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Outdoor: Did you hear?…

TNF endurance race to benefit Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Madsen to retire from REI, Thorlo alligns with Asolo/Lowe Alpine in Europe, Italy's Zamberlan forms U.S. subsidiary, plus much more....

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>> The North Face is leveraging the company’s presenting sponsorship of the 2004 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run (June 26-27, Auburn, Calif.) to support The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The North Face athlete team members and ultra-marathon runners Dean Karnazes, eight-time race competitor, and Tim Tweitmeyer, 22-time race competitor, are running again this year. For every minute each of them come in under 24 hours TNF has agreed to donate $5 to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Last year, Karnazes completed the run in 17:43 hours for fourth place, and Tim was right behind him at 17:55 hours for fifth place. If the pair come close to matching the finish times of last year, TNF will be donating over $4,000.

>> Dennis Madsen, CEO of REI, has announced his retirement, after 38 years of working for the company. His retirement is a little ways off — effective March 28, 2005, at the retail giant’s next annual meeting, when Sally Jewell, REI’s COO, will take over the reins. Under Madsen’s watch, REI has refocused, reversing what was the first annual loss for the co-op in 2000 to a profit of $7.4 million in 2001 and then building on that momentum to declare a $19.1 million profit on sales of $805.3 million last year. It is no longer a matter of IF the co-op will eclipse $1 billion in sales, it is a matter of when. The company won’t miss a beat when leadership transitions to Jewell. An REI director since 1996 and a former president of Washington Mutual’s Commercial Banking Group, Jewell has been the company’s COO since Madsen’s promotion to CEO in 2000.

>> The annual OIWC Summer Gathering will headline women’s leadership issues during the upcoming Outdoor Retailer Summer Market at Abravanel Hall (adjacent to the Convention Center) Saturday, August 14, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. An all-rock star panel includes women from both inside and outside the industry. The panel includes Kathy McGuire, vice president of operations at K2 Sports; Jean Dunham, master coach at the Strozzi Institute for Leadership; Colleen Clark, director of training and development at EMS; and Dianne Walker, director of LaunchPad at the University of Utah. Following the panel discussion, Summer Gathering attendees will break into small groups to discuss the issues and challenges both men and women deal with in the worlds of marketing, sales, public relations, non-profits, operations, and design and development. Those who want to stay for the entire evening and not battle the crowds in Salt Lake City restaurants can choose to stay for a buffet dinner at a cost of $10. Tickets for the dinner may be purchased at the OIWC trade show booth or at the door. Tickets are limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information about the OIWC Summer Gathering, contact Maile Buker at Black Diamond Equipment at 801-365-5568 or email

>> Sometimes, it simply pays to deliver a shipment yourself. The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Utah ordered a few Bell Canoe Works Yellowstone tandem canoes. Bell normally ships canoes on its private trailer to ensure arrival in pristine condition; however, these canoes were shipped with a freight hauling company for quicker delivery. The canoes left the Bell factory wrapped in extra layers of bubble pack, and affixed to the outer wrapping were bright orange “Top Load Only” stickers in hopes the warnings might entice shipping company personnel to handle the canoes with care. Apparently, the shipping company took the label to mean, “load as much weight as you can on top” since one of the canoes arrived as flat as a pancake — no kidding. Rather than ship the hull all the way back to Minnesota to see if it could be repaired, Bell’s Mark Beckenbach told NOLS to keep the canoe for safety training. NOLS accepted. NOLS reported the canoe will be used for instructor training to teach craft recovery and extraction skills with the idea that the training will ensure safer trips for NOLS participants.

>> ITALYAsolo/Lowe Alpine have established a strategic alliance with Thorlo to handle the distribution of Thorlo through the Italian-based company’s subsidiaries in Italy, the United Kingdom, Holland and Germany. In all other European markets, Thorlo distribution remains unchanged. In addition, Luca Zanatta, CEO of the Asolo/Lowe Alpine Group, David Udberg, managing director of Lowe Alpine UK Ltd., and the executive team of Thorlo have established a European management team that will oversee distribution strategy and marketing of the Thorlo brand throughout Europe.

>> Kellwood Company (NYSE: KWD) announced the pricing of $180 million convertible debentures offering on June 16 and intends to use the proceeds for acquisitions and pay off debt. The offering is expected to close on June 22. The debentures will bear regular interest at 3.50 percent per annum until June 15, 2011, after which no regular interest will be paid. Kellwood also has granted the initial purchasers an option to purchase up to an additional $20 million original principal amount of the debentures.

>> On June 25, approximately 700 SkillsUSA members, Timberland PRO Series representatives, City Year representatives and industry partners will collaborate in a day of community service, providing repairs and restorations to the Ozanam Home in Kansas City, Mo., and to Marillac in Overland Park, Mo. This is the third consecutive year for this event. The Ozanam Home is a non-profit residential treatment center for 70 children with behavioral and emotional problems, and learning disabilities. Ozanam provides a co-educational day program, group home living, independent living services and behavior consultant services for schools. On a yearly basis, Ozanam serves more than 3,000 children and families. Projects planned for the day at Ozanam include renovations of the: gym and weight room, baseball fields and soccer fields, barn and footbridge, basketball court, storage shed and swimming pool. The group will also repair the exterior of the Group Home and the dorms, build picnic tables and benches, and landscape the property. Marillac is a not-for-profit psychiatric treatment center for children and adolescents with severe emotional and behavioral disorders. At Marillac, volunteers will refurbish a fitness trail, perform landscaping, and build picnic tables and benches for a recreation area. The two facilities are seven miles apart, both 20 miles south of downtown Kansas City. Over the past 13 years, Timberland has facilitated more than 290,000 hours of community service.

>> Outlast scored big when Dockers brand selected the SmartFabric Technology for use in an upcoming line of Thermal Adapt Khakis, designed to balance temperature for all day comfort in 100-percent cotton pants. No word on whether Dockers will combine the technology with its new stain-resistant pants relying on nanotechnology, but we do have to say we hope not. The thought of tiny robots scurrying around in our pants is enough to raise our temperature beyond the comfort level, SmartFabric technology or not.

>> We wouldn’t have imagined the partnership for a minute, but the Navy SEALs have indeed commissioned a modified Figawi Side Zip shoe from, yes, Sperry Top-Sider. Apparently, the SEALs approached Sperry at last year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market after seeing the shoe and becoming star-struck with the shoe’s versatility on land and water and the non-marking soles — a major plus for those little operations when you really don’t want anyone to know you’ve been there.

>> Sport Chalet (Nasdaq: SPCH) has appointed Donald Howard to its board of directors and Compensation Committee. Howard is a partner and senior vice president of development with Marketplace Properties, a full-service shopping center development company that has completed projects throughout Southern California, Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada. Also, Frederick Schneider was named chairman of the Audit Committee. He has served on the company’s board of directors and audit committee since May 2000. Al McCready is now chairman of the newly-formed Governance and Nominating Committee and has served on the board and Audit Committee since May 2001. John Attwood continues as chairman of the Compensation Committee and has been on the board and various committees since 1993.

>> Joe Guglielmetti, recently appointed general manager of AKU-USA, told SNEWS® that the company now has a new headquarters, complete with warehousing and marketing teams. The company will be based in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where Guglielmetti will be responsible for overseeing sales, marketing and distribution of the brand’s product line and private label business. Peregrine Distribution Services (P.D.S.), a division of Williston, Vt.-based, Peregrine Outfitters, will provide the company with warehousing, information services and customer service functions. The True North Brand Group of Hingham, Mass., which has been working closely with Guglielmetti and the AKU International marketing team, with headquarters in the Montebelluna region in Italy, is laying out a marketing and public relations campaign. AKU will launch its spring 2005 line at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in August.

>> The third annual Avalanche Jam, hosted by Backcountry Access (BCA), will take place from 5 to 10 p.m. on Sept. 10 outside the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, Colo. Avalanche Jam is a fund-raiser for the Boulder-based Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). Hit and Run, a Colorado Bluegrass band, will headline this year. In addition to the music, the event will include dinner by Trappeda’s Gourmet Café, beer from New Belgium Brewery, an outdoor industry demo village and door prizes. Donors to the silent auction include, to date, BCA, Marmot, MSR, Lowe Alpine, Patagonia, Burton, Lowa and Black Diamond. Last year’s Avalanche Jam (the second in the now annual series) netted over $10,000 for the CAIC, which provides avalanche education and forecasting for Colorado backcountry users.

>> Yet another Italian brand is working to solidify its position in the U.S. market. Calzaturificio Zamberlan of Pievebelvicino, Italy, has been building outdoor footwear for over 70 years, and after realizing some success under John Connelly’s leadership for the last year (Connelly recently left Zamberland to join Five Ten), Zamberlan has upped the ante and decided to sell and service the product line from America with an American subsidiary. Zamberlan USA will handle U.S. sales, marketing, fulfillment and customer service, based out of Golden, Colo., and directed by John Cranford. Cranford brings over 20 years of outdoor footwear experience to the new venture having worked with Asolo, Vasque and most recently AKU. Zamberlan footwear is currently available at REI, Blue Ridge Mountain Sports and a select group of specialty shops throughout North America. Mike Burns has joined Cranford as eastern sales manager, and also serve as sales rep for the mid-Atlantic territory. Burns has spent well over 30 years in the outdoor industry, with positions as national sales manager at Patagonia, director of sales and marketing at The North Face, vice president of sales and marketing at SweetWater and Mountainsmith. Burns will base out of Charlottesville, Va., while Cranford oversees Western sales. In addition to Burns, Cranford tells us he is looking to complete the hiring of key reps and support personnel over the next few weeks, well in advance of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. Zamberlan can be found at booth 5346 during Summer Market. To learn more about Zamberlan footwear, contact Cranford by email at

>> REI has announced plans to open a store in Encinitas, Calif., in November 2004. The 22,500-square-foot store will be located about 20 miles north of the REI San Diego store, which opened in 1988. It will employ about 70 full- and part-time staff. The new construction store will be a leased, two-story structure with an 18-foot-tall freestanding climbing pinnacle, as well as other interactive features, including a camp store demo table, a water-filter testing station and a footwear test trail. It will also have a bicycle and ski repair shop. A gear rental department will encourage customers to try new outdoor activities. REI has stated there are approximately 50,000 active REI members in the San Diego area.

>> Dana Design has hired rep agency Mountain Mecca, LLC, based out of Hailey, Idaho. The rep group, led by Greg McRoberts will oversee sales in Washington, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska.

>> Base Camp Communications, a PR agency based in Jackson Hole, Wyo., has hired Shannon Brooks as super senior account manager (apparently, Base Camp has gotten caught up in the Super Size craze). Brooks began her career at the Boston-based agency Agnew, Carter, McCarthy managing public relations for Ocean Spray and The Boston Globe. After moving to Jackson Hole, Brooks joined the Jackson Hole News as a reporter and subsequently spent five years as the communications liaison at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Most recently, she worked at Stanwood and Partners Public Relations. Brooks will initially be responsible for working with Ryders Eyewear, and the Crescent H Ranch.

>> Deuter has added to John Herron’s plate. Herron, who oversees customer service and shipping, will take on the additional role of marketing and promotions coordination. He will work in tandem with What’s UP Public Relations and Marketing to develop a consistent brand image and marketing campaign. Keith Patterson, Deuter’s national sales manager, will be directing more energy toward Deuter’s expanding market and rep force.

>> Dominic Chenelia has been hired by Ski Tops as director of sales and marketing for the Chaos and Moon Shadow headwear brands. Chenelia joined the company June 1. Chaos and Moonshadow are sold to over 700 accounts nationwide, according to the company.

>> Shock Doctor footbeds has hired two new rep agencies — one in New England and one in California. The Pinnacle Outdoor Group (Bob Bruce and Hal Ellms) will rep the line in New England, including Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Bruce is headquartered in Falmouth, Maine, and Ellms in North Middlesex, Vt. Pinnacle also reps for Mountainsmith, Vasque, Atlas and Crocs. Pacific Crest Trading Organization based in Big Bear, Calif., and headed up by Dan Miller also reps Gregory, Sierra Designs and Vasque.