H. William “Bill” Kirschner, the legendary founder of K2 has passed away
H. William “Bill” Kirschner, the legendary founder of K2 passed away Saturday, April 23, 2006 at the age of 87. Kirschner is survived by his wife of 66 years, Barbara, his sons Bill (Susie) Kirschner, Bruce (Karen) Kirschner, all of Vashon Island, and his daughter Becky (David) Pendleton of Vancouver, British Columbia.
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VASHON ISLAND, Wash. â€“ H. William â€œBillâ€ Kirschner, the legendary founder of K2 passed away Saturday, April 23, 2006 at the age of 87. Kirschner is survived by his wife of 66 years, Barbara, his sons Bill (Susie) Kirschner, Bruce (Karen) Kirschner, all of Vashon Island, and his daughter Becky (David) Pendleton of Vancouver, British Columbia. He also leaves behind his grandchildren Brad, Victoria, Kimi, Kalie, Elly and Greg, and five great grandchildren.
The early history of K2 has all the elements of an American business legend: modest beginnings, rapid expansion, and an excellent product with a worldwide reputation. The legend began in the days following World War II, when the Kirschner family was doing business on Vashon Island. Kirschner Manufacturing produced splints and animal cages utilizing reinforced plastic. The company became a leading manufacturer of specialized research cages, but the Kirschners were always looking for new products to build.
In 1961, using a pair of borrowed skis as a pattern, Bill Kirschner made a pair of fiberglass skis to use for an upcoming winter vacation in Sun Valley. They worked so well that he decided to produce them commercially. He took his concept to Anderson & Thompson Ski Company (A & T), a Seattle-based distributor of ski equipment and his “concept” came to life, forming the foundation of what K2 is today.
In 1964 Kirschner Manufacturing delivered 250 pairs of skis into the market. The following year it was 1,600 pairs, and by 1967 it seemed obvious that this ski business could stand on its own. Bill separated the business from Kirschner Manufacturing and named the company K2, after the world’s second highest mountain and for the two Kirschner brothers, Bill and Don.
Bill retired from K2 in 1982 and in 2001, he was inducted into the U. S. National Ski Hall of Fame, honored as â€œone of the great ski entrepreneurs of the 1960s, the golden years of the United States ski business.â€ Bill received the 2005 Distinguished Service Award from the School of Engineering at the University of Washington.
Today, the flame that Bill Kirschner lit 45 years ago burns brighter than ever. The K2 brand is featured on the company’s snowboards, inline skates and bicycles, in addition to the alpine skis that formed its humble beginnings. During the 2005/06 winter season, K2 Skis were #1 in the US market in both unit sales (volume) and dollar value. Many people in the sporting goods business got their start in this business because of Bill Kirschner’s vision. Bill gave them a chance and asked for nothing in return except remembering him as a â€œgood boss.â€ Bill Kirschner’s entrepreneurial spirit helped make K2 the premier brand it is today on a worldwide basis. He will be remembered as a â€œgood bossâ€ and will be dearly missed.
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