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Outdoor: Did you hear?…

HighGear 2003 sales up 256%, Wavesport hires Blakeney as field-marketing coordinator, Great Trango Holdings and Flashed Climbing enter alliance, Gerber acquires light-maker CMG Equipment, TAPS elects 2004 board, plus much more...

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>> On the heels of a huge growth spurt in 2002, Mike Hosey, president of HighGear, told SNEWS® that the company again exceeded projected growth in 2003 reporting sales up 256 percent from the previous calendar year. Hosey told us a significant portion of the sales growth can be attributed to pursuing distribution channels outside of the United States and to the introduction of competitively priced altimeter watches. In just a year and a half, HighGear has added 11 international distributors, with international business accounting for 18 percent of the company’s overall sales. These distributors are located in the following regions: United Kingdom/Ireland; Germany/Denmark/Netherlands; Australia; Italy/Switzerland; Taiwan; New Zealand; Japan; South Korea; Greece; Sweden; and Spain. Although selling similar products as in the United States, the company is marketing the brand internationally under the name TechTrail to emphasize a point of differentiation. Hosey told us that he anticipates his company’s international business will increase to 25 percent of the company’s overall sales in 2004 with additional expansion focused in Europe and Japan. Ed Note: SNEWS receives dozens of press releases proclaiming huge percentage leaps in sales by companies each month. While other publications and so-called trade news services choose to often print press releases virtually verbatim, SNEWS will only print sales increase news if a company is willing to share its financial data with us to verify the claims. We don’t and won’t share this proprietary information, however, our readers expect more from us in terms of accuracy and we will only deliver a story to our readers when we can verify its truth to the best of our ability.

>> Wavesport has hired long-time Wavesport team athlete Jimmy Blakeney as the company’s field-marketing coordinator. Blakeney’s job is to travel much of the year visiting dealers, river festivals, competitions and other events relevant to whitewater kayaking while coordinating the activity of team Wavesport. On top of field-marketing duties, Blakeney will play an active role in product development, promotions and marketing. Blakeney has been a professional kayaker and member of team Wavesport since 1997. He is the current U.S. National Freestyle Champion, Big Air Champion and one of the top extreme paddlers in the world. Along with his athletic accomplishments, he has a master’s degree in education and is a top level kayak instructor and coach.

>> Great Trango Holdings Inc. and Flashed Climbing have created a strategic alliance that brings the innovative bouldering mats, climbing chalk and accessories of Flashed from Canada to the United States. For its part, Flashed will distribute GTHI’s Stonewear Designs brand of climbing-inspired women’s active apparel throughout Canada. In addition to Stonewear Designs, other GTHI business units include Trango, Extraordinary Climbing Gear and E-Grips climbing holds. Flashed, based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, manufactures men’s climbing apparel in addition to its bouldering mats and climbing chalk.

>> Gerber Legendary Blades, a manufacturer of knives, multi-tools and outdoor recreational gear, has acquired CMG Equipment, LLC, a manufacturer and marketer of LED lights. The acquisition of CMG and the company’s current product line forms the foundation of a complete Gerber LED Lighting line, with additional products to be released later this year. CMG’s operations will be relocated from Chicago to Gerber’s headquarters in Portland, Ore.

>> The Trade Association of Paddlesports (TAPS) has elected three new members to the board of directors for 2004 : Scott McGregor of Rapid Media; Leon Somme of Body, Boat, Blade; and Mike Savario of Amphibious Horizons. Re-elected to another term were Joe Dryden of Eddyline Kayaks and Andy Knapp of Midwest Mountaineering.

>> SnowSports Industries America (SIA) has hired Terry Larson as the association’s Rocky Mountain sales and marketing manager. Larson will be responsible for servicing the sales and marketing needs of SIA members in the Rockies. Larson has been involved in the industry since 1994 where she started as a sales representative for Briko, Inc. Since then, she has served as a sales manager for The North Face where she was responsible for sales initiatives including product and concept shops development and training. Her most recent tenure included a four-year stint as a sales representative for Patagonia where she managed over 75 retail accounts. Dave Wray, who has managed all accounts in both the Western and Rocky Mountain territories, will now focus exclusively on accounts along the West Coast.

>> Three women have been chosen as finalists for the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC) 2004 Pioneering Woman Award. They are Norma Hansen of Outdoor Industry Association, Laura Miera of Marmot and Kim Walker of Outdoor Divas. The winner of the award will be announced at the OIWC Winter Gathering on Sunday, Feb. 1, from 6-9:30 p.m. in Abravanel Hall adjacent to the Salt Palace Convention Center in Utah. In addition to snacks and beverages, a buffet dinner is available at 8 p.m. for an extra $10. Dinner tickets may be purchased in advance at the OIWC Booth in Advocacy Alley or at the door. SNEWS View: Let’s see — OIWC awards and dinner…Super Bowl…OIWC awards…Super Bowl. We’ve already heard from a number of folks who tell us they might be late to the OIWC gig IF the game is close. OIWC might want to consider having a TV or two set up so folks still wanting to keep an eye on the game can attend both the awards reception and their football championship desires.

>> Boeri, the Milan, Italy-based, wintersport helmet manufacturer has responded to unfavorable exchange rates and increasing competition by lower-priced Asian-manufactured helmets by ending the company’s relationship with MPH, Boeri’s longtime U.S. distributor. Instead, Boeri will be going direct, cutting out the distributor, to become more competitive with its own U.S. subsidiary, Boeri USA. Jeff Ravreby, former vice president of sales for MPH, has been named the president of the new subsidiary. Ravreby has indicated there will be no changes to the existing sales force. For more information, contact Ravreby at 508-243-9375 or by email at

>> Hi-Tec’s brand has entered into a partnership with Event to use the waterproof/breathable fabric technology in the company’s new Backpacking Collection and Winter Collection for fall 2004 delivery. In addition, the company, as part of the re-launch of the backpacking line, has designed an exclusive outsole with Vibram for use in a select number of its boots.

>> Backpacker’s Pantry recently finalized a deal with Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC) to significantly increase the brand’s shelf presence in the Canadian-based outdoor stores. According to Backpacker’s Pantry, consumer interest for a higher standard in packable, lightweight, backcountry meals and the success of preseason sales spurred the increased presence in MEC stores. SNEWS View: It says it was consumer interest in a higher standard for backcountry meals. We say it had everything to do with the dark chocolate cheesecake. Yummy!

>> PowerBar Inc. will make a donation in the amount of $26,000 to the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), the charitable educational organization dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women through sports and fitness. The company’s contribution results from the success of the “Empowering Tomorrow” program conducted in the fall of 2003 by PowerBar Pria, the company’s line of nutritional snack bars for women. In an effort to create awareness and raise funds for national women’s health and fitness educational programs, PowerBar Pria and the Women’s Sports Foundation created the “Empowering Tomorrow” promotion, an online sweepstakes and donation match program. Through the cause-related marketing program, the company invited consumers to visit and offer personal pledges to help fund the Women’s Sports Foundation’s educational efforts. For its part, PowerBar guaranteed to match all consumer donations made to the foundation during the three-month program. Sixty-four participating consumers offered a combined total of $6,010 in personal donations. With PowerBar’s matching contribution, a total gift of $26,000 will be made to the WSF.

>> Mike Noonan has been promoted to the position of COO of Tecnica USA and its subsidiary, Volkl Sport America. Noonan replaces John Stahler who will now assume the position of president and CEO of the Tecnica Group in the United States, which includes Tecnica, Volkl, Marker, Dolomite, Nitro, Lowa, Rollerblade and Nordica. Noonan, who most recently served as vice president of sales and marketing for Volkl, joined Volkl in 1993 when the U.S. company was formed; a joint venture between Tecnica USA and Volkl International. Stahler co-founded Tecnica USA with Giancarlo Zanatta in 1976. He has been CEO of Tecnica since 1976 and of Volkl Sport America since its inception in 1993. With the recent addition of Rollerblade and Nordica, The Tecnica Group’s holdings in the United States now represent more than 25 percent of its annual worldwide revenue. Stahler, in his new role, will manage the groups’ activities in the United States.

>> Kayland has hired Dave Karl, Kristin Gula and Sky Ambitions LLC to represent the company’s footwear in the following states: New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

>> Gregory Mountain Products has hired Ron Frongillo of Mountain 2 Sea Marketing to represent the brand in Georgia, North and South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Frongillo is replacing Bill Chandler’s Nomad, Inc., a firm that reps for Mountain Hardwear and as a result, can no longer represent another pack company. Frongillo also represents Ex Officio, Horny Toad and Cloudveil.

>> Katadyn has parted ways with long-term rep Peter Burnes and hired Andy Molter (of Brandywine River Reps) as his replacement. Molter was mentored early in his career by Burnes. Katadyn has also restructured the company’s Mid-Atlantic territory. Bill Chandler is now covering all of West Virginia and Southern Virginia. Molter will now be covering Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

>> Audra McGuire has joined Makin’ Hey Communications as vice president of customer relations and key account directives. Audra has spent the last six years as key account manager for Monterey Mills, a Janesville-based textile manufacturer that serviced Levi, Wrangler, Woolrich, Lands’ End and others. McGuire can be reached at:

>> Rock River, manufacturer of outdoor footwear, has hired Bruce Chayet as executive vice president. In this newly created position, Chayet will work closely with President Tom Richardson to provide oversight to the national sales force as well as lead marketing and brand positioning efforts for the company. Chayet was most recently president for the Rieker Shoe Corp., a European-based comfort footwear manufacturer with U.S. corporate offices in Orlando, Fla.

>> John Rounds is leaving a rep agency he has owned and managed in the Midwest to accept a position as Eastern Sales Manager for Camelbak. Rounds will be focusing on helping Camelbak grow the recreational sales division, with particular focus on the running and hunting markets according to a Camelbak spokesperson. Rounds’ agency, the Great Lake Sports Group, covering the region of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky will now be directed by Scott Parr. Currently, the agency reps Camelbak, Hind, Timex, Brunton, and Princeton Tec. In related Camelbak news, Lea Morrison has been promoted to Global Marketing Manager for Camelbak, with her entire focus now on the sports and recreation side of the business for Camelbak domestically and internationally. Morrison had also been overseeing military and industrial marketing domestically. A replacement for her in the military and industrial divisions will be announced once a candidate is identified.

>> On the Horizon Communications has moved to new digs. Send mail to: On the Horizon Communications, 330 James Way, Ste. 140, Pismo Beach, CA 93449. Phone is 805-773-1000 and fax is 805-773-1900.