It's beginning to feel a bit like musical chairs around here, what with all the shifting of folks from one job to another. This story's bouncing ball begins with The North Face terminating its in-house rep team and moving attentions to outside rep agencies around the country. For ease of focus, we'll only look at the West in this report.
Now, are you belted in for the ride? OK, let's go. Dennis Gafvert, formerly a rep for Sierra Designs, Montrail and Gregory and operating under the OASIS moniker for years, has been hired by TNF. No word on who will be replacing Gafvert with those other accounts in Northern California, but we hear Dan Miller, who reps the lines in Southern California, or Dominique Schwartz, former TNF in-house rep in the Northern California territory, have the inside track there.
Now, back to Gafvert, who won't of course be doing this TNF rep thing alone. Oh no. He has instead created a new super agency, which he will head. So, kiss goodbye to OASIS and enter Outdoor Adventure Sales (which is what the first three letters of OASIS stood for anyway). Joining Gafvert as part of OAS (Is that now pronounced "oh-ace?") will be: Tom Caldwell, formerly with Helly Hansen and Eagle Creek (and Columbia before that); Troy Trimmer, formerly of Montrail; and Heather Marshall, formerly TNF in-house rep whose account was REI.
According to Gafvert, what sold TNF on the OAS team approach was exactly that -- a team approach to representing TNF throughout the West territory, which includes Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Arizona, and Hawaii. Each member of the team has an expertise or focus. Caldwell will focus on outerwear and ski with some Tekware tossed in. Trimmer will focus on footwear. Marshall will continue in that role of repping TNF to REI. Gafvert will focus on equipment. One more person will be hired to rep Tekware. Retailers, who are used to seeing only one rep, will now see two, three, or even four depending on how much breadth of TNF product the store carries.
Gafvert told us that OAS would be hiring associates by next spring to assist as needed. In addition, OAS will be hiring a person whose sole focus is marketing and events. That person, Gafvert told us, would be responsible for the Outdoor Academy, which currently operates in Northern and Southern California. It is Gafvert's hope that OAS will be able to expand the reach of the Outdoor Academy into other states in the territory.
SNEWS® View: Wow! Gafvert told us he wanted to reinvent the rep position and he's certainly done that here. Either it will be a spectacular success or, a memorable failure. We suspect the former, as Gafvert, a former Leadership Excellence Award winner, is not lacking for either talent, creativity, or confidence. What will be interesting to see is how Gafvert's agency balances the need for TNF to remain special in the eyes of its loyal specialty retailers, while TNF continues its path of natural expansion into broader distribution networks, such as Macy's on the West coast.