Confirming what had been announced to the staff and communicated to the company reps on Wednesday of this week, Sierra Designs released a press announcement today stating the company was moving to Boulder, Colo., this summer. SD has been in the Berkeley, Calif., area since 1965.
All sales, product development, marketing and operational functions will move from Emeryville to Boulder. SD warranty is moving to St. George, Utah, where the warehouse is based.
As a result of the move, current president Sally McCoy will be leaving the company, though she confirmed to SNEWS that she would be staying with Sierra Designs through the move and possibly longer if Sierra Designs needed her.
Once the move is complete, with a tentative move-in date of June 1 on the books, current vice president and general manager, Mark Herbert, will become company president. Herbert joined SD in early October 2002, coming from Hind where he was vice president of sales.
Various sources close to the company confirmed that a number of key staff, including Ted Ganio, Kelley McGrath, Cammy Harris and Trudy Hutton, will not be making the move to Colorado for family or personal reasons.
Sierra Designs cited operational efficiencies and a lower cost of living for its employees as the primary reasons for the relocation. Moving packages and exit packages for those who decide not to move -- and the company has made it very clear it wants to keep everyone -- are very strong and fair according to several insiders.
SNEWS View: While the move might come as a surprise to some folk, SNEWS knows the company has considered such a shift for a number of years now. The recent decision to move now though is likely influenced by declining sales for Kellwood's Recreation Product's unit, which dipped 11 percent or $22 million compared to last year. Kellwood -- www.kellwood.com -- cites a very weak specialty store market as the cause for the decline. Kellwood owns Kelty, Sierra Designs, Slumberjack and Wenzel -- so a claim of a dip because of weak specialty store sales appears to shine the hot light directly on Kelty and SD. Though the cost of losing the key staff will be high (tough to replace McCoy, Ganio, McGrath, Harris and Hutton), the cost savings that will be realized are significant. Boulder is currently experiencing a very challenging business rental environment, so incentives and rents are at the best one could hope for right now. Insurance costs and other business expenses are lower as well -- by a significant amount. Too, the move makes it easier for employees to purchase homes, and that will make it even easier to attract and retain good staff. And, let's not overlook the Boulder, Colo., cachet for an outdoor company. Saying you're based in Boulder has a bit more outdoor and mountain authenticity to it than, say, Berkeley? As for the McCoy, Ganio, McGrath, Harris and Hutton team -- sounds like a legal firm -- they won't remain on the market long, that is for sure. Watching the feeding frenzy over who gets to acquire who should be fun.