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Outdoor real estate: American Rec, OtterBox, Big City Mountaineers and more expand locations

Find out who's opening new stores, expanding and making location moves in the outdoor industry. This month it’s all about growth.

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There are many ways to gauge the business outlook of a retailer, manufacturer or organization in the industry. One of the surest signs of health is real estate.

If a company is increasing space or moving to a larger location, it’s almost always because they are bursting at the seams with more employees, more products or both. When the broom closet no longer can pass as an extra cubicle, it’s time to grow. As the cliché goes, it’s “a good problem to have.”

So take note, business seems to be going well for these companies:

>> American Rec, parent to Sierra Designs, Kelty, Slumberjack, Isis and others is expanding its existing space in Boulder, Colo. by about 5,000 square feet to accommodate a new office layout and additional employees at its headquarters.

The company worked with its landlord at 6235 Lookout Road to combine four previously separate units it leased at the location into one 32,000-square-foot space for a new seven-year lease.

“The new building remodel will meet the new demands of the consolidated divisions along with anticipated growth over the next several years,” said Brett Jordan, CEO of American Rec’s equipment group.

Part of the expansion accommodates the company’s Isis brand, which moved from Burlington, Vt. a year ago. American Rec also is hiring locally to fill positions.

>> OtterBox keeps adding to its campus in Fort Collins, Colo., recently purchasing a new building there, and the business has plans to renovate several others.

The company, which makes protective cases for mobile technology, bought a seven-story building at 315 Oak St., which currently houses 60 of its employees and eventually could house up to 300.

OtterBox also is working with the city to redevelop a 53,000-square-foot building at 331 S. Meldrum St., which is across its current 52,000-square-foot headquarters just completed last year (slide included) at 209 S. Meldrum St.

“We have around 600 employees in Fort Collins, including temporary staff and contractors,” OtterBox founder and CEO Curt Richardson said. “We’ve run out of space to accommodate the demands of our current growth and have made some strategic acquisitions to prepare us for the future expansion of the company.”

The company is completing renovations in several other buildings and by the end of the year will occupy seven locations across Fort Collins, including its distribution center, with plans to fill 150-200 new positions.

All this from a company that got its start in a Fort Collins garage in 1998.

>> Outdoor nonprofits are growing as well. Big City Mountaineers, which helps urban youth develop life skills through wilderness mentoring expeditions, moved from Denver to nearby Golden, Colo. with plans to double the number of youth it reaches.

BCM’s new home within the American Mountaineering Center shares space with fellow outdoor nonprofits Colorado Mountain Club and American Alpine Club. Officials said the groups will work together to collaborate on programs (including single-day events delivered on an in-house climbing wall) share resources and increase their presence within the outdoor community.

“Bring on the kids!” said BCM Executive Director Lisa Mattis.

>> Not all the growth is from our home state of Colorado. In Greensburg, Pa., American Adventure Sports relocated its retail location to 125 S. Pennsylvania Ave. on May 11.

AAS isn’t your typical outdoor retailer. Doug Crytzer started his business in 1997 promoting adventure sports through clinics, academies, corporate events and races. The retail side came about in 2009 to further support the cause, carrying mountain bikes, road bikes, skis, snowboards, hiking, camping and survival gear.

In 2010, Crytzer launched an in-house adventure sports video production company (Big Log Media), which is now headquartered at the new retail location as well.

>> Eastern Mountain Sports continues to expand its footprint in the eastern United States. The outdoor retail chain opened its second location in Portland, Maine on May 11.

The new 20,442-square-foot EMS store at 301 Maine Mall Road will feature a new section for kids, an expanded kayak and stand up paddleboard department, as well as a full-service bike shop in addition to gear for backpacking, camping, climbing and hiking. A portion of the opening weekend’s sales were donated to Portland Trails, a nonprofit land trust that preserves green space for public access.

–David Clucas

Are you opening, closing or moving your outdoor store or office? Email atnews@snewsnet.comwith the details.