First of Seven OIA Regional Meetings Kicks Off Successfully

Sierra Designs, Marmot, The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Outside Interests, The Forest Group, OASIS, and REI hosted the first Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) regional gathering of the year on March 22 at the Lake Merritt Sailboat House in Oakland, Calif.
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Sierra Designs, Marmot, The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Outside
Interests, The Forest Group, OASIS, and REI hosted the first Outdoor
Industry Association (OIA) regional gathering of the year on March 22
at the Lake Merritt Sailboat House in Oakland, Calif.

This four-hour afternoon meeting, attended by more than 60 industry
members, was the first of seven planned for the year throughout the
country. OIA goals for the gatherings are to educate industry members
about the benefits of OIA, encourage feedback on how the OIA can make a
bigger difference for outdoor businesses, and to connect local
companies with relevant conservation issues and actions.

Speakers included Sally McCoy, president of Sierra Designs; Steve
Barker, president/founder of Eagle Creek; Mike Wallenfels, VP
sales/marketing of Mountain Hardwear; Dan Templin, CFO of TNF; Frank
Hugelmeyer, president of OIA; Dan Smuts, assistant regional director or
The Wilderness Society; and Steve Evans, conservation director of
Friends of The River.

Hugelmeyer told SNEWS® that perhaps most important aspect of the day was
that "We were able to introduce member companies to local conservation
groups that are seeking to expand the inventory of local recreation
areas or protect local areas. Those organizations got to meet key
contacts that they would not have made otherwise."

"It's all about networking. If we keep doing the regional meetings long
enough, a spark is going to light locally and the events will take on a
life of their own," said Barker, who was one of the driving forces
behind establishing regional meetings. "It makes so much sense to be
doing things like this regionally and locally to get employees that
don't normally hear what is going on in the industry involved in the
industry."

Business for Wilderness, a program of OIA's non-profit foundation,
asked attending businesses to sign a letter that will be sent to the
Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. The letter requests the support of
the original Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which protects 58.5
million acres of roadless forests. In May, Business for Wilderness will
launch a report on the roadless issue and its impact on outdoor
recreation.

Dan Smuts, representing the California Wild Heritage Campaign, provided
ideas and action opportunities to protect California's remaining
Wilderness and Wild Rivers. "America's outdoor human powered recreation
industry contributed $18 billion to the U.S. economy in 2000. As
industry leaders, I urge you to work with us and Business for
Wilderness to protect the wilderness areas that are so vital to our
lives and your businesses," said Smuts.

OIA has plans to hold six more regional events this year. Dates are
tentative and each meeting event location is still in need of member
sponsors before dates and times can be solidified. At the request of
Nike, the city of Portland, Ore., has just been added as a location
with no date set yet. Seattle, Wash., is slated for July;
Chicago/Madison, September; Greenville, North Carolina, September
(hoped to be near EORA show dates); and Denver, Col., October. For more
information, or to join the list of sponsors for future regional
meetings, contact b4winfo@outdoorindustry.org.

SNEWS® View: Our
eyes on the scene tell us that while the number of attendees was
impressive, the number of retailer bodies was not -- maybe six by
several counts. We know REI was there, and a couple of Any Mountain
staff (say, don't they have over 14 stores?), and a couple others from
local independent shops (where the heck was Marmot from Berkeley or
Western Mountaineering from San Jose?). We are glad to hear Sally
McCoy, Steve Barker, Frank Hugelmeyer and others echo that the meetings
need to become more interactive and perhaps focusing on issues that can
become local action items. We also fully endorse the concept as the
perfect way for this industry to unite with, communicate with, mentor
to, and inspire staff who don't typically get to go to trade shows, or
get out into the industry much. Is a regional coming to a city near
you? Then don't waste a minute and sign up now to become a member
sponsor and get involved for the good of the industry and your company.

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