For the week of March 8-14
>> One new technical apparel company, Westcomb, from Vancouver, British Columbia, showed up at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, holing up in a small room in the Marriot and enticing buyers and media to come take a look-see (we didn’t mention the company in our Winter Market trend wraps since it wasn’t officially exhibiting). It was worth the trek. Stemming from the stomping grounds of Arc’Teryx, Westcomb has a youngier, trendier, slightly more fashionable flair while maintaining total technical development with Polartec, Schoeller, eVent, YKK zippers and the like. Founder and Director Alan Yiu said the Canadian company (www.westcomb.com) is debuting with 56 pieces, pretty evenly split between men’s and women’s, with women’s designed differently, as needed. The show, as a late tag-in across the street, went OK, but Yiu said a month later that its road show has brought buy-in from a few key retailers in Canada, as well as Japan and South Korea, with a few in the United States looking to take the plunge too. Yiu, still making final design tweaks in early March, called the line “high-end but competitively priced,” with a focus on fit that flatters. We call it technical but clean and smart. The Syncro Pant, for example, has a relaxed fit so you can hike, drive or have a glass of wine in them comfortably. The pant’s Schoeller Dynamic fabric has NanoSphere self-cleaning finish, wind resistance and abrasion resistance. The design (suggested retail USD $200) has zippers that tuck away into slots for a clean look, articulated knees, laminated thigh pockets and a laminated belt that isn’t bar-tacked. The styling and fabrics are progressive, with marketing and already a professional website too, so this may be a line to watch.
>> A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation sheds a very revealing light on why our nation’s youth are, as a whole, unfit and basically sedentary — too much access to computers, TV and other electronic media. The study reports that among 8- to 18-year-olds, the TV is on much of the day in the house, whether or not it is being watched. On average, nearly four hours each day is spent by this age group watching TV or videos, and an additional two hours per day is spent listening to music on an MP3 or CD player. While three out of four in the age group report they read for pleasure each day, the time amounts to an average of only 43 minutes. On the bright side, the average time spent each day playing sports or being physically active each day is reported at one hour and 25 minutes. What gets somewhat frightening is the look the study took inside the bedrooms of 8- to 18-year-olds (and no, we’re not talking rooms that require a backhoe just to clean up because that would be normal). In this age group, 20 percent have internet access, 20 percent have premium TV channels (and we don’t think this is so they can watch OLN), 31 percent have a computer, 37 percent have a TV with cable/or satellite hook-up, 49 percent have a video game console, 68 percent have a TV, 54 percent have a VCR/DVD player, 84 percent have a radio and 86 percent have a CD or tape player. Heck, with that kind of entertainment access as a kid, those of us at SNEWS® agree, we’d have been begging to be grounded. Not surprisingly, those kids that did not have a TV in their room were more likely to read.
>> The Professional Paddlesports Association (PPA) and the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) held a meeting of manufacturers on March 2 in Tampa, Fla., to continue work on voluntary standards for canoe and kayak safety. The meeting focused primarily on the issues of weight capacities and flotation. Attendees developed a formula for determining maximum weights and supplemental flotation and are asking manufacturers to validate the formula by testing their existing models. PPA will be mailing manufacturers a testing protocol and reporting form to collect the data necessary to validate the formulas. Attendees included Joe Pulliam (WaterMark), Bob McDonough (Confluence Watersports), Nando Zucchi (Johnson Outdoors), Mike Cichanowski (We-no-nah/Current Designs), Bob Hunnewell (BIC Sport), Jared Carr (Osage), Po Chang (US Coast Guard), Tom Marhevko (NMMA), John Adey, Eric Johnson, Jim Goetz, and Jim Leach (ABYC), and PPA Executive Director Matt Menashes. For more information, contact Menashes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
>> Black Diamond Equipment is stepping up to the plate again and sponsoring the fourth annual HERA (Health Empowerment, Research and Advocacy) Ovarian Cancer Climb for Life and hosting the Salt Lake City, Utah, event at its headquarters, Sept. 15-18. Black Diamond will also support the REI Road Tour events by sending renowned climbers to conduct climbing clinics, provide climbing tips and raffle off Black Diamond climbing gear. The tour will take place in 16 stores and 39 rock gyms across the country starting in April, and include special appearances by climbers Kim Csizmazia, Steph Davis, Tiffany Campbell, Kitty Calhoun and Heidi Wirtz. Registration begins March 13 at participating REI stores and at www.rei.com/climbforlife. The mission of the HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation is to empower women to take control of their health, scientists to seek new directions in ovarian cancer research and communities to provide support. Last year’s HERA events raised over $120,000. For more information about the foundation, go to http://ovariancancer.jhmi.edu/climb/.
>> Cross Country Skier magazine is turning the Big 25 next year and plans to celebrate during the 2005/2006 season with special features in each issue. Launched by Barbara Brewster in 1980, the magazine has changed hands over its quarter century — former owners include Rodale Press and Chase Publications — and has been helmed by Ron Bergin since 2000. Under Bergin’s leadership, the magazine’s readership has increased, as well as advertising. To commemorate the anniversary, Bergin and executive editor Lou Dzierzak plan special editorial features in each issue of the 2005-2006 season, including a look at the influential people of the past 25 years of Nordic skiing in October and a review of the products that have helped shape the sport will be presented in November. They’re soliciting nominations for the influential people, products and events that have shaped the sport of Nordic skiing. If you have someone to nominate, just send a brief description of why you feel the nomination should be considered (with nominee contact information if available) to Dzierzak at email@example.com or call 612-618-2780 by May 1. Also, the magazine is launching an eight-page special section covering competitive Nordic racing that will be in each issue of Cross Country Skier magazine. Headed by Nat Brown, the CCS Racer special section will include features on national caliber skiers, event profiles, ski team news, race calendars, wax tips and the latest training techniques and equipment. Brown has years of experience at the national, World Cup and Olympic level as a wax technician, and is still active as a coach, wax consultant and author.
>> For the first time, Duofold is partnering with the Yellowstone Park Foundation to outfit Yellowstone National Park employees this winter. Law enforcement, research staff and other outdoor employees will receive a variety of base layer options tailored to their unique needs, including Varitherm for rigorous work and Insulayer for less physical assignments.
>> TechnologyReview.com ‘s recent online article “E-Commerce Gets Smarter” looks at how smart e-commerce allows retailers to mesh in-store, catalog and online sales to offer their customers a full range of shopping options. REI is offered up as an example in the article of how it uses one source of data collection to better understand customers’ buying habits. The numbers are impressive, too. TechnologyReview.com said that Jupiter Research reported online retail spending was up 26 percent to $66.5 billion — 4 percent of total retail spending compared with nothing about 10 years ago. By 2009, Jupiter predicts, online spending will reach 6 percent of total retail sales. But that’s not all. Last year, another $355 billion in retail sales took place in physical stores after consumers had done their homework online. For every $1 consumers spend online, they spend $6 offline as a result of research conducted on the Internet. To check out the article, click here.
>> On Jan. 29, Martin Gulsrud of Norway was buried under 2.5 meters of snow by an avalanche in Tignes, France, and was rescued alive and uninjured 20 minutes later. In addition to fast thinking by his two skiing partners and quick-acting ski patrol, 24-year-old Gulsrud was wearing a Black Diamond Avalung breathing apparatus — considered a contributing factor to his survival. Gulsrud and his friends were reportedly following avalanche terrain protocol, skiing one at a time and carrying shovels, probes and avalanche beacons. The avalanche risk had been reduced from four to three that day and Gulsrud said as he started the first off-piste run, the avalanche was triggered, carrying him 200 to 250 meters. He said in a statement: “I took the (Avalung) mouthpiece in my mouth as soon as I noticed that I had lost all my speed relative to the avalanche, and at this moment I was still standing up. It was a huge help to breathe through the Avalung while being dragged down the slope. The Avalung was easy to breathe through, and I could focus on what to do when I was buried, instead of struggle with snow in my mouth and lungs.” A gift from his girlfriend two years earlier, Gulsrud added about his Avalung experience: “The most frightening moment of the whole accident was when I was fighting for the space around my chest. Without the Avalung, I think this would have been impossible. So even though my friends and I were lucky in this experience, I do believe that none of us could have survived this avalanche without an Avalung.” Black Diamond has Gulsrud’s full interview and images on its website at http://avalung.com/flash/avalung.html.
>> CGPR has inked a deal to be a three-year supporting sponsor of the Outdoor Industry Association’s annual Rendezvous event. Chris Goddard, CGPR’s president, said the Rendezvous is “one the most well-organized and constructive gathering of the troops within our industry.” CGPR has been involved with the event for many years, going as far back as Sundance, Utah, to last year’s Beaver Creek, Colo., gathering.
>> Malden Mills has been working on a three-year plan for the company for the last six months and is putting people in place to execute it. Burkhardt Franke has joined the company as managing director, Asia and will work out of the Hong Kong office starting March 15. Burkhardt has over 30 years of senior international operating experience and has worked for Gilbert Co., Lida, Missbrenner and Lands’ End. Carol Valianti has been promoted to vice president of global communications, and is responsible for all global advertising, communications and brand-building programs. Chris Sentementes has been promoted to vice president of global sourcing. He will continue to oversee the international supply chain and integration with new development partners. Allison Estabrook has been named global director of design. After 13 years as a Malden consultant, she has accepted the full-time position and will oversee design direction for North America, Europe and Asia. Heidi Steckert has been promoted to product manager for the Workwear and Uniform Markets from her role as assistant product manager for the outdoor market.
>> Outlast Technologies is appointing Raj Pillai as managing director of the soon-to-be-formed “Outlast Technologies, India” subsidiary. Pillai has already been overseeing the entry of Outlast into the Indian sub-continent markets for the past six months. Outlast CEO George Cattermole said, “India is one of the fastest growing textile centers in the world from production to market consumption, and our technologies provide unique benefits and value for many of the end uses in the Indian apparel market.” Pillai has been with Outlast for the past two years, as its technical director. Prior to joining Outlast, Pillai was with BHA Technologies/Event Fabrics, Rodel/Rohm & Haas and W.L. Gore and Associates.
>> Ruff Wear has hired Stacie Pirtle as the new director of operations. After relocating to a new warehouse in 2004 and significantly increasing inventory space, the company is looking to Pirtle to manage the overstocked inventory, guarantee on-time delivery, service and satisfaction, and help to facilitate the growth of Ruff Wear.
>> Michigan-based Active Pursuits sales agency has joined Mountainsmith as the new sales and marketing organization for the Great Lakes Region, including Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. Active Pursuits is headed up by Mark Waddle, with the assistance of Elizabeth Dell who manages the office and handles additional dealer service. Waddle also represents Body Glove Wetsuits, Exped, PolarMax Technical Base Layers and YakTrax. Active Pursuits is headquartered in Traverse City, Mich., and can be reached at 231-935-0097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
>> Mountain Khakis has appointed its North American sales team, made up of “14 enthusiastic industry leaders from coast to coast.” In New England, John Campbell and Tim Augustinowicz of Luddite Technology will cover the territory from Maine to Connecticut. They also work with Cloudveil, Lowa and Sterling Ropes. In the Mid-Atlantic region, Ben Tindall and Bill King of Chinook Cooperative will handle New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Washington, D.C. They also represent Lowa, Boeri and Life-Link. Jeff Weathersbee, Jim Kelly and Cassie Troyer of Summit Group will represent Mountain Khakis in the Southeast, covering Virginia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. Between them, they represent several outdoor companies, including SmartWool, Lowa and Native Eyewear. Kevin Cox and Jeff Heinrichs of Alpine Exposure will handle the central United States. They also work with Cloudveil, Leki, Osprey and Pacific Outdoor Equipment. Kirk Haskell and Scott Sutton will handle the Rocky Mountain states, including Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. They also represent MadRock, Honey Stinger, Nikwax and Cloudveil. Tony Brent will cover the Northwest, including Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho. His clients include Mammut, Grivel and Julbo. Dry Creek Enterprises’ Bryan Giesser and Henry Tusharare covering Northern California and Nevada. They also work with Keen and Saucony.
>> Deuter has appointed Rich Murray as its bike sales manager for the U.S. market, handling all aspects of its domestic bike accessory, packs and hydration sales. Most recently, Murray worked for IKON Office Solutions, a Fortune 500 company focused on document management software and hardware, as an account executive. He’s also worked for Lowe Alpine and Lombardi Sports in San Francisco.
>> REI is planning to open a store in Raleigh, N.C., in November 2005 at North Hills, at Six Forks Road near Interstate 440. The 25,500-square-foot, two-story store located at North Hills in North Raleigh will employ about 55 full- and part-time staff. It has two other stores in the state — one in Cary and another in Durham.