Royal Board Shop
A beastly-looking Sprinter 4x4, wrapped in pixelated camo with a striking yellow logo, muscles its way through Kananaskis Country in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. Two large snowmobiles loom on the trailer behind. With aggressive tires and a custom front bumper equipped with a winch, it looks like a rig not to be messed with. But behind the wheel is one of the friendliest guys in Alberta.
Ryan Robertson is the owner of Royal Board Shop, a downtown Calgary shop specializing in skateboards, longboards, and snowboards. And he’s been passionate about board sports from a young age, “Skateboarding was my first passion. When I first saw a skateboard, I was enthralled with it, and after that it just grew, then snowboarding came around.”
Enthused by all things adventure, Robertson set out to find a vehicle that could accommodate both his work and recreational needs. He was immediately fascinated with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4. He explains, “I wanted something to suit my lifestyle. When the opportunity came to get the 4x4 version, I was very quick to make sure that I was in line to get one of the first ones. Being in Canada, we get snow and ice, and rocks on the road, and being in action sports, where I’m towing things, I’m going to be off pavement that may require a 4x4, so that’s what drew me.”
Robertson’s enthusiastic personality is infectious, “This is my passion, and I had the support from family to be able to follow it, so it’s been amazing. There’s been some tough times, but when you’re passionate about what you do, it makes it easier to get up in the morning and do it every day.” And his days start early with getting his family out the door, before heading into the shop, “We commute into Calgary every day, that’s 100 km a day just getting into work. Never mind if I have deliveries, never mind if I have to pick people up at the airport.” With the amount of time he spends on the road, fuel efficiency is everything, and his Sprinter 4x4 does not disappoint. “In North America, we have two different types of diesel engines. We have one for torque, and then we have one for fuel efficiency. With the Sprinter 4x4, I got both,” says Robertson.
When he’s not tending to the shop, Robertson’s taking to the mountains in search of fresh powder to slice through on his snowboard. Which means, in order to reach the slopes, Robertson needs a vehicle that can get him there, with trailer in tow. “Being a back country snowboarder, I access it by snowmobile, which typically weighs about 500 lbs. Usually we’ll have two, then a trailer, so you have about 2,500 lbs. minimum. It was very important to me to have something that can tow that,” explains Robertson, “Going into the back country, being able to just put it into 4-wheel drive and take off up into the mountains, off the grid, logging roads, I’ve done it.”
Whether navigating the streets of downtown Calgary or tough mountain roads, a vehicle that promises traction on snow and on ice is essential to both work and play. “It’s having the security of this 4-wheel drive, especially in our environment, where I could be driving in 15C weather and drive to the mountains and it could be snowing at -10C,” explains Robertson. Wet, packed-down snow and ice make for slippery conditions, but he is no longer concerned, “With the 4-wheel drive, it’s a tank. We feel more secure.”
As animated as he gets when talking snowboarding, snowmobiling, or off-roading, it’s clear what matters most to Robertson is family. As the father of three children, safety was top of mind when choosing a vehicle, “In Alberta, we’re an oil and gas wrenching and farming community, so the bigger the vehicle, the safer you are. The Sprinter is a bigger vehicle, but with safety features: anti-slip, anti-lock, all the airbags. I have no fear. Even the U-link systems on the car seats. That’s a huge thing for me as a father of three.”
For someone like Robertson, a vehicle that can meet the demands of both work and personal life is essential, and he’s found it in his Sprinter 4x4, “It was about lifestyle for me, it truly was. When we picked the Sprinter, it just fit everything.” And the van has not gone unnoticed by those around him, “I’ve had some of my snowboard team riders’ parents buy a Sprinter 4x4, because they’ve seen ours. It’s the best, if you’ve got a lot of things going on. It’s just one of the best, most versatile vehicles on the market now.”
You know someone is truly living their passion when they’re incapable of seeing themselves do anything else. Robertson reflects, “My wife is my support system. And my kids understood why I was working 13 hours a day and wasn’t home on the weekends. And now we have that freedom. It’s allowed me to enjoy this. It’s allowed me to buy a Sprinter 4x4 van and get on to the next adventure. I’ll do this until I can’t do it anymore. It won’t be because I’m tired of it. My family loves it.”