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On July 25, Garmont employees at the company’s Burlington, Vt. headquarters met their new president, David Fee, and learned the company would soon be moving to Portland, Ore. Fee, who spoke exclusively to SNEWS® told us it was too early to know how many of the 12 current employees would be making the move.
“For those who will be impacted by this decision to move our headquarters across the country, we have a strong plan in place to make the transition as smooth and respectful as possible,” Fee (pictured right) told us. “It is so very important to us that we honor those who have been instrumental in growing the brand by treating them well.”
Fee, who was most recently senior director of sales for Portland-based Yakima, becomes the third president of 15-year-old Garmont North America, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Italian-based Garmont. Fee succeeds Gord Bailey who resigned as president April 2008 – click here to read that story.
The process of transitioning to Portland was underway as of July 26, yet no firm date for completing the move has been established Fee told us, though he does expect the move to be final by end of 2011 at the latest. First, the company must decide on a physical location.
“We are currently working with the city of Portland to find a suitable commercial space in the downtown area that is also close to public transportation,” Fee said.
While Fee lives in Portland, he told SNEWS that he was not a part of the decision to relocate. “I know that the Garmont team identified and looked at suitable markets for some time now and reached the decision to move to Portland prior to hiring me,” Fee said. “While I don’t know all of the finalists, there is no question that the Portland Development Commission made the process very easy for Garmont from providing access to logistics providers to commercial real estate brokers to assistance with moving and even lease hold improvements.”
Looking forward, Fee told us that “There is already a very talented team in place at Garmont and some members of that team will be moving forward with us in Portland. My intent is to provide strategic direction to that team to help them grow the brand in a healthy and sustainable way.”
When we asked about his background, Fee noted that he does not consider himself an expert at anything, but rather experienced at a wide range of skills that a strong company leader needs – sales and marketing, product and supply chain management, and strategic planning. Fee said he will draw on his past experience working for five brands that, uniquely, people commonly tattoo the names of on their body – Nike, Ford, Mustang, Harley Davidson, and most recently, Yakima.
“Fortunately Garmont is a world-reknown brand, though I am not sure folks will be tattooing the name of this brand on their bodies anytime soon – though who knows,” Fee told us with a laugh. “I have full confidence in the tattoo if they do though.”
As for what retailers and the industry should expect with the change in location and leadership, Fee said, “Retailers should expect that there will be no disruptions or interruptions in the level of service or quality of product or timeliness of deliveries through this transition. And retailers can expect to see as good if not better levels of service and quality once the move is complete.”
Also undecided, Fee told us, is how the company will handle its warehousing and distribution of product – for Garmont hike and ski, Bridgedale, and Life-Link brands.
“We currently own our warehouse and manage our own distribution and have not, as yet, finalized a strategy moving forward,” said Fee. “We may continue with the current model, or we may opt to utilize a third party solution – but either way, the ultimate goal will be to ensure we are able to ship products on time and completely with a high level of quality specialty retailers deserve.”