops. Helping those less knowledgeable in regards to ski and snowboard tuning leads to enhanced skills and more fun on the mountain”. - Chris Hillier, President of Sidecut Enterprises Inc.

Not all tuning products & waxes are created equal, and neither are the companies that sell them.

Whether you know nothing about tuning and waxing products and are just starting your research or you have been using tuning gear for many, many years, we all have one thing in common: we want the highest quality tools, with easy to follow instruction.

There are many companies that sell ski & board tuning product and waxes. What makes Sidecut different? What makes Sidecut the best tuning product company?

The PEOPLE. The owners. The vision. The management team. Our experience. Our ambassadors. Our facilitators. Our customer service team. The warehouse team. And last but not least, the BEST customers. We go above and beyond just selling the highest quality tuning products and wax. We want to do more. That is why we created the first ever ‘learn by doing’ - ‘learn to tune’ website with easy to follow online educational tools. We travel the country and abroad demonstrating and coaching anyone interested in becoming a better tuner – to be a better tuner. Because we want every one of your turns to be their best!


Sidecut was born from humble beginnings in a high-end precision machine shop in Waterloo, Ontario. Founder Chris Hillier, the son of an engineer went to his father with an idea to design some tools to tune skis. Hillier spent the summer nights of 1992 turning out parts on his families CNC machinery. Sidecut was conceived.

Soon after Chris moved to Invermere, BC to commence the formative years of an illustrious 25 year coaching career, during which time he simultaneously started selling his new designs to Western Canadian ski clubs and coaches. Sidecut was born.

In 1995 Sidecut relocated to ski mecca - Whistler, BC. Year by year Sidecut expanded its product range and became a household name amongst a niche community of competitive skiers in the West. It wasn’t long before the name Sidecut became synonymous with the highest quality ski tools.

For the next 20 years, Chris was passionately dedicated to the athletes and coaches he was training and educating. At the same time, he embarked on a quest to refine and grow his range of tuning products. Chris spent two decades coaching elite athletes in Europe, Scandinavia and the Southern Hemisphere. During this time, Chris learned from some of the best and cataloged his ideas.

Fast forward to 2013 - Hillier took a break from the whirlwind, world-wide 100,000+ mile-a-year global travel lifestyle to return to his roots in Whistler and focus solely on his company. Being a coaching educator, it made sense to him to not only produce the best tuning tools in the industry but also to teach people how to use them. During this period of incubation, Sidecut ‘learn to tune’ workshops were born. Hillier began visiting local ski clubs. Through word of mouth referrals, news of his sessions spread quickly and he was soon offering workshops as far East as Newfoundland. “Old school” marketing he called it.

Sidecut workshops have catapulted across Canada’s skier community and are expanding globally. Hillier has recently put together a clever team of experts that have unveiled Sidecut as a new brand on a global scale. However, the founder’s original vision to design the highest quality tuning tools and provide the knowledge that snow-sport enthusiasts need to reach their maximum potential, remains intact.