Brian Bennett has only been at Mountainsmith for a short time as the new executive vice president of marketing, but he's already accomplished big things. He recently returned from a meeting with Vail resorts and Mountainsmith is now the official pack and luggage supplier for all its facilities. An exciting prospect in itself, but Bennett is also energized by the other Strategic Alliance members (official sponsors of Vail Resorts) he met during his meetings.
"The real big side benefit is that we get to network with other Alliance members -- BMW, Starbucks, Hewlett Packard, Coors, Gatorade. Here we are a small backpacking brand out of Golden and we're rubbing elbows with some of the premier brands of the world," he said. "I can't put a dollar value on the return in terms of those relationships."
For Bennett, marketing is a huge transition from his roots as a sales guy. For the last seven years, he worked his way up the ladder of Kelty from customer service manager to sales manager to director of sales. Before that, he worked with Cannondale and was an independent rep.
"I've shifted roles pretty dramatically," Bennett admits. "I think I bring a unique perspective to marketing because I think as a salesperson. The way I differentiated myself and the way I differentiated Kelty was that we really spent a lot of time positioning the company and really getting a message out about who we were , what we saw going on in the marketplace, and what we were doing to react to that. Instead of doing that from a sales position, I'll be doing that from a marketing standpoint for Mountainsmith. I think in a lot of ways, they're very similar."
In his new position, Bennett will be responsible for the strategic direction of Mountainsmith, and all of the company's marketing, design and development, and operations. Also, he'll be working closely with the parent company's sourcing arm, 105 Meridian, and offering input on sales.
Bennett is focusing on building Mountainsmith's brand image for the next three to five years and creating a campaign that gets that message out.
"The beauty of this brand is based on what's happening in this market where there's a lot of shift toward lifestyle as opposed to traditional outdoor activities. Everybody is trying to figure out how to go after that in-a-day consumer. We'll never walk away from our roots as a backpack company, but as a brand, I believe we transcend those markets better than some of the cornerstone outdoor brands who are somewhat pigeonholed by who they've been for the last 30 or 50 years," he said. "I'm excited to be here to do that with the Mountainsmith brand because if I were to use a word, I'm really impressed by their versatility. We can be a lot of things. The brand resonates across product boundaries, and we're positioned a little bit better in that respect compared to our competitors."