Outdoor Research will become the exclusive North American distributor of Exped-branded products beginning Jan. 1, 2005. Carl Brody, who has headed Exped's distribution efforts here in the United States since late 2001, will continue working with Outdoor Research, initially coordinating the company's integration of Exped product into the line.
"We felt very strongly about the quality of the product and realized quite quickly that there was a lot of unrealized opportunity," Dan Nordstrom, OR's owner and CEO, told SNEWSÂ®.
"Carl has done a solid job, but he is only one guy and while he has been doing it for a number of years now, there is only so much one person can do to penetrate the market," added Nordstrom.
Exped and Outdoor Research were quite familiar with each other prior to this distribution decision. Exped was established as a Swiss distributor of high-end U.S. and European brands of outdoor gear, but changed direction in 1997 to primarily focus on its own designs and product. Despite the change, Exped has continued to distribute Outdoor Research branded products to the Swiss, Austrian and Germans markets.
We were told that Andreas Brun, Exped's owner and the designer of Exped branded products, will likely work closely with the Outdoor Research team on designs of future product ideas for Outdoor Research; in addition to those Exped creates.
Brun, who owns a number of patents, including one for welded seams in sleeping bags that he licenses to Mountain Hardwear, has gradually been making a name for himself in Europe and here in the United States. Exped also owns a patent for baffled mats filled with any type of natural or synthetic fill. In 2003, Exped was presented with the European Outdoor Award Product of the Year for the company's down-filled air mattress and it also nabbed a coveted Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice Award for the company's Sirius Extreme Tent.
SNEWSÂ® View: Strong move by Outdoor Research. While OR has been highly regarded for its bivi sack designs, the company has made no secret of its desire to enter into the tent, and also into the sleeping bag market. However, that is a leap of faith in a hyper-competitive market, even if a company has the services of expert designers on board. By becoming Exped's distribution partner in the North American market, OR not only adds sleeping bags, pads and tents to its product mix, it adds the services of a very talented designer and inventor, Andreas Brun, who will no doubt add his innovative design touches to Outdoor Research branded product. In many ways, this appears to be a perfect match for both as Brun also gets distribution clout he hasn't yet experienced in North America. Haven't heard of Exped yet? You will, count on it!