STROLZ - PIONEERS
AT THE ARLBERG SINCE 1921
History of a Legend
The invention of modern ski boots started in Lech almost 100 years ago, shortly after the invention of skiing – which also happened here, at the Arlberg. In 1921, Ambros Strolz opened his shoemaker’s workshop and made leather ski boots for the not so very numerous skiers of that time. Of course, at that stage he could not imagine how big the company was to grow and that it would still adhere to the same standards he had set for himself: manufacturing ski boots at the highest level of his craft, from superb materials, individually hand-crafted for his customers.
From Ski Racer to Entrepreneur
Ambros’ son Martin followed in his father’s footsteps as orthopaedic shoemaker, but first of all prepared the market for his own products. He was an extremely successful member of the Austrian national ski team, and thus his own test pilot, product developer, ski star and promoter. Besides many other top racers, he also equipped his friends, Otmar Schneider and Egon Zimmermann, who both became Olympic champions in Strolz boots. At the 1954 ski world cup in Swedish Åre, Martin Strolz became vice world champion in downhill racing, in Strolz ski boots, of course. From then on and after he ended his active racing career, the international skiing elite, above all the Austrian national team, were his customers. For over 25 years, Martin Strolz equipped many international ski teams. He had everything which predestined him for developing and manufacturing ski boots of the highest quality: experience as a top ski racer at world level, craft skills, orthopaedic expertise, and the absolute determination to achieve perfection. So it was only natural that Martin Strolz should take over his father’s business and start extending it. But Strolz ski boots were not only intended for ski racing: skiers from all over the world treasured the ski boots made from best leather, hand-crafted in Strolz’s own workshop in Lech.
The Art of Switching Materials
Over a period of 15 years, the business grew and flourished, and towards the end of the 1960s saw itself confronted with a major challenge: the first plastic ski boots were introduced, and so the era of leather ski boots had come to an end. Martin Strolz recognised the opportunities and risks of this new technology, for while Strolz had amassed immense experience with the craft tradition of leatherworking, mould construction and injection moulding were a completely different matter. Both this technology and the materials used were geared towards the production of large numbers, and that contradicted the Strolz philosophy of providing the best possible individual fit and one-off manufacture. But Martin saw the advantages of the new technology and knew how to adapt it for his purposes. Of five renowned manufacturers of leather ski boots in the German-speaking world, only Strolz succeeded in switching to plastic ski boots. In 1969, Strolz launched their first own plastic ski boot – the model “Competition” was put on the market. While at first, they still experimented with plasticised leather and exchanged patents with a mass manufacturer in order to rapidly build up know-how, Martin very quickly concentrated on his strengths and took charge of the production of the plastic shells in-house again.
Several Vocational Trainings, one Vocation
Since 1990, Martin Strolz’s son, Hannes, has run the company. Hannes first of all trained as an orthopaedic shoemaker, and then went to Munich to study Graphic Design. For the design of ski boots also was to remain one of the core competencies in the Strolz family. When Martin Strolz retired from business, Hannes took over the family-owned enterprise in the third generation. His orthopaedic expertise and his knowledge of design are the secrets of his success.