Three weeks after Vasque announced John Connelly was no longer with the company -- click here to read story -- two more key members of the team responsible for the brand's return to innovative respectability have turned in their resignations: Jack Tackle and Mark Day.
Tackle was the design brain behind the technical mountaineering project that brought widespread media and industry attention recently to Vasque for the use of composite materials in the uppers and Stealth rubber in the outsole. He also directed Vasque's marketing efforts behind the mountaineering footwear.
Day, the brand's national sales manager, commanded deep-seated respect from his sales team and also the Vasque management team.
Both Day and Tackle told SNEWS® that they resigned from Vasque for "personal reasons."
Tackle said he was taking some time off to climb as well as to continue with his 20-year summer job as a guide for Exum. Day, whose last day for Vasque is May 31, will be rejoining La Sportiva as that company's national sales manager on June 3 -- Day left La Sportiva shortly after The North Face acquired the company in the '90s.
Rick Appelsies, marketing manager for Vasque, told SNEWS® that, "Over the past 12 months, the Vasque brand has developed a strategic plan focusing on innovation and enhanced function. We are committed to re-energizing our product development efforts and have allocated substantial monies to our R&D budget. Regardless of personnel changes, the Vasque strategy remains on course. We will continue to support and improve our position as an innovative, technical, specialty outdoor footwear brand."
SNEWS® View: Ahh, the infamous "personal reasons" citation. We suspect that there is more to the duo departing than simply personal reasons. "Personal" as in not agreeing with the direction or anticipated direction of the company perhaps. Both Day and Tackle were very high on Vasque in January, telling SNEWS® about new projects they couldn't wait to announce. And now, both suddenly decide just one week apart and on the heels of Connelly's departure, that personally they no longer want to remain working toward something their hearts and souls were so very vested in. Doubtful. What SNEWS® suspects is that the Redwing management team -- which no longer has a personal or emotional vestment from family members who founded the company as a part of the management equation -- is looking at the bottom line more closely than ever. And it may believe that technical outdoor footwear might be a declining category so it is discussing strategy shifts. There is no doubt in our minds that, if true, that same management team is probably discussing the "Merrell/Wolverine" vision as a model to replicate. Who hasn't! Trouble with that plan is that for the model to succeed Vasque will need to develop its own "Moc" success story and, to date, the only really noticeable innovation from the company is in a niche category -- mountaineering footwear -- and that does not spell financial success from volume sales in any form. What are the hot categories in stores right now? Athletically inspired silhouettes and, believe it or not, sandals. Vasque still has some very talented folks on board, and Vasque retains strong brand loyalty among many specialty retailers, but will that be enough to achieve the volume success Redwing management is probably mandating? We'll keep you posted.