>> The eighth annual Outdoor Industry Association Rendezvous held in Vail, Colo., from Oct. 2-5, brought together 202 industry leaders, a 10 percent increase over last year’s attendance. The event was strongly supported by a long list of sponsors including: REI, Merrell, Galyan’s, Outdoor Retailer, Nike ACG, Timberland, Hooked on the Outdoors, GearTrends/SNEWS (someone had to buy the beer and wine), Outdoor Industry Women’s Council (OIWC), Chris Goddard Public Relations, Tres Gatos, Deuter USA, Cocoon and W.L. Gore. Keynote speaker Michael Schrage, co-director of the MIT Media Lab, kicked off the two days of seminars and networking with an awakening face-slap with his summation that, “Innovation isn’t what innovators do, it’s what their customers actually adopt.” Other seminars followed that challenged thought as much if not more, leading to numerous “aha” moments and furious notebook scribbling amongst attendees seeking ideas to put into practice when back in the company saddle. Matt Hyde of REI summed up the feelings of all attendees, with an invite to next year’s future ones, when he said he almost didn’t come this year because of all the urgent things he had to take care of. “Then I realized that urgent could wait while I attended to the most important.” SNEWS View: For those who put urgent behind them to focus on the important, the Rendezvous delivered in spades. For those of you mired in the urgent, you missed something important and we missed your most important contribution to the future of our industry. Because this event is so important, SNEWS will publish a complete wrap of the Rendezvous in next week’s SNEWS full of our detailed takeaways and observations. No other event does more or has the potential to do more for this industry than the OIA Rendezvous. We’ll see you next year, right?
>> Chalk up another company escape from California’s business-unfriendly environment. Mickie’s Place, formerly of Southern California, has signed a lease on a 30,000-square-foot building located in Celina, Clay County, Tenn. “Our business is growing and we found that we needed a larger facility than we have here in Southern California,” said Mickie Repecka, owner of Mickie’s Place. “Moving to Tennessee, a state with a reputation for welcoming new businesses, will enable us to expand and grow in a business-friendly environment.” Only two years old, Repecka tells SNEWS the retailer has experienced double-digit growth each year, despite intense competition. The new store will expand offerings to cater to the local population’s interest. Mickie’s Place plans to add to the store’s normal stock of backpacking and camping gear to include hunting, fishing and boating equipment. A casting pool is planned, and the store is negotiating with the local Corps of Engineers for a boat ramp to launch canoes and kayaks directly into the river.
>> It’s been a good month and a half for outdoor product mentions in key media — especially for CGPR clients (it does pay to have good PR folks). The run began with Merrell in the Pulse Section of the NY Times on Aug. 3 followed by an Aug. 11 focus on light and fast gear in Newsweek with mentions of Merrell, Royal Robbins, Eagle Creek, Gore-Tex and Moonstone. In the Sept. 26 issue of The New York Times, the coverage continued with a hiking article featuring Moonstone and Inova, and then once again in Newsweek, an article on Adventure Tech Gear last week mentioned Dagger and Inova.
>> Have a new company and what you think is an innovative product? It may be time to enter the ispo BrandNew awards, a competition for start-up companies run by the sporting goods show ispo in Munich, Germany. Winners in seven categories receive all-expense-paid booths at the winter 2004 show in February and other benefits such as promotional help. Entries are due by Nov. 8. For applications and more information, go to www.ispo-brandnew.com/. There are categories that include hardware (including riding, skiing or exercising), fashion, accessories and action sports.
>> The U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation — with athletes that garnered six Olympic medals in 2002 — has named MoSox as the official hosiery supplier for the team. Chris Smith, president of MoSox, told SNEWS that the company will work closely with fiber partners, Wellman, Sterling and Invista, to develop a sock that will assist the team’s athletes to perform at an even higher level.
>> Winter Trails, a free program that introduces the public to snowshoeing, will expand this year to potentially 100 Nordic Centers that are members of the Cross Country Ski Areas Association (CCSAA). SIA and the American Hiking Society have organized Winter Trails for eight consecutive years. The Jan. 17, 2004, event gives individuals the opportunity to experience the benefits of snowshoeing at a convenient venue. Winter Trails is the newest addition to the Winter Feels Good (WFG) program, a public awareness campaign developed by SIA that encourages health and fitness through winter sports participation. WFG is a nationwide public awareness campaign that promotes the health, fitness and social aspects as benefits of snow sports participation. This initiative, which is part of SIA’s national consumer program Project Kids, includes: an educational component through its website, www.winterfeelsgood.com, information and statistics, a community outreach program and a media relations component.
>> Panoptx has teamed up with the highly successful Warren Miller Film Tour for the 2003/2004 season. The film tour begins in October and travels from northern Maine to Southern California. Last year more than 300,000 winter sports enthusiasts in over 165 cities attended. Panoptx will be part of the grand prize ski vacation package that will be awarded to one lucky attendee of the 54th annual feature film, “Warren Miller’s Journey.” Additionally, attendees will receive a copy of Snoworld Magazine, in which Panoptx will have a full-page ad. The extensive promotion is part of Panoptx’s strategy to position itself as a leading brand in the snow sports and eyewear categories, according to the company.
>> Building on the growth and interest in telemark skiing and snowmobiling last year, Ortovox is reporting that the U.S. sales for the brand are up 11 percent over last year (SNEWS can’t confirm this number as Ortovox is a private company and won’t share numbers). Ortovox is reporting strong sales in shovels and probes, as well as strength in transceiver sales.
>> Patagonia has been listed for the 14th year in Working Mother magazine’s annual compilation of the “100 Best Companies for Working Mothers.” The complete list appears in the October issue of Working Mother and at www.workingmother.com. With the release of its 18th annual list, the magazine points out payroll may be down but work/life benefits are up at many of America’s top companies. Working Mother points out that even these tough economic times haven’t swayed the commitment of its forward-thinking “100 Best” companies. In fact, the magazine finds that many listed companies have increased benefits — ranging from child-care programs to massages to take-home dinners straight from the company cafeteria — in order to cut stress and keep employees healthy.
>> Climb High, the U.S. distributor of Mammut, awarded the first annual Mammut Outdoor Appreciation Scholarship to Liz Nehme, a junior at Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Va. Nehme will receive full tuition, round-trip airfare and full outfitting of alpine clothing awarded by Mammut for the Outward Bound classic course of her choice. Nehme was chosen for her dedication to the outdoors, including work as a facilitator in Lynchburg’s New Horizons outdoor program, and her future goal to pursue a graduate degree and career in outdoor experiential education.
>> The Naxo nx01, a high-performance AT binding from Switzerland, has begun shipping to the North American market through Backcountry Access, Naxo’s exclusive distributor for North America. For a Flash demonstration of the Virtual Rotation System, click here.
>> Chris Gibbs, the former manager and buyer for Duluth Pack Store in Duluth, Minn., has joined Bell Canoe as a product manager overseeing all composite and Royalex manufacturing operations for Bell as the company transitions to its new facility.
>> Fera International, celebrating the company’s 25th year of offering skiwear, has hired a bevy of new sales reps as part of a renewed focus on the company’s three outdoor apparel brands: Fera skiwear, Meister Sport Knits, and Avus technical outdoor gear. The new hires include: Jerry Larsen, formerly with Roffe/Pacific Trail, repping Fera, Meister and Avus in the Rockies territory; Cathi Whalen repping Fera, Meister and Avus in the Northwest; Mark Waddle repping Avus in the Midwest; Marris Kramer repping Fera and Meister in the Northeast; and Pete McEachron repping Avus in the Northeast.
>> As part of Deuter USA’s recently announced consolidation of the company’s sales efforts and expansion of its customer service function, Keith Paterson the current national director of outdoor sales will now handle both bike and outdoor. Deuter will continue to maintain separate rep forces for the bike and outdoor markets. The new customer service manager, John Herron, joins Deuter with extensive customer service experience starting with retail sales at Galyan’s and as key account sales coordinator and corporate sales rep at Lowe Alpine Systems. Deuter USA also recently moved to a new 3,000-square-foot office/warehouse space at 1341 Sherman Dr., Unit D, Longmont, CO 80501.
>> Mike Glavin, former head of Marketing Services for Cascade Designs, was fired on Sept. 2. Jeff Bowman of Cascade Designs told SNEWS it was “the hardest firing I’ve ever had to do.” Glavin told SNEWS he is taking some time to explore his options, which includes writing a book. SNEWS View: Change for the right reasons is good for all. Granted, sometimes change can slap you upside the head, but Glavin is a huge talent and will land on his feet quickly. We surmise that Cascade and Glavin simply stopped seeing eye-to-eye about a number of things, including company direction, and when that happens, change is inevitable.