Ruzic leaves Lafuma to launch Russi Mountainworks - SNEWS

Ruzic leaves Lafuma to launch Russi Mountainworks

Ed Ruzic has resigned from his position as general manager of Lafuma North America and launched his own company, Russi Mountainworks. Ruzic also reacquired Madden Mountaineering.

Ed Ruzic has resigned from his position as general manager of Lafuma North America and launched his own company, Russi Mountainworks. Ruzic also reacquired Madden Mountaineering.

Russi Mountainworks will be based in Boulder, Colo., and produce nothing but high-end packs for the specialty market, Ruzic told SNEWS. And yes, he realizes the market is crowded, that price points are low, and that the market in general is flat. So why launch another pack brand?

"I think that regardless of the market or economic conditions, there will always be demand for high-end product that has limited distribution, great customer service and superior quality," he said.

"Our packs will be very high end. I am not interested in competing at the mass-market level. I am not interested in high volume or producing off shore," Ruzic added.

Russi will begin its quest to open just 100 dealers at the upcoming Outdoor Retailer winter trade show and the company guarantees that it will support those dealers by ensuring exclusive territories.

"I will make this guarantee that we will be out of the business before we open 101 stores. We also promise that our products will be in stock all the time. With our business model, I don't require preseason orders and while we have a means for offering close-outs on our website for those times when we make a bad call, we are in no way seeking to increase sales through low pricing," Ruzic said.

Russi's model relies heavily on an electronic distribution strategy the company will officially unveil at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. Authorized dealers of Russi product will be able to log into and place orders online. But that's just the teaser. Retailers will also be able to view their purchasing history online, check inventory levels, manage warranties and repairs, check available credit, view open orders and more.

Ruzic told SNEWS, "When a customer places an order with us, they'll receive an immediate confirmation of that order and when the order ships, they'll receive a notification along with a tracking number so they can know where their order is at all times until it arrives at their store."

Why just packs? "I'm a bag man. And I know I can offer something to the market that will get retailers and consumers excited about what they see. We will always stick to packs because we are pack people totally, nothing more."

Russi's line of packs will be very sport-specific, Ruzic told us. Using a patent-pending soft-shell external frame, the Exo-Stretch will turn heads, Ruzic said. The frame design eliminates the need for rigid aluminum stays and allows the pack to better hug the body of the user, making the packs ideal for active sports such as trekking, rock climbing, ice climbing and backcountry skiing.

Oh, and Ruzic states his packs will carry an unconditional lifetime guarantee. As long as the original owner has the pack, the company will repair or replace it -- period.

SNEWS View: We love to hear about product launches like this. It's not just new product, it is an entire concept of product and production and delivery all wrapped up into a forward-thinking business plan. In many ways, Ruzic has stumbled onto a way to embrace an old-fashioned business approach in an electronic platform. Great idea, Ed. We wish you well!


Lafuma America restructuring to grow outdoor business

Lafuma America is not going anywhere but into a growth mode, Guillaume Linossier, general manager, told SNEWS. The rumor mill has been grinding into overdrive regarding the fate of Lafuma America, with favorites ranging from "going out-of-business" to "they're transferring more


Tommy Knoll leaves C.A.M.P. to launch Earthwerx venture

As C.A.M.P. announced in its June 7 news release on SNEWS®, “U.S. Division of C.A.M.P. Acquired as Wholly Owned Subsidiary” (click here to read), Tommy Knoll’s eight-year run leading C.A.M.P. USA is over. Now, he’s seeking to launch a new business venture called Earthwerx. For more

Griner leaves Omni; Life to more closely integrate retailer

Rick Griner, president of Omni Fitness since April 2001, has resigned his position, effective June 15. Chris Clawson, most recently vice president of sales and marketing for the Life Fitness consumer division, has been named to head Omni as "general manager." At the same time, more

Ruzic launching women's pack company

Ed Ruzic, owner of Russi Mountain Works, is launching a second company, Sherpani, focused entirely on building backcountry and urban packs for women. "We decided that if we were going to be a leader in the women's market, we had to be a women's-specific brand run by women, more

Lamar leaves Nautilus, changing of guard continues

In a sudden move that took some by surprise, Kevin Lamar resigned from The Nautilus Group last week, leaving the company with no current senior management members who went through the acquisitions and early integration of Schwinn and StairMaster, as well as the fits and sputters more

Did you hear?... Lafuma hires Rand Whitney and James Samuel

Lafuma America has hired Rand Whitney (former vice president of Sales for Lowe Alpine) and James Samuel (former international sales manager for Schwinn Cycle and fitness) to round out the North American management team. In April, Lafuma had appointed as managing director Ed more

Leavitt blinks before leaving -- now what?

Gov. Mike Leavitt, in one of his final actions as governor of Utah before he resigned to become head of the EPA, blinked under the bright lights of increasing public scrutiny and sent a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management formally opposing 15 new gas wells proposed for more

Did you hear?... David Hadden joins Malone Auto Racks after leaving Heritage

David Hadden, on the heels of resigning his position of vice president of sales and marketing for Heritage Kayaks (soon to be officially known as Legacy Paddlesports), has joined Malone Auto Racks in a newly-created position -- director of sales and marketing. Hadden has been a more

Thierfelder leaves York presidency, Huyck takes on role

Following his heart and "divine providence," William Thierfelder will leave the president's post at York Barbell Company as of July 2 and become president of a small Catholic liberal arts college in North Carolina. Not that Thierfelder was looking for a switch after only two more