Maker Monday: Panther Boards
Panther Boards is a student-run company at William Tennent High School that produces fully custom, high-performance skis. The business offers student employees a unique way to gain experience as entrepreneurs through taking on executive positions in marketing, finance, technology, human resources, product design, graphic design, supply chain management, and hands-on production.
Panther Boards creates each board to match customers’ preferences for maneuverability, capability, and design. The company and its products have been popular with both U.S. and European clients since it started manufacturing in 2017. Recently, we spoke to Dan, the current CEO of Panther Boards, about how the business has impacted his education, future plans, and personal growth.
How did you become the student CEO of Panther Boards?
I was invited by Centennial School District Superintendent Dr. David Baugh and the former student CEO of Panther Boards when I was a sophomore. I worked with the former CEO as vice president, where I job-shadowed to learn the information and knowledge necessary to take on the role myself as a junior.
Initially, I was interested in Panther Boards largely because I plan on majoring in economics. Getting to know the ins and outs of the manufacturing industry and how running the business applies to my field will be beneficial for my future. I’ve also become pretty good with the entire process and can build a pair of skis on my own.
What do you like most about Panther Boards?
AS CEO, I get to manage the staff and all the other executives. It is fun establishing goals for them to pursue and guide where they need to go in their own roles to grow. I’m learning to work on something bigger by collaborating with my fellow classmates and making sure that everything with the business runs smoothly. Managing Panther Boards is a great hands-on opportunity that is sometimes missing in education, and I’m able to work at a real-life business while I’m in high school. One of the most important aspects I’ve gained is the experience. It opens opportunities by providing practical skills that I will need as I continue to pursue my education.
Has working for Panther Boards changed your perception about manufacturing careers?
In the beginning, I wasn’t interested in manufacturing, and I wasn’t really doing anything involving that skill set. To me, it seemed outdated. Working here has given me a new, interesting proposal for my future. Seeing a project through from start to finish with my own hands is inspiring, and because of that, I’m reconsidering what I might do in the future.
What have you learned from working at Panther Boards?
I think one of the biggest things I learned was more hands-on, like how to handle tools correctly to make the skis. From the CEO perspective, I learned everything about running a business like managing payroll, employee’s schedules, tracking inventory — even answering emails professionally. My fellow executives and I are making real decisions that affect the success of the business while also having the support of faculty to help us along the way.
Every year, the business is what we make of it. Working with Panther Boards has truly taught me how to work with people and solve problems, which has helped me on group projects in school and in my own life.
The Maker Monday series features Pennsylvania manufacturing employees discussing their work, what it’s like to be in the industry, and why they love what they do.
To learn more about the manufacturing industry in Pennsylvania, visit the DCED website.