Monday, May 30, 2005

Life Link embraces snowboarding pros

With more and more snowboarders venturing into the backcountry for the coveted booter session, I've wondered why it is that the majority of the ones I've seen are without avie gear. Sure it's costly, but how much is your life worth? I'm glad to see one avalanche safety company taking a step in that direction - embracing snowboarding with avalanche gear awareness through a team sponsorship.

Life Link has recently signed some high profile snowboard athletes in an effort to (aside from the obvious of selling more stuff) influence more snowboarders who travel into the backcountry to carry safety gear.

The Full Story


Friday, May 27, 2005

Amer Sports cancels secondary stock listing

Amer Sports, the Finish outdoor sports conglomerate and soon to be proud parent company of Salomon, quietly requested a cancellation of the secondary listing on it's fully paid-up ordinary shares at the UK Market. Cold feet? Did they find a stash of money in their sauna last night?

Things that make you go hmmmmm.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Keen Footwear takes giant step forward

Companies within the Outdoor Industry that are 2 years old are typically consumed by thoughts of growth and expansion. Who am I kidding? The reality is that most of them are just hoping to hang on and survive, such that thoughts of donating large sums of money to non-profit organizations are generally just that - thoughts. At Keen Footwear, they've moved from thinking to acting, announcing this week the formation of the Keen Footwear Foundation and the commitment of $1 million to npo's that are important to the company and its employees. Nice work Keen - live long and prosper.

The Full Story

These thoughts from Keen CEO Angel Martinez: "When we were young adults, we always said that when it was our turn to be in charge, we’d do things differently than previous generations. We will be more responsible citizens of the planet, more tolerant of other cultures and ideas, and will exercise our power as individuals. Even though Keen is still in its infancy as a footwear company, it’s never too soon to step exactly in the direction of the future we want to build."


Monday, May 23, 2005

The industry is growing...are you?

The National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) took a deep look into its crystal ball this past week and for the 2005 year end it's forecasting a 2% growth industry wide bumping total sales to $50 billion. With the industry reaching a new sales benchmark, this should mean that more people are out biking, hiking, camping, fishing, climbing and generally becoming more fit and pushing their limits in all aspects outdoors.

It begs the question; When was the last time you pushed yourself to new heights? Here's the deal, all that gear you bought will do you no good if you don't get out off that leather computer chair, throw a pack on your back and get committed to some kind of adventure. Kick the "busy" this summer and get kicking some butt, your own.

The Numbers


Is Gramicci going out of business or what?

You may have noticed the Gramicci booth at OR shrinking every year. Or maybe not because you couldn't actually find them at OR at all. We'll we just got word that Gramicci has fired all their reps. The guy has only been our rep for 5 months. I think this may be yet another sign that the company is going down. My bet is they are going out of business and won't be anywhere at OR this year.


Friday, May 20, 2005

Rumors on Watermark/Confluence

Rumors are this:
Confluence paid $15 million for Watermark. Watermark bought Dagger for $45 million 6 years. Somones job at Watermark, Jim Clark CEO, was to lose money so they had write offs for the parent company of Watermark Crescent Capital. Crescent Capital is owned by the Bank of Islam in Bahrain. They own a ton of stuff and just bought Chuck's Chicken in Texas for $400 million. They own a ton of other stuff.

Tell me those are not some great rumors.


Watermark and Confluence: Run to the Hills?

Well it may have just started. Doug Khall and parnters have just resigned from Watermark. They couldn't get an answer from Confluence on where they fit into it all. What does this mean to us? I have no idea but we are calling Confluence to find out what it means. Yes we are nervous about Confluene's position regarding internet sales. We have built up a strong program with Watermark. I hate to say it but we have to wait and see.


Youth buying power flexing its muscle

Have you noticed how many kids are hanging out at skate parks these days? If you haven't, I officially invite you to take notice. The youth movement is in full swing and companies like Zumiez is reaping the benefits. Zumiez, who targets 14-24 year old demographic with action sports fashion, recently posted a Q1 increase in sales of 34% when compared to Q1 last year. That's strength.

To top it off, Zumiez launched an IPO earlier this month selling 3 million shares above the estimated $15. Wall Street liked what they saw with shares closing at $24.87 by the days end.

The Financial Story


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Werner awarded

On April 19th, 2005 Werner Paddles was officially awarded US Patent 6881111 for their Adjustable Ferrule System.

Werner Paddles Adjustable Ferrule System changes feather angles from 0 to 90 degrees, left or right, in 15 degree increments. The design is light weight, elegant, and most importantly, easy to use. To change angles you simply pull, twist, and push back together. Also unique to Werner’s design is an internal molded system that does not require extra tools to change angles and is protected from potential damage and wear.


Snowboarding blowing my mind, again

Just when the edge of snowboarding and action sports limits seemed within reach of mortals, Mads Johnson has pushed it a little farther from our fingertips, 187 feet away to be precise. On May 9 2005, on a specially built table top in Norway, Mads set a distance world record in cleanly nailing multiple take offs including a super stylie slow rotation 360 landed clean. Mads, our beanie's off to you bro. Thanks for the stoke.

The Full Story - with photos


Monday, May 16, 2005

Head takes a kick to the...head

Head took a beating this last quarter, down nearly 9% in total revenue. Skis and bindings declined 3.9%. Wall Street didn't like the news and responded with a nearly 10% drop in stock price. Hmmm, a correlation?

The Financial Carnage

Head makes some of the best skis I've skied but they just can't seem to let anyone know about it or figure out their market, dabbling in park/pipe, big mountain, race and recreational categories. They are likely the most under marketed yet best ski money can buy.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Support for Christian and Dena - astounding!

With just one week until the Christian and Dena Gennerman fundraiser, the crew continues to log in the massive amounts of gear that is showing up at the HQ. The support has been unbelievable but it only reflects the type of individuals that Dena and Christian are. Thank you!

It's like running a business to keep up with the flood of support from the outdoor industry. Pamela and Lauren, friends of Dena, have been going way over the top to make this happen.

Yep, skis and snowboards too.


Donations for Christian and Dena

Thank you to everyone for all the donations, they keep coming in! Our UPS guy is getting pissed by all the extra boxes but we keep reminding him that this is his donation. He'll get over it- keep sending the stuff. Please keep posting on the site, it's really helping out Christian. For updates on Dena.


Pictures to come........


whoa not so fast, coldsmoke!

Confluence has just purchased Watermark's water division, not Yakima et al.....see Confluence's press release below.


Trinity, NC, May 12, 2005 – Confluence Holdings Corp. (“Confluence”) announced today that a purchase agreement has been signed under which Confluence will acquire the water sports division’s assets of WaterMark Paddlesports Inc. (“WaterMark”), including WaterMark’s paddlesports brands, the WaterMark name and WaterMark’s assets in Easley, SC. The agreement does not include WaterMark’s land sports division. Industry veteran Richard Feehan has been named CEO of Confluence. The transaction is expected to close Monday, May 16th, 2005.


Watermark bought by Confluence

Just down the pipe! The Watermark Corporation has been purchased by watersports magnate Confluence. Confluence currently owns such companies as Wilderness Systems, Wave Sport, Voyageur, and Mad River Canes. The addition of Watermark will add companies Yakima, Camelbak, Dagger, Perception, and Harmony to their Portfolio. The purchase is to go into effect May 17th. More info to follow on this one..


LL Bean sightings in the west...coming soon

Just when I figured I was the only guy sporting an LL Bean jacket in the Utah backcountry, LL Bean announces that they inked a deal with American Skiing Company to become the official outerwear of all resorts owned by ASC, including two in the west: Steamboat and The Canyons. Yes, this means that LL Bean sightings will now become commonplace in Park City, Utah and Steamboat, Colorado. Now I won't feel so lonely wearing my LL Bean jacket when I ski The Canyons next year.

The Full Story

LL Bean VP Greg Houser says that they met with top instructors, lifties and patrollers to design outerwear for all on-mountain employees with features like built-in neoprene lumbar pads. I'm wondering if they spoke with The Canyons patrol, notoriously rebellious when it comes to dropping their coveted Patagonia jackets to don the flavor, er brand, of the year. Stay tuned to see how this one plays out.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Tony Hawk + department store = brand implosion?

Tony Hawk, my boyhood skateboard idol, is teaming up with Kohl's department stores in an exclusive partnership which will allow Kohl's to source, manage and retail a new line of Hawk clothing that Quiksilver will design.

In the short term this will likely increase sales of Hawk clothing which is exactly the kind of results that Wall Street wants to see from two publicly traded companies, but in the long term my man Tony may be dabbling in mainstream muck. I'm sure they'll design some cool clothing but a dept store as an exclusive distributor? Although I'm skeptical and my gut tells me otherwise, I'm going to give Tony the benefit of the doubt on this move. We'll see if he lands this trick.

The Full Story


Monday, May 09, 2005

Orage Masters delivers

A couple of us here at were privileged enough to head off to Mammoth this past weekend to check out the Orage Masters. With 10" of pow the day before, Saturday dawned bluebird and warm enough down low to enjoy the comp in style but chilly enough up top that I managed to find some untracked pow. The features for the park were cut and prepped to perfection by the Mammoth Unbound crew. Once the comp was underway, an all out aerial assault ensued.

Team Dynastar (reportedly pronounced Di-nO-star) cleaned up taking home the goodies. Most impressive to me was Matt Sturbenz who came out firing on all pistons and absolutely crushed the vertical box, nearly reaching the top.

Matt Harvey photo from Freeskier

Freeskier Magazine coverage and photos

On a side note, if you ever have the chance to go to Mammoth, do not hesitate. The mountain is huge and the park - well the park is hands down the best I've ever seen. As a fellow BC employee stated, "Two perfectly cut pipes within 30 yards of each other with clean hits everywhere in sight, it doesn't get any better than Mammoth"


K2 moves distribution to Reno

The greatest little city in the world, Reno, will soon be home to another distribution center refugee in K2 owned Marker, Ex Officio, Dana Designs and Marmot. Products for these brands will ship from Reno effective spring 2006. K2 sited a need to upgrade distribution methods, being close to the Tahoe area for recreation and the cheaper facitily costs as key reasons for the move.

The Full Story

After passing through Reno this weekend, I offer the "real" reasons for the move:

1. Video poker at 7-11 when you stop to get gas and coffee.
2. Nevada tax benefits anyone?
3. In-N-Out Burger - I'll take a #1 with onions and a chocolate shake - to go.


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Backcountry embraces it's own's first employee and head buyer, Christian Gennerman, is currently in Egypt with his wife Dena Gennerman, who was traveling with family and involved in a serious car accident. Our love and support goes out to him and his family.

Anyone who know's Christian, knows of his love of life and love of the industry. His energy and dedication is contagious and is going to help Dena recover. Dena is such a strong, healthy, beautiful mother, friend and wife. We know together they are strong enough to make it through this time. It won't be easy, but the more support and positive vibes we can all generate together the better.

The community has pulled together for the Gennerman family and the support has been huge. They have set up a fund to take donations for the family and there will also be an event at Club Suede in Park City in a couple of weeks . We will be holding an silent auction at the event and welcome any product donations. Please ship the product to our headquarters in Park City.

Christian is posting updates on Dena and her recovery on the following site:

They hope to leave Egypt on Thursday or Friday by Medivac. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers- SEND POSITIVE VIBES! We love you Christian, Dena and Caden.

-Backcountry Crew


Volcom hits "the street"

Volcom has filed for an IPO that they hope will raise upwards of $86M and in so doing joins the surfing worlds brotherhood of publicly traded companies with the likes of Quiksilver and Billabong. How is this possible for a company whose motto is "Youth Against Establishment"?
Volcom's story is pretty much like any other company traded on Wall Street, right? A recap: You and a buddy are surfers, you want to make mad cash so you decide to print some tee shirts in your garage, you sell them to friends, you keep surfing and expand by selling hoodies, surf some more all the while keep preaching to the core of youth that won't conform and then kapow! 14 years later you’re raking in over $100 M in revenue each year so you decide to go public and cash in - so you can keep surfing. Well, you get the picture. Keeping true and living a bit on the edge has been Volcom's mantra and it's paying off, big-time.

The Financial Story


Monday, May 02, 2005

Thule aquires Sportworks Quick-load bike rack line

Rack giant Thule has recently aquired the Sportworks quick-load bike rack line. Sportworks has been the recognized leader in the category of platform style hitch carrier. With considerable innovation and development in their corner, Thule is sure to soar with this acquision! The latest product, the Transformer T 2, raises the bar in ease of use and performance. Another recent winner, the insta Gater truck mount is still receiving praise throughout the outdoor community. Starting on May 9th, sportworks will now be distributed through Thule's two distribution centers in Seymour, Ct. and Denver, Co. Keep your eyes on one of the leaders in the car rack industry.


The marriage is over - thanks for the memories

Just like classic daytime drama, the rumors are true - Salomon and Adidas are splitting up citing "artistic differences" in the upper managements. Amer Sports, the Finnish owners of Atomic skis and Suunto, are swooping in to pay a paltry 485 million Euros. The market is responding positively today as Adidas shares are on the rise with some financial analysts calling it a "good move" for Adidas. Is it a good move for the outdoor industry? There will soon be an office move in the future of my Portland Salomon homies, likely by September.

One question remains for skiers - Will this bring Atomic's Austrian know how to the now Chinese made Salomon or will Amer just ship Atomic's manufacturing to Shanghai?

Financial Story