Outdoor University® Makes a Splash in North Carolina.

Inaugural Event Promises a Bright Future with Unique Programs for Outdoor Retailers

Attendees put raingear to the ultimate test at the first Southeastern Outdoor University held April 25-27 in Black Mountain, N.C., but despite the weather, the retail education program secured a bright future in the South with this successful event.

“We all enjoyed our time at Outdoor University and we feel prepared for an excellent season,” remarked Alyson from Highland Hiker in Cashiers, NC.

Held at Camp Rockmont near Asheville, N.C., the Southeastern Outdoor University drew over 90 retail attendees from eight states. Sales reps from 50 companies offered 400 hours of instruction on everything from Nordic trekking poles to tents. Combined with its two upcoming sister events later this month, the three Outdoor University events aspire to reach and influence over 400 specialty retailers representing over 150 stores and 20 states.

Launched in 2000, Outdoor University represents a partnership between manufacturers and retailers designed to better train and educate retail sales associates. Outdoor University hosts unique, experiential outdoor training events that engage retail sales employees, increase product knowledge and experience, increase customer service, and ultimately improve sales.

In January 2006, Outdoor Industry Association acquired the five-year-old Outdoor University program, then expanded it beyond Wisconsin to included events in North Carolina and Massachusetts. (Click here to read the SNEWS® article, "OIA acquires Outdoor University education program.")

Unique to the 2006 OU program are retail training skills seminars led by instructor Tom Richards. Richards, who trains salespeople in many markets, focuses on skills to build confidence to interact with customers and get them to transform from shoppers to buyers.

“The success of our industry depends on all members of the outdoor business community having access to the best education and training possible,” notes Hugelmeyer. ”With the continued support of manufacturers, retailers and reps, Outdoor University will be able to grow to provide national training for retail professionals at all levels and regions.”

New for the Northeast event (May 9-11) is a Timberland Service Project scheduled for the waning hours of Outdoor University. Participants in the project will be rehabbing Camp Becket's trail system. The Timberland Service Project will be held on Thursday, May 11 from 1:00pm to 4:20pm

“Outdoor University gives us a valuable opportunity to provide in-depth and hands-on product training and field trials with retail staff, and help them deliver the best possible service to their customers when it comes to Timberland gear,” said Bruce Gordon, National Sales Director, Timberland Outdoor Performance. “Beyond just product, we think it’s important to join forces and support the communities where we live, work and play.”

Upcoming 2006 Outdoor University Events:

• Southeastern Event - April 25th – 27th, 2006 located at Camp Rockmont in Black Mountain, NC.

• Northeastern Event - May 9th – 11th, 2006 located at Camp Becket in Becket, MA.

• Midwestern Event - May 23rd-25th, 2006 located at Devil’s Lake State Park north of Madison, WI.

To learn more about Outdoor University, visit http://www.outdooruniversity.org or contact Outdoor University Coordinator Ken Barmore at coordinator@outdooruniversity.org or 608.239.0038. Visit http://www.outdoorindustry.org/gallery.php to see event photos