Lifetime Love

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At a local ski area in Pine Hill, N.J., in 1978, 11-year-old Wayne Cimperman was so determined to ski every possible moment that he did his homework on the chairlift between runs. It was this determination that led to the success of SkiLift, now a large manufacturer and online distributor of ski and snowboard novelty items.

When Cimperman reached high school, his father took him on a ski vacation to Tahoe, where the eager teen resolved he would attend college. At his send-off, Cimperman's father offered his son sage advice: "Invent a product that skiers will buy, so you can make a decent living in a ski town."

With a sewing machine and old seatbelt webbing, Cimperman engineered a portable ski and pole carrier. On one of his drives cross-country, Cimperman showed the prototype to ski shops all along the way. He figured that by the time he hit Reno, he'd be a millionaire. "As it turned out," he recalls, "I barely sold enough to pay for the tolls along the way." Struggling to make it in Reno, Cimperman sold his car to buy more materials before finally landing a loan for $25,000. Soon thereafter, Cimperman doubled his product line to include his second invention-a shoulder strap to carry boots.Cimperman's perseverance and passion for skiing eventually created a business that sells more than 100 ski, snowboard and cabin accessories, as well as home-decorative pieces. Some of SkiLift's most popular home accents include rustic ski-themed picture frames ($25), vintage ski prints that date back to 1905 ($20) and antique skis and snowshoes ($175), which are perfect for hanging over the ski lodge mantle.

A product of one boy's dream, these souvenirs can add a bit of character to your ski chalet. As the holidays near, check out SkiLift's tree ornaments, greeting cards and gifts. Log on to www.skilift.net or call 800-535-5438 for a free catalogue.