By Amanda Eggert EBS Staff Writer

 BIG SKY – Benjamin Randall, the mastermind behind Randall Innovations, developed Ski-Key after a row with his ski boots in Deer Valley.

“It took a guy who was like 280 pounds putting his entire force into it to buckle my boots, and I was like, ‘Really? There has to be something that’s better and easier.’”

In fact there was, but Randall was underwhelmed by what he found: boot-buckling assisters made of hand-numbing metal and expensive products prone to breaking.

A self-described tinkerer, Randall set out to develop a more effective, less expensive product in 2012. He learned everything he could about plastics – and found them to be underrated. “A lot of plastics coming out now are just as strong as steel,” he says.

Randall moved in May 2015 to Big Sky from California, where he worked in aerospace manufacturing. “I came out here to ski a couple times and just completely fell in love with it,” Randall said. “And I was over the [Los Angeles] attitude, to be honest.”

Now he works with injection molders in Montana to manufacture Ski-Key, which weighs in at just under 1 ounce and doubles as a bottle opener and boot carrier.

Randall Innovations’ flagship product is steadily garnering interest – enough that an expansion to a larger space in Four Corners and a couple new hires are planned for the young company. The Yellowstone Club, East Slope Outdoors, Big Sky Resort and currently carry Ski-Key.

Randall is also developing a boot heater “like Hotronic without the electronics” and a high-performance adaptive ski. Big Sky local and Paralympic Games-hopeful Mark Urich is collaborating with Randall on the adaptive ski.