Outdoor: Did you hear?...

GearTrends.com garners attention from trade and consumers, Access Fund creates Boulder Project to reach young users, REI partners with BCM to provide jobs to at-risk youth, Hooked on the Outdoors looking for Outdoor Person of the Year, plus much more....
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>> GearTrends.com, the sister website of SNEWSnet.com, and one of the family of products owned by SNEWS LLC, is garnering serious attention among trade and consumer visitors. In March, the site saw over 20,000 unique visitors who, in turn, viewed over 103,000 pages. One of the site visitors was a New York Times columnist who commented, "I can't believe I didn’t know about your site before, this is fantastic." That columnist found GearTrends® while searching for a product during her story research, and as a result, interviewed site co-publisher Michael Hodgson -- read the full story by clicking here. Therese Iknoian, co-publisher of GearTrends®, was also mentioned recently in a Smart Money article, as well as in a feature story about Nordic walking in the Buffalo News. In addition, GearTrends® will receive a mention in the June issue of Ladies Home Journal.

>> The Access Fund is on the cusp of launching a new endeavor -- The Boulder Project. The goal is to not only reach out to the bouldering community -- and, of course, the communities in which boulderers, well, boulder -- but to also tap into a youthful group that some feel are broadly misunderstood by helping them to respect the land and the places they recreate. While it is true that many of them don't own hiking boots, nor have they ever been more than 30 feet off the ground on any climb, these youthful athletes do climb, and they climb with passion and focus. By engaging them, the Access Fund believes it can tap into their energy for the good of the entire industry. The Boulder Project will be officially launched at The Phoenix Boulder Blast, April 23-25. For more, click here.

>> REI is supporting a pilot project within the San Francisco Bay Area in partnership with Big City Mountaineers (BCM) to provide summer employment to BCM teens. Teens who have participated with BCM on a prior trip will have an opportunity to work for REI, providing yet another vital link in the goal of showing at-risk youth they can have a strong future. All teens nominated by BCM adult leaders will be invited to an REI Job Clinic on April 21. To ensure success in this program, all teens hired will also participate in a Jobs Training Program offered through East Oakland Youth Development Center prior to starting with REI in May.

>> With the backing of its board of directors, adidas-Salomon tendered an offer on March 31 to buy the remaining 20.8 percent of the common shares of Salomon & Taylor Made Co., Ltd. (Japan) not already owned by the adidas-Salomon Group. Herbert Hainer, chairman and CEO of adidas-Salomon, said in a statement: "Achieving our goal of full ownership of Salomon & Taylor Made Co., Ltd. will enable us to raise operational efficiency, and will facilitate expansion of our business in Japan, to the long-term benefit of employees, retailers and consumers. At the same time, this tender offer represents an opportunity for shareholders to realize a substantial premium to the market value of their investment." Salomon S.A., which owns 79.2 percent of the common shares of Salomon & Taylor Made Co., Ltd., will offer to buy all remaining outstanding common shares (3,228,400 shares) at a price of 1,200 yen (about USD $11.57) per share. Salomon & Taylor Made Co., Ltd. directors who are shareholders have expressed their intention to tender their shares. The tender offer will close on May 13, and it is expected that shares of Salomon & Taylor Made Co., Ltd. will be deregistered from JASDAQ.

>> Over the weekend, Columbia Sportswear was the presenting sponsor of the 19th annual Jimmie Heuga Snow Express for MS International Final in Vail and Beaver Creek, Colo. Since January, Snow Express races have been held at 15 resorts in the United States and Canada and the winners of those events competed in the finals April 1-4. 2004 marks the 11th year that Columbia has been the presenting sponsor, outfitting event staff, VIPs and event champions in pieces from the Titanium outerwear and GRT sportswear lines. The Heuga Center was founded in 1984 by former Olympic ski racer Jimmie Heuga to help improve the lives of people with multiple sclerosis through educational and wellness programs. Snow Express is the primary fund-raiser for The Heuga Center.

>> SnowSports Industries America (SIA) has reported that the SIA.05 SnowSports Show, scheduled January 24-27, 2005, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, is officially sold out. SIA tells us that this is the first time in the history of the show they have sold out so early. New exhibitors Patagonia, The North Face, Garmont and Yakima will be joining the more than 360 exhibitors occupying 321,000 square feet of exhibit space. The first draft of the floor plan will be available for viewing on www.thesnowtrade.org in mid-April. For companies that would like to exhibit at SIA.05 but have not yet requested space, a wait list program has been developed to ensure that any space that becomes available through attrition is allocated on a priority basis.

>> A salute to the clueless…or, a salute to a recently acquired company that has to now use an ad agency to place even the simplest classified, thereby ensuring they are spending twice as much money as needed. To protect the clueless, we will not mention names, other than to say the company involved was recently acquired and is now owned by a very large investment bank, so perhaps this is not entirely its fault? A few days ago, SNEWS® received our fourth, in what has been a series of calls all spread over a two-week period, each from a different person in the same agency, each wanting to confirm an ad placement to run for a specific period on our website. Each time, we pause, then try, as politely as possible, to inform the nice folks at the agency that we are an online publication and placing a classified is easy -- ya just go online, enter the information, and provide a credit card number. We also inform each one that we have just received a call like this, from someone else at their office. To which they pause, gasp, and then say, "Umm, you mean someone else here has talked to you?" Sigh. We respond that yes, we've probably talked to their entire staff and that no, to date, no classified for the company has been placed, other than the one which was placed by the company itself, probably because it became exasperated waiting for the ad agency to figure out what to do. The nice person at the agency then responds with a "so, this is only an online service?" Yes is our reply. "So, you mean we have to go online and place the ad?" If they could only see our eyes roll. Umm, yes, since we are an online service, it would follow that you have to go online to place the ad. Cost of placing a SNEWS® classified: $55. Cost of placing a SNEWS® classified through an agency? Astronomical, we're sure.

>> Hooked on the Outdoors magazine (www.ruhooked.com) is seeking nominations for the second annual Outdoor Person of the Year award. The deadline for nominations is June 30. Finalists will be profiled in the February 2005 issue of the magazine, and will be honored with a $1,000 contribution made in their name to the cause of their choice. Eligible nominees for the 2004 Outdoor Person of the Year award include those that "live and breathe the outdoors, have accomplished a significant outdoor achievement, have given back to the outdoor community, and remain selfless in their pursuit of their love for the outdoors," according to the magazine publishers. Nominations, including a brief description (500 words or less), may be submitted via email to editor@ruhooked.com with "Outdoor Person of the Year" as the subject head. Regular mail entries should be sent to Outdoor Person of the Year, Hooked On the Outdoors, 2040 30th St., Ste. A, Boulder, CO 80301. In 2003, the first annual Outdoor Person of the Year award recipient was Greg Mortensen, a veteran climber and founder of the Central Asia Institute, a humanitarian organization focusing on northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortenson's group is active in the creation of schools, water systems, bridges and waste facilities; the financing of teacher salaries; and the education of more than 8,200 children in the region.

>> Hi-Tec is very excited to see strong growth globally, and moderate growth in the United States considering the market's trend away from traditional hiking boot sales the company tells SNEWS®. Total revenues for the U.K-based company rose 15 percent to $170 million, with U.K. sales experiencing the largest leap up 21 percent to $64 million. In the U.S. footwear sales climbed a respectable 9 percent to $50 million. Hi-Tec reported that the gains were as a result of increased demand for golf and outdoor footwear, as well as a result of the rebranded athletic footwear line. A U.S. company representative told SNEWS that "Substantial growth is anticipated in 2004 due to the introduction of the backpacking collection, enhanced multi-sport offerings, strong Altitude sales and an exciting new kids' initiative being launched at the next Outdoor Retailer show."

>> For 2004, Tubbs Snowshoe Company expanded its successful Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer, Winter Walk Series and raised more than $66,000 -- significantly more than the $44,600 raised during 2003 -- for four affiliates of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to benefit breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment. The 2004 Romp to Stomp series, consisting of four events, raised $55,100 in pledges. Tubbs also donated a percentage of the net proceeds from the sales of all of its women's snowshoe models to the Komen Foundation. "With the additional $11,000 raised from our on-product program, we raised a total of $66,100 from our 2004 Romp Series, 100 percent of which will go to the local area Susan G. Komen Foundation affiliates," said Kathy Murphy, general manager for Tubbs.

>> Horny Toad President Gordon Seabury tells us that every good adventure needs a killer soundtrack, which would explain why the company is pairing up with Relix magazine to introduce and distribute original sounds from up-and-coming unsigned musical artists to listeners around the country. Relix Jam Off offers an opportunity for young artists to take the stage and bring their musical expression to audiences and to a compilation CD. This marks the first time that Horny Toad, a leading outdoor lifestyle apparel brand, will partner with a leading player in the music industry. Relix accepted submissions from bands and artists starting in August 2003. Since then, 10 winners have been chosen based on creativity, musicianship, originality, songwriting and style for inclusion on the Relix compilation CD and to perform at Jam Off. Jam Off will take place at the Lion's Den in New York City on April 20. The compilation CD featuring the finalists' music will be produced and distributed to Relix subscribers and at music festivals and events throughout the country.

>> Mountainsmith and parent company, 105 Meridien, have opened a new corporate production office in Hong Kong. The office will facilitate management of the company's Asian-based factories and suppliers. Development, sourcing and production for Mountainsmith's growing business, as well as the business of 105 Meridien's OEM partners, will also be coordinated from the new office. According to Greg Thomsen, president of Mountainsmith, "Our new Hong Kong office is part of a long-term expansion plan and confirmation of our commitment to both the Mountainsmith brand and to our OEM partners. We are focused on offering new products at the most competitive prices and with the best materials and workmanship available." 105 Meridien already operates an office in Taichung, Taiwan, with a third office scheduled to open in Shanghai on June 1.

>> Ortovox is offering a wireless transceiver training system to patrols, snow safety schools and guide operations around the world. Ortovox's Search Training System allows one person to manage the entire search scenario and all variables from one portable control panel. For more information, go to www.ortovox.com.

>> After three years as executive director, Risa Shimoda is leaving American Whitewater to pursue other professional and boating interests that utilize her marketing and management skills. Shimoda has a long history with AW that started in the early '80s as an active volunteer and included a one-year stint in 1989 as the interim director. Shimoda told SNEWS® she is most psyched about the programs that she helped initiate including the Corporate Sponsorship Plan, which has industry companies contributing funds to the non-profit; the Outdoor Alliance, an alliance of six national conservation and recreation groups which is lobbying on Capitol Hill for the first time this week; and the Paddlesports Leadership Council, a partnership of paddle groups with a platform for cooperative marketing agreements, partnering on projects and developing strategic alignments. Shimoda's last day is May 1. A search for her replacement is about to start, and in the meantime, AW National Policy Director Jason Robertson will serve as acting executive director. To keep in touch, Shimoda is available at risashimoda@msn.com.

>> HighGear (branded as TechTrail in Europe) is focusing on expanding the company's international business with the addition of a new international sales manager. Barry Robertson will be taking over the position of international sales. He brings a people-oriented style of management, which he has honed over 15 years in the outdoor industry working for U.S., Canadian, European and New Zealand companies, where he was as well known for his cross-cultural skills as his product knowledge. In addition, the company has retained Coral Darby, whose company Darby Communications will be providing international PR and media support to HighGear.

>> Kelty has hired Kevin Karch as its new national sales manager. Karch's role at Kelty will include personal service to a select group of top 50 accounts and buying groups, as well as designing and implementing strategies for specialty markets nationwide. Previously, Karch was the Eastern regional sales manager for JanSport. His outdoor industry sales experience includes five years as an independent sales rep in the Northwest.

>> Confluence Watersports has hired Jared Noceti for the California, Nevada and Arizona territory. Noceti will be assisting Confluence's Cathy Weil with the territory until the end of this season, when Noceti will assume all territory responsibilities and Weil transitions to working with Confluence on a consulting basis. Noceti will be based out of his home office in Sacramento, Calif. Noceti, a California native, comes to Confluence after five years with Watermark as a sales rep for the same territory.

>> Deuter has added Ben Winther to the company's growing sales team. Winther operates an independent sales rep business working the New England territory (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) and currently represents Walden Kayaks, Moonstone Mountain Equipment, Northern Lights Stoves, Bic Sport Kayaks, Ranger Canoe, North Water Paddle and Rescue Equipment, Crescent Moon Snow Shoes, Mad River Rocket Sleds, Gaia Paddlesports and now Deuter backpacks.

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