A business hive in a mountain bike haven with a watering hole and holistic health care: It sounds like an ideal recipe for productivity and fun.
Pending zoning approval, Yeti Cycles will build a brand new headquarters and factory in Golden, Colorado, with adjacent acres that will be leased or sold to other businesses, used for the preservation of open space, and potentially developed into a bike park.
A similar business hub is being developed by Ruffwear in Bend, Oregon, with a focus on attracting outdoor industry companies, but with an open-door policy for members from any industry. On a smaller scale, Smartwool and Go Far recently partnered to open a retail space in Boulder.
As the outdoor industry continues to grow—and property becomes increasingly cost-prohibitive—we may continue to see pockets of like-minded businesses invest in developments that offer shared, collective benefits for businesses and entrepreneurs.
Trails and open space: A dream blueprint
It was a tremendous stroke of luck. After five years, Bill Mueller, the CFO of Yeti Cycles, was commuting home from Golden to Boulder along State Highway 93 when he saw someone stab a For Sale sign into the ground. He pulled over. Within 24 hours, Yeti was under contract to buy.
Yeti’s new hub will be stationed on that grasslands mesa in the middle of two popular trailheads—White Ranch Park and North Table Mountain Park—which are among the area’s crowned jewels for mountain biking, as well as trail running and hiking. White Ranch is more than 5,000 acres and features 20 miles of multi-use trails. North Table Mountain offers 17 miles of trails spread across 2,000 acres. The two areas’ interior-facing parking lots are a two-mile drive apart and intersected by State Highway 93.
The company’s space will include a factory, showroom, retail shop—which will sell apparel and accessories, but not bikes—and a meeting space to host community events like the Golden Giddy-up bike race. Pending approval, the manufacturer may also build a bike park, of which they would be amicable to including a public trail that connects the two neighboring trail networks.
Jefferson County Open Space sits to the west and south. Yeti wants to maintain the gorgeous western view of the foothills and leave 15 acres of the riparian zone totally undeveloped and therefore protected. The Yeti Cycles buildings will occupy nine acres and the remaining 16 acres will be used for other local businesses.
“We are outdoor industry people who want to make sure that there’s open space our office and not just a concrete office park,” Mueller said. “We want natural, open space. The surrounding geographic features also acts as a natural building perimeter with rock and steep critical gain.”
The proximity to trails will also help to grow Yeti’s demo program, which launched two years ago. Anyone can register online for a morning or afternoon session for $25, which is donated in-full to the trail fund of Jefferson County. Demo riders get a tour of the factory, a personalized bike fitting, and then they can shred straight from the nearby trailhead.
Yeti’s vision for the campus
Aside from being as close to the trailhead as possible, it’s vital to Yeti for this new business hub to be a community gathering place. Currently, Yeti is located on Corporate Circle in Golden, which is an “ambiguous office park” that’s not as close to trailheads, lacks nearby breweries, and is too small to fit the company’s growth, explained Mueller.
“We’ve been looking for a property for five years,” Mueller said. “We’ve had phenomenal growth in revenues and headcount. We need a facility that meets our needs, and a community environment that supports our values and [mutual] leadership.”
No parameters dictate the types of business that can join the campus, but Yeti envisions a collection of complementary services that symbiotically cater to the same clientele who visit Yeti’s showroom. After customers hit the trail on a bike from the demo fleet they can meet friends at the brewery or visit the physical therapist. (Business names were not available at the time of print, but both a brewery and physical therapist have reached out to Yeti regarding the concept.) The companies that fill the space are more or less determined on a first-come, first-served basis. The storefront mix is indeterminable but will include local companies, from Golden or the surrounding communities.
“We want to avoid an ambiguous office park and create marketing opportunities with like-minded businesses such as distilleries or other manufacturers—any businesses that fit within the community ecosystem,” said Mueller.
Yeti also wants to partner with companies (specific names cannot be released at this time) that will join the campus to lead an incubator or co-working space—both of which are growing within the outdoor industry and help to improve outdoor-centric economies—so that Yeti can pay it forward. They want to invest their time into helping startups.
“We want the campus to have an element where successful businesses can give back and mentor other people,” Mueller said. “We all started as small entrepreneurial companies and want to be supportive of those who are creating their own business.”
For the project, Yeti Cycles teamed up with Neenan Company, a Colorado-based commercial design and development firm with an impressive track record.
“Our values align with Neenan,” Mueller said. “They built New Belgium Brewery, which has won awards for its sustainability—and they are all mountain bikers, as well. Neither one of us could do this project without the other…Yeti needs to make this space to be more dynamic than what it would be as a stand alone business,” said Mueller.
The blueprints will be sketched after the zoning approval process is complete, in five to eight months. Yeti will focus solely on their property creation, while Neenan designs the complimentary office spaces to lease or sell to other business partners. Yeti is unable to confirm specific building plans until the zoning is approved, but the brand is very impressed with Neenan’s track record in sustainable design and intends to prioritize an eco-friendly construction.
Less than one week ago, Yeti submitted the rezoning application in conjunction with an official public announcement. After the news blast, at least six more companies reached out to inquire about joining the campus.
The only prohibitive factors for potential business partners are zoning restrictions related to the county regulations. The space is also commercial-use only. “No agricultural companies can occupy the space, and no car manufacturers—a bunch of applications for those have already been submitted for the west side of town,” said Mueller.
The Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation preformed an assessment of the local economic impact of the pending campus and issued a letter of support.
“This proposed project is a prime example of the innovation and leadership emerging out of the local industry,” said President & CEO of Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation Kristi Pollard in the letter. “An outdoor lifestyle campus of this scale highlights the impact that the outdoor industry has in Colorado, with the market poised for continued growth. We’re proud to see this drive for collaboration and support among outdoor brands, for the betterment of the Jefferson County business community."
Yeti has high hopes they’ll be able to develop their vision in the town they’ve called home for just shy of two decades.
“The campus would certainly create more opportunities for local businesses and an entrepreneurial environment, so we think it would be a significant impact overall on the community,” Mueller said.