Macpac's made the most of its first year in the U.S.

Far too many international companies dance onto U.S. shores proclaiming that each is here to capture its share of the great American outdoor market. It takes real effort to succeed in the United States and the competition is fierce. Which is why for the SNEWS® team, it is refreshing to watch a company such as Macpac.
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Far too many international companies dance onto U.S. shores proclaiming that each is here to capture its share of the great American outdoor market. Too often, statements regarding numerous astronomical distribution and growth targets are also made, with most of the international wannabes finding the bubble gets quickly burst and that the U.S. market is not as ripe for picking as perceived. It takes real effort to succeed in the United States and the competition is fierce. Which is why for the SNEWS® team, it is refreshing to watch a company such as Macpac.

It's been quite an active year for the company, to say the least.

McIntyre welcomes new CEO on board to further growth
In August, Bruce McIntyre stepped aside and Graeme Lord took over the helm as CEO.

McIntyre told SNEWS®, "After the shock of September 11 in 2001, I made the decision to return full time to Macpac, in order to re-establish our company direction. As you know, this change led us to shift manufacturing offshore, to strengthen our design and marketing capabilities, and to open our sales to the international marketplace. Now that these changes are in place and working, it is time for us to focus on our internal performance, so that we can successfully grow further as New Zealand's leading international outdoors brand.

"(Lord) and I have been working together now for four months, refining our business strategy for this exciting challenge. I have been impressed with (Lord's) affinity with the strategic direction and the cultural and brand values of Macpac. As the father of three young children with his partner Lisa, family is also an important part of his life. So he promises to be a great model of the balanced lifestyle that is an important part of Macpac's message."

McIntyre remains as managing director of the company he helped co-found, and will be very active, he tells us, working more closely with product design, as well as consulting with Lord in the areas of company direction and strategy.

New sales manager for North America
John Campbell has moved into the role of national sales manager for Macpac in North America, effective Jan. 1. Campbell was Macpac's New England and Mid-Atlantic sales rep during the past year and will report to Brian Alder, vice president of sales for Macpac.

"Taking on the role of sales manager for North America was an addition to my normal responsibilities of overall (VP) sales manager for Macpac," Alder told us. "It has been an enlightening and extremely beneficial year as we now have great insight at a senior level about the U.S. market and will be better able to support John's sales efforts going forward. For me personally, it will mean my wife will get to see me more often!"

Added Campbell, "This year my main focus will be growing the business through new and existing dealers we have on board for 2006. To support this, we will be adding representation in key territories. As well, I will spend some energy prospecting for new dealers that we believe will be the foundation for our business in territories that we have yet to enter, with a view to adding growth and coverage for 2007."

Building on a stable foundation
Last year, SNEWS® asked McIntyre as his company readied to open up the United States for the first time, what number it would take for his company to consider a U.S. venture successful. McIntyre told us then that he believed 50 solid retail accounts would be a strong number, but that it would take more than a year to get there. As of Jan. 1, Macpac has 27 accounts, which Alder told us is right inline with projections.

U.S. projected and actual sales for 2005 were $100,000, and it expects to add 15 to 20 more retail accounts in 2006.  

Macpac is not just focusing on the U.S. market in 2006, though. Lord told SNEWS®, "Key for Macpac next year is growing our brand in new international markets to add to our presence in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and Europe. John's efforts in North America are key to this as well as growing our presence in Asia in partnership with our distributors.

"To support this, we are continuing to build our design team, along with growing sales of Interwool clothing, and building on the tremendous reception from AR (adventure racing) athletes and mountaineers. Of course, we'll be making sure we retain our Kiwi approach to business and having some fun."

SNEWS® View: While there are certainly companies that wouldn't find much good news in the growth track Macpac targeted for 2005 and 2006, Macpac has been realistic about setting achievable goals and is genuinely proud of what it has been able to achieve. Moreover, the company really wants retailers to know that it's a solid brand that can be trusted to do what it says it will do. Let's see, we have an international company staffed with folks we can assure you are well worth spending time with in the backcountry or around a bar stool. In addition, it is a company that makes superb product, has a realistic sense of values, cares about its employees and its retailers, and won't make a promise it can't keep. What's not to like about that? Sometimes, small is just big enough to be great.

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