Outdoor: Did you hear?...

Osprey pack owners relocate to Vietnam, Reno developing a whitewater park downtown, VF on the prowl for outdoor companies, Ojai promo gets chuckles, Clif steals a little Powerbar thunder at the Tour, Holcombe bringing new company to OR, Team Toad launches, COTI worth learning about...
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>> Now here's something you don't hear everyday -- company owners relocating to another country but still running the company back home. The owners of Osprey Packs, Mike Pfotenhauer and Diane Wren, have rented their house in Dolores, Colo., and are relocating to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam for a period of up to two years. Pfotenhauer has been traveling to Vietnam frequently since the company moved its manufacturing efforts to contract with manufacturing vendors there. Benefits to the company include the ability for Pfotenhauer to work directly with manufacturers, and on-site design and product development. A two-person design staff in Cortez will work with Pfotenhauer on design ideas, product development and management, and broadening pack options picked for eventual market distribution. Pfotenhauer will travel to key events in the United States, including Osprey's annual sales meeting and the two Outdoor Retailer trade shows. Thanks to today's technology, Wren will be able to continue to work in the company's finance department. Their children will attend school in Ho Chi Minh City.

>> While Utah's governor debates the value of recreation and wilderness, Reno, Nev., is executing a plan to develop a $1.5 million whitewater park and kayak slalom racing course on the Truckee River in downtown Reno. The program is being supported by Reno's mayor, Bob Cashell, as well as Nevada's Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt, as well as two casino owners who each loaned the project $500,000. Ground-breaking is on Aug. 7 with the project slated for full operation by January 2004. The whitewater park vision also includes improvements at eight publicly-owned sites over a 24-mile stretch of the Truckee River over the next several years.

>> Listening to the VF conference call this last week, it became quite clear that despite lower second quarter earnings and absorbing a $585.6 million hit to acquire Nautica, VF is still on the prowl for outdoor companies to buy and Mackey McDonald, VF's chairman and CEO, said as much. Little wonder since VF's Outdoor coalition business -- The North Face, JanSport and Eastpak brands -- have been doing splendidly, so much so that according to McDonald, TNF is outperforming the competition with a 14 percent increase in shipments in the second quarter. McDonald also stated that his company was going to significantly increase the funding behind its marketing for TNF, which is expanding its market share in Europe. Another bright spot for VF is the Eastpak brand, which had a 25 percent sales gain in the quarter -- thanks in large part to its dominance in Europe.

>> We get literally hundreds of press releases weekly, especially around trade show time, so when someone takes the time to inject a little creativity and humor into the process, it is appreciated. Huge chuckles go out to Ojai's owner Julio Varela and marketing director Rob Shurr (doubtless imbibing some of Julio's famous margarita mix) for their promotional angle on selling their men's apparel line, reworked this season with specialty retailers in mind. They promise the line is simple because they have trouble dressing themselves in the morning, too. Their complete line is wrinkle resistant (if you don't toss it onto a pile on the floor), waterproof (if you don't go out in the rain), and odor resistant (if you wash it once in a while). Now that kind of selling shtick absolutely deserves a visit from every specialty retailer -- booth 3309 (there's likely a margarita with your name on it there, too).

>> There we were, the SNEWS team glued to OLN watching the Tour de France each evening with coverage sponsored by Powerbar and knowing Lance Armstrong is a Powerbar-sponsored athlete when what should we see come out of the team car for U.S. Postal but a very clear view of a Clif Shot being handed to Heras who promptly gulped it down. The announcers said only that Heras was "taking in some nourishment." We checked with the folks at Clif who confirmed that while Lance is sponsored by Powerbar, U.S. Postal is sponsored by Clif as the official bar and gel for the team. "Every one of those guys eat an average of three Clif Bars, three Luna bars and seven Shots during each stage of the race," said a Clif spokesperson, clearly happy with the free TV exposure on Powerbar's dime -- and why not!

>> The Colorado Outdoor Training Initiative (COTI) web page, currently hosted by the National Trails Training Partnership, has been updated -- www.nttp.net/coti/. If you don't know about COTI, it's time you discovered the organization because there are those who hope to take this model to a national scale. Essentially, COTI is supported by federal, state and local agencies, as well as 15 volunteer organizations. COTI is creating a training program that will produce highly skilled crew leaders and staff who can work with volunteers to help maintain our public lands. In other words, no more waiting for a ranger to have time to work on a project, or getting frustrated with a ranger who was supposed to oversee a volunteer effort and has to head off to supervise another activity. For more information, email coti@voc.org.

>> Horny Toad Activewear has launched a new sponsorship program that will bring together athletes, performers and other influential individuals as members of Team Toad. The program launches this summer as Horny Toad signed on World Champion Mountain Unicyclist Kris Holm and PBS/BBC Adventure Scientist Ellen McCallie. "Team Toad will help bring the brand to life through individuals living out unique everyday adventures," said Head Toad Gordon Seabury. "Because of the lifestyle nature of our product, we can align ourselves with athletes and professionals of all kinds. Both Kris and Ellen exhibit the Toad personality and energy we're seeking to represent our brand -- making them great spokespeople for Horny Toad." Team Toad seeks those who fly by the seat of their pants, love to play, and lead an active and interesting lifestyle. For more information, contact 800-865-TOAD or go to www.hornytoad.com.

>> Dick Holcombe, formerly with Woolrich as an executive and most recently with AJ Prindle & Co., is back in the outdoor biz as the general manager of Allegheny Trail, a wholly owned subsidiary of Blair Corp -- a catalog and direct marketer of men's and women's apparel and home products. Allegheny Trail will be at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market this August with a line of men's and women's "outdoor apparel basics and entry-level prices." This is Blair's first foray into the wholesale business.

>> Ex Officio has hired Patricia Nugent into a new senior management position focusing on merchandising and design. Nugent's role at Ex Officio will be to head up the overall product and inventory strategy. This will include management of product development, agent relationships, manufacturing strategy, and overall merchandising and inventory plans. Nugent spent the last eight years with Cutter and Buck as vice president of merchandising and design during which time the business grew from a $3 million to $160 million apparel brand.

>> In related news, Ex O has hired three new sales reps. Jean Jenick, an outdoor apparel veteran for the past 20 years, will be taking over the Midwest territory. The Rocky Mountain territory will be managed by Jen Mastro, whose experience ranges from her years as a buyer for Neptune Mountaineering and Loveland Ski Shop. Mastro currently represents Horny Toad Activewear and Orage Skiwear in addition to Ex Officio. Cheryl Sternberg will head up Ex Officio's Southern territory including Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Louisiana. Sternberg brings Ex Officio years of experience in the outdoor and ski apparel industries.

>> Climbing Magazine has hired Jeff Achey as the magazine's new editor. Achey has been a prominent figure in the American climbing scene since the late 1970s, with first ascents and first free ascents to his credit. Achey has an extensive journalistic and photographic background that includes posts at Climbing as both photo editor and editor-at-large, author of "Guide to Climbing Photography" and a revised edition of "Climb! A History of Colorado Climbing." He has worked as a school teacher, and for 10 years as an instructor and course director for Outward Bound. Achey can be reached in the editor's office at 970-704-2602.

>> Action Optics (www.actionoptics.com), manufacturers of polarized eyewear for anglers and adventurers, has retained Flannel Design of Seattle, Wash., for advertising and collateral support. Flannel Design has worked with K2, Kelty and other active outdoor sports and lifestyle brands.

>> Asolo USA has hired Mitchell & Luken Sports Sales to represent the company in the Midwest territory. Mike Mitchell may be reached at mmitch6367@aol.com; Marcus Thornton is available at m.w.thornton@att.net; and Paul Versaw can be reached at paul.versaw@prodigy.net

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