New Outdoor Retailer Exhibitors: Amfit, Mio Global and The American Mountain Co.

About 250 brands were new to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013. We take a look at a couple that caught our eye at the show.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show July 31 – Aug. 3. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

About 250 brands were new to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013. We take a look at a couple that caught our eye at the show.

>> Amfit / www.amfit.com / Arjen Sundman, president / Vancouver, Wash.

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Arjen Sundman on Amfit: “Amfit has elevated the process of creating custom foot orthotics in the digital age through innovative, user-friendly equipment and software. By offering cutting edge orthotic software and fabrication technology, we have become the world’s premier provider of computerized custom foot orthotic equipment, products, and services. Amfit systems are field proven with installations in a wide range of facilities worldwide serving patients with foot concerns ranging from diabetes to professional athletes looking for an edge. Using the technical expertise gained from producing millions of custom foot orthotics, Amfit is launching a new line of aftermarket insoles. Amfit Precise Insoles offer a supportive molded composite shell, 24 sizes across three arch heights two heel widths and eight lengths and a multi density cushioned top cover.”

Tell us about your brands and products. 
Amfit was originally focused on the running market in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. The medical market found us in the mid ‘80s and we’ve spent the last 25 years literally helping practitioners and other to get people back on their feet.

What were you doing before this? 
I was brought in by the founder of the company 20 years ago as an engineer to work on the contact digitizer. My background and training is in mechanical engineering. Before Amfit, I worked in high tech in Silicon Valley.

Where did your inspiration come from? 
My passion is figuring out better ways to do things and coming up with solutions to complex problems. At this point I have 12 patents and several more pending. For the Precise Insole, we knew we could offer the consumer a much better fit and support that they are getting from existing product. It was a matter of applying what we know from our custom orthotics practice and engineering the solution.

What’s the one best feature of your product?
It fits, it supports and it cushions (oops, that’s three!).

What has been your biggest challenge? 
Our biggest challenge with the Precise Insole was narrowing down the number of sizes we offered. We had to balance providing twice the number of SKUs for an even better fit against the realities of retail.

Who do you look up to in the industry?
Any of the companies that have brought a new solution to a tired category and completely upended the existing conventions.

>> Mio Global / www.mioglobal.com/alpha / Liz Dickinson, founder & CEO / Vancouver, B.C., Canada

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Liz Dickinson on Mio Global: “We created the world’s first strapless heart rate monitor sports watch, the Mio Alpha. Our newest watch provides EKG-accurate, continuous heart rate monitoring at running speeds up to 14 mph. It uses photoplesmographic technology — a fancy word for shining LED lights on your skin and then measuring the reflected light to calculate blood flow volume in your wrist and, by proxy, your heart rate. Prior to the Mio Alpha, heart rate monitoring systems required people to wear an uncomfortable chest strap, moisten it with gel or water, and transmit the heart rate reading to a complicated wristwatch. The straps chafed skin, restricted breathing, slid all over the place, and provided inconsistent readings. Now, professional and recreational athletes can get real-time heart rate data in a comfortable, easy-to-use watch and even transmit it to their favorite iPhone fitness apps via Bluetooth for fast analytics and social sharing.”

Tell us about your brands and products. 
We strive to bring the latest in innovative technology to both professional and recreational fitness and sports enthusiasts with streamlined design that makes heart rate monitoring easy. Our products have been built, tested and used by corporate team members who are athletes themselves. For instance, Mike Rouse, our national sales manager, has completed 245 marathons, 60 50-mile races, 17 100-mile races, six 24-hour runs, 10 Ironman competitions; and six Ultraman World Championships. He might be on the extreme end, but at the end of the day, Mio is a brand created by people who are passionate about fitness and the active lifestyle. The first heart rate monitor watch was introduced in 1977, and it hadn’t changed much until we rolled out the Mio line. Over the years, we have developed a wide variety of heart rate monitors and pedometers tailored for different needs.

What were you doing before this? 
I was a vice president in business development at a technology company owned by IBM and Telus.

Where did your inspiration come from? 
I was in the tech industry and I had always wanted to marry that with sport and fitness training. So, I brought my passion for technology to an industry that didn’t offer a lot of user-friendly alternatives for training the most effective way: with the heart. As a full-time mother of three and full-time businesswoman, I wanted a training solution that would let me workout as efficiently as possible, so I brought together a team that could make it happen.

What’s the one best feature of your product? 
The best feature of the Mio Alpha is knowledge. You can hop on scale, you can measure your body fat or you can time your 1-mile run, but there’s nothing like seeing your heart’s performance in real-time. When we put the Mio Alpha on people’s wrists, they look at the number and ask, “Is that good?” Suddenly, they’re motivated to understand the numbers, learn about heart rate training and bring it into their training arsenal. Bottom line, the best part of our products is that they motivate people to set and achieve fitness goals.

What has been your biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenge was to make the technology accurate under intense conditions. Hockey players, trail runners and mountain bikers, for instance, need an heart rate monitor that can take a serious jarring. That’s where the Mio Alpha excels. Just ask Cody Hodgson, center for the Buffalo Sabres.

Who do you look up to in the industry? 
I look up to Adidas, because they constantly push the envelope with cutting-edge technology and design in their sports products. Their latest Boost running shoes are an example of a true innovation in the construction material for running shoes.

Who do you want to compete against in the industry? 
We compete with Polar, Garmin and the other companies that sell chest-strap heart rate monitors.

>> The American Mountain Co. / www.americanmountain.com / Chad Caudill, owner & vice-president Hudsonville, Mich.

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Tell us about your brands and products. 
The mountains have a unique way of testing your resilience. The cliffs and cold push you to your physical and mental limits. Your emotions will play endless games with your pursuit of the summit. Few will ever be able to comprehend what these moments are like; what that climb was like. Few will understand the feeling of gravity and fear pulling you down, while your passion and determination push you higher. It is for these moments, these experiences, that our mountain wear is designed. Driven by a desire to make products with fortitude and inspired by our passion for the experiences only found in the mountains, we are determined to make mountain wear reminiscent of a time when climbing was in its purest form and excellence was found in all aspects of a product. Performance and quality were as important as style and design, with none taking second place. The most advanced technology combined with our classic style makes The American Mountain Co.’s products unwavering in all aspects.

What were you doing before this? 
Brad Sawdon (president and co-owner), a fanatical climber, was trapped behind a desk working as a finance professional; Chad Caudill (vice president and co-owner), an obsessive backcountry skier and snowboarder, was working in ecommerce for a multi-channel retailer in the outdoor industry

Where did your inspiration come from? 
Driven by a desire to make products with fortitude and inspired by our passion for the experiences only found in the mountains, we are determined to make mountain wear reminiscent of a time when climbing and mountain sports were in there purest form and excellence was found in all aspects of a product. Performance and quality were as important as style and design, with none taking second place.

What’s the one best feature of your product? 
We offer several products, each with numerous features. If we had to pick one, guaranteed for life positively affects everyone that purchases our product, from retailers to consumers.

What has been your biggest challenge?
Finding a hotel for OR was especially difficult, but in reality everything is a challenge. That is what makes it fun. It is like climbing, going straight up is a challenge, but that’s part of the fun.

Who do you look up to in the industry?
Arc’teryx — they make a good product and have a unique style. But, for us it is not a style we identify with. We have great respect for all the brands at the show. That is not meant to sound politically correct. If you are an established brand, at some point you were right where we are today and you have to look up to them given the challenges and sacrifices necessary to achieve that level of success. Conversely, if you are a new brand, you have to respect their willingness to take the necessary risks to create a brand that is meaningful.

Who do you want to compete against in the industry?
As a result of our superior fit, rigorous testing, the use of the most advanced technical fabrics and accessories available today and the quality with which each piece is constructed, we are confident that our products can compete with any brand.

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