Outdoor: Did you hear?...

TNF's Egeck gets promotion from VF, Kelty scores coveted beer sponsorship, RailRiders returns to wholesale market, HB Climbing Equipment acquired by management team, plus much, much more….
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>> Mike Egeck, president of The North Face, has been named president of Outdoor - North America by parent company VF Corp. In his new role, Egeck will oversee VF's Outdoor Coalition companies -- The North Face, Jansport and Eastpak -- and its recent acquisitions Vans and Napapijri. All senior management will stay in place at these companies and report to Egeck, who will remain in TNF's San Leandro, Calif., headquarters. A search for a new TNF president is underway. Karl Heinz Salzburger will remain the president of Outdoor - International, overseeing TNF, Jansport, Eastpak, Napapijri and Nautica in Europe and Asia. SNEWS® talked to Egeck during TNF's weekend sales meeting in Lake Tahoe about his recent promotion. "The primary responsibility is portfolio management for the outdoor companies in North and South America," he said. "A lot of it is just making sure we have the right senior leadership in place. We're seeing oversight over the general strategies and then we continue to look for companies to acquire in the portfolio. We've been very systematic about breaking outdoor business into sub-segments and we'll continue to look for companies that we think have superior opportunities within each of those segments." Holes to fill, he said, are in the action sports, snow sport and equipment arenas. "We think there's definitely opportunity for more action sports companies. That's an area of the industry that's not very consolidated at all and has lots of exciting brands," he said. Overseeing VF's entire outdoor operation in the western hemisphere is a heavy load, but Egeck is optimistic because of the quality of its existing companies and acquisitions. "It's a lot of responsibility, but the nice thing is the companies we're acquiring and what we're intending to acquire aren't broken companies. They have good momentum themselves, well-developed infrastructure, both in management and systems. (I'll have) the responsibility for coordinating the efforts and trying to find the synergies," he said. Egeck also told us that Mike Schulman will shift from TNF sportswear product director to product director for Napapijri. Replacing Schulman is Wynn Anderson, who was previously with Nike for 14 years, and "hit the ground running" at the recent TNF sales meeting.

>> Beginning this month, Kelty will launch a series of brand partnerships with Oskar Blues Brewery, the Lyons, Colo., maker of Dale's Pale Ale and Old Chub, billed as America's first full-flavored, hand-canned craft beer. "I've dreamed of having a beer sponsor for a long time," said Casey Sheahan, president of Kelty, "This is one of the happiest days of my life." Currently, Oskar, whose slogan on its beer cans is "Pack It In Pack It Out," is distributed in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Virginia, as well as on Frontier airlines. The beer company will be expanding distribution into Washington and Oregon, as well as Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. At present, the co-promotion means all sales meetings for Kelty are well stocked with libations. It also means Kelty has a presence on signs and in promotions in liquor stores with free drawings to win a Kelty backpack as well as more contests planned like guessing how many pale ales it takes to fill a Kelty tent to win it -- the tent, not the pale ales. SNEWS® View: Well, considering that July is National Beer Month (yes, they have a month for just about anything these days), Kelty's timing is perfect. Beer jokes aside this move is both fun and smart. Suddenly, the Kelty brand name is in front of shoppers at liquor stores exposing the brand to a new set of eyes and potential consumers. Kelty will be working with Oskar Blues we've been told to have coupons inside 12 packs in certain distribution areas that can be redeemed at specialty retailers for Kelty product -- yet another smart move. And no, this doesn't mean Kelty will start accepting beer as payment for invoices.

>> RailRiders Adventure Clothing -- a relatively well-known brand in the adventure racing community -- is returning to selling wholesale after a four-year hiatus selling direct to consumers through the company catalog. Company owner John d'Arbeloff told SNEWS® that when he exited the wholesale business in 1999, it was due to the significant increase in competition on the adventure apparel side, and coming to the realization that he needed to work on building the brand equity with consumers to be successful at retail. "I always intended to return to selling to retailers once we had established our brand," said d'Arbeloff. RailRiders is offering retailers 60 point margin on most of the line, d'Arbeloff said.

>> Columbia Sportswear and Garmin will be joining Jeep and NBC as sponsors of Jeep World of Adventure Sports, a new action-adventure sports series that debuted on NBC April 10. The program airs its next episode on May 22. The TV series, produced by NBC and sports-marketing firm Aura360, covers adventure and action sports around the world. Columbia, Garmin and the Jeep brand will appear in more than 24 pages of print advertising in adventure sports-related publications, including Sports Illustrated. They also will be featured on www.WorldofAdventureSports.com. In addition, the brands will gain visibility through sweepstakes and promotions across all media channels including a nationally distributed Sports Illustrated cover wrap. Promotion prizes include a Garmin GPS handheld unit, Revo sunglasses and Columbia outerwear, as well as a Jeep vehicle as the grand prize. As the exclusive outerwear sponsor of the series, Columbia will outfit host Pat Parnell and other show talent plus the NBC Sports crew with all-weather technical gear from its 2004 Titanium Outerwear collection. Garmin is the exclusive electronic navigation provider for the series. Garmin products and GPS systems will be utilized and featured in various events and used by production crews operating in the field.

>> Trails.com has partnered with Outward Bound West and will provide free Trail Finder subscriptions to more than 10,000 Outward Bound West students, alumni and outreach volunteers. The one-year Trail Finder subscriptions offer access through Trails.com's website to 30,000 guidebook trails covering 30 activities across North America, unlimited topographic maps, trailhead weather, trail reviews and much more.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- According to Outdoor i, a subscription-based newsletter published in Great Britain, Osprey Europe has now moved into a 5,000-square-foot warehouse and office facilities in Dorset, England. The company, which is partly owned by Osprey, began selling to the trade in January 2004 and will start to ship product on July 1, assuming full responsibility for the marketing and warranty of all Osprey products in Europe from that date. For this first shipping season, Osprey Europe has reported increased preseason, like-for-like sales by 53 percent

>> According to a story published May 16 in the Seattle Times, L.L. Bean has filed lawsuits in District Court in Portland, Ore., against Nordstrom, J.C. Penny, Atkins and Gevalia for triggering pop-up ads promoting those retailers that appeared when some consumers visited www.llbean.com. Apparently, all four retailers utilize software from Claria, a company that creates programs to track online habits of consumers. The programs create windows to display specific advertisements when a browser visits certain sites.

>> Buck executives put pen to paper and gave the OK for construction to start on their new headquarters and manufacturing facility in Post Falls, Idaho, in June. A long-time California company based in El Cajon, the upcoming move was prompted because of the rising manufacturing costs in the state. "This is one of the most significant steps in our company's history," CJ Buck, president and CEO of Buck Knives, said in a statement. "Everything about the business-friendly environment in Idaho offers significant opportunities for us to make our greatest strides forward in years. Over the years, Lean Manufacturing has helped us increase our production capacity, and with our new 135,000-square-foot facility, we'll be able to produce more knives in a smaller space, and keep more jobs in America." Using a staggered transition plan to ensure a smooth changeover, Buck Knives will begin relocation to Post Falls in early 2005. Marketing and sales offices will remain in San Diego, Calif.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- HB Climbing Equipment -- www.hbclimbing.com -- has been acquired from Hugh and Maureen Banner by the management team. Hugh Banner will continue as a part-time consultant with the company, Outdoor i reported. The new ownership team is led by Stuart Beardmore who assumes the position of managing director; Ken Lockett who joined the company in 1993 is technical director; Pete Skidmore is manufacturing director (Pete joined the company in 1988); and Arwel Williams, who has been with the company eight years, is financial director.

>> Five Ten is saying goodbye to Bill Birch, the company's U.K. sales agent for the past 10 years, and hello to Big Stone Ltd., its new agency in the U.K. Birch is leaving to pursue other interests and to spend more time with his family. "Bill worked hard and helped make Five Ten the leading brand in the U.K. and we appreciate his service," said Charles Cole, president of Five Ten. Based in Sheffield, Big Stone has been handling sales for the past 11 years and also represents Arc'Teryx. It has named Mark Busby as the U.K. brand manager for Five Ten, who said he plans to "improve the level of service by using the resources of a fully-manned, well-managed office and by being genuinely immersed in the U.K. climbing scene." Busby added that the company has strategic plans for improving clinics and customer support. The transition to the new agency will take several months and Birch will continue with Five Ten until Sept. 30 and represent the company at the July OutDoor Show in Friedrichshafen. For more information, contact mark@bigstone.co.uk.

>> More than 13,000 spectators lined the Truckee River last week to watch some of the world's best kayakers compete in the Professional Rodeo Invitational and the Wave Sport Boater Cross at the first annual Reno River Festival in Reno, Nev. While the river was reportedly running a bit lower than usual -- 300 to 400 cubic feet per second -- Confluence Watersports' Team Wave Sport posted impressive results. In the Wave Sport-sponsored boater cross event, Bryan Kirk took the gold in the new Wave Sport Diesel 75, ahead of former Olympic Slalom paddlers Eric Jackson and Scott Shipley. In the women's competition, Tanya Faux and Brooke Winger took gold and silver, respectively, also in Diesel 75's. In the Professional Rodeo Invitational, Winger took the gold in the women's competition and teammate Tanya Shuman was fourth. On the men's side, Wave Sport paddlers Kirk, Jimmy Blakeney and Javid Grubbs were fourth, sixth and seventh, respectively.

>> Johnson Outdoors founder Samuel C. Johnson, businessman, philanthropist and environmentalist, died quietly at his home in Racine, Wis., on May 22. An internationally respected business leader, Johnson believed "business should serve a higher purpose in life" and advocated corporate practices that valued people as much as profits. Johnson became chairman of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc. in 1967 and turned a small wax company started by his great-grandfather into four global companies employing more than 28,000 people. By the time he retired in 2000, he had increased the business 40 times over with well-known brands like Glade, Raid, Pledge, Edge, Windex and Ziploc, and expanded into financial services with the Johnson Financial Group and into outdoor recreation products with Johnson Outdoors Inc. He is survived by his wife of 50 years Imogene (Powers), four children, 12 grandchildren and three step-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at the A.F. Siebert Chapel at Carthage College on May 27.

>> Climbing magazine is the presenting sponsor of the climbing element in this year's Teva Mountain Games held in Vail, Colo., in June. Billed as one of the largest celebrations of mountain sports and culture in the United States, the event is expected to attract professional and amateur athletes from around the world to compete in bouldering, mountain biking, whitewater paddling, and cross-country running events. To view a complete listing of events and schedule details, go to www.tevamountaingames.com.

>> GERMANY -- Take note late-planners: Air France is a new partner for the upcoming summer ispo show in Munich, Germany. Air France offices and call centers will offer discounted rates for worldwide flights to ispo visitors and ispo exhibitors -- 45 percent off on regular economy class rates for departures from France and further discounts for other international flights. Rates are available July 2-8 for roundtrip flights. Call +33 (0)820 820 820 or visit the nearest Air France office. Refer to ispo code AXZE ISPO when making your flight reservation and identify yourself as an ispo trade visitor or exhibitor when checking in for your flight by showing an exhibitor ticket, a trade visitor ticket, guest ticket or your ispocard.

>> Carl Davis, vice president and general counsel for Columbia Sportswear, is leaving that position and taking on the new job of vice president of governmental affairs. His new role will start July 15 and he will be responsible for lobbying activities, political relations and public affairs. Davis will work part time at the Columbia as he transitions toward full retirement. Peter Bragdon, currently chief of staff for Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and a previous Columbia employee, will assume Davis' vice president and general counsel post in mid-July.

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