OIA's Audio Outdoorist

Dig deep into the issues facing outdoor brands and retailers, from domestic vs. international manufacturing to brick-and-mortar vs. online commerce. Conversations with CEOs, VPs, supply chain reps, retail clerks, marketing gurus and an occasional celebrity outdoorist offer valuable insights and entertainment about the business of playing outdoors.
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OIA's Audio Outdoorist




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Nov 22, 2016

This is the first in a series of quarterly updates from OIA's Executive Director, Amy Roberts. Amy speaks to our members about OIA's 3 pillars (policy, participation, sustainable business), how the election results will impact the industry, a change in trade show cycle, and the transforming retail environment.

Nov 16, 2016

“The outdoor recreation industry enjoys bipartisan support and OIA excels at working with both parties. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize the power and longevity of the outdoor recreation economy. We look forward to working with President Trump and his team to communicate that message and get to work on the many issues facing our industry.” —Amy Roberts, Executive Director of Outdoor Industry Association

In this episode, we speak with Alex Boian, Cailin O'Brien-Feeney, Rich Harper, and Jessica Wahl from OIA's Government Affairs team. How will a Trump presidency impact the outdoor rec economy, our public lands, and international trade? What newly elected members of congress are champions of the outdoor industry? What state- and local-level policy has us most excited? Listen to our 2016 Election Analysis to find out. 

Oct 24, 2016
There’s more to setting up an insurance plan than getting property and theft protection for your store. For example, shops have to protect themselves from liability when renting ski or bike equipment. What insurance do you need when hosting an event? What about when you ask an employee to participate in an outdoor activity where he/she could get hurt? 
In this episode, we speak with Rob Martin, director of Outdoor Sports Insurance (a program from Horizon Agency, an OIA vendor partner). Rob will comment on the unique insurance needs of outdoor retailers and give advice on how they can best protect themselves. Joe Butler of Black Creek Outfitters and Bob Wade of Ute Mountaineer also chime in with their experiences.
Relevant links:
Rob Martin: (952) 914-7165,
Outdoor Sports Insurance -
Ute Mountaineer -
Black Creek Outfitters -
Jul 29, 2016
For any small retail business, finding, interviewing and hiring good employees can be a challenge. For specialty outdoor retail, it can be even trickier because you want/need to find employees who are not only capable of the work tasks but who also exude passion and authenticity for outdoor products and activities and who reflect your store’s vibe. We often remark that great outdoor shops are convivial, communal hubs/gathering places. They’re about so much more than the transactions at the register. The personnel in the store and in the backroom are key to maintaining that community.
Show guests include Ponch Membreno of Toad and Co. (, Lori Kleiman of HR Topics (, and Nicole Leinbach Reyhle of Retail Minded (
May 18, 2016

Outdoor specialty retailers are very unique among retail operations because they do so much more than sell products. They offer education and community events, they support recreational programs at local schools and parks, they often interface with local government on issues related to outdoor recreation, and they are general hubs of engagement for outdoorists in a town/city. Community engagement is a huge part of developing a strong reputation and loyal customer base.

This episode focuses on best practices for:

  • Creating unique and impactful community events/programs
  • Partnering with brands/suppliers on in-store or local promotions and events
  • Local advocacy—how retail shops can lead efforts to promote recreation and conversation. Why is it important for shops to be the voice of these efforts in a community?

Show guests

  • Darren Bush, Owner and Chief Paddling Evangelist at Rutabaga Paddlesports
  • John Mead, Owner and President of Adventure 16
  • Deek Heykamp, Owner of Next Adventure
Feb 11, 2016

Darren Josey, North American marketing manager at Polartec, sits down with Audio Outdoorist at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2016. In this interview, Darren discusses how Polartec works with brand clients to produce fabric in the locations where the customer cuts and sews. This reduces shipping costs, shipping times, and currency risk. We also talk to Darren about the "Made in America" movement and how it is the responsibility of both brands and consumers to understand and communicate the message.

Polartec's headquarters are in Lawrence, MA, where they continue to pioneer leading fabric technologies – category defining fabrics – used in the most challenging environments around the globe.

Dec 21, 2015
In this episode of Audio Outdoorist, we talk with Chris Ritchie, manager of PR and communications at Thule. Out of about 2,000 workers worldwide, Thule employs 1,000 in the USA. The benefits of making products in the USA go beyond branding and high-quality production for a hard goods producer. Ritchie says that strategically located factories allow Thule to respond to trends in weather and reduce shipping costs. 
Thule Group is the owner of a collection of brands all related to the outdoors and various types of transportation solutions. It is the market leader in cargo carriers for automobiles and a leading company in the outdoor and bags market. The Thule motto is "Bring your life”.
Dec 7, 2015
We are joined by Neal Caplowe, founder and owner of Sport Science, a "Made in the USA" t-shirt company. It wasn’t always that way - Sport Science originally manufactured shirts in Central America and Asia but decided to move the process to the US to achieve faster turn times and more control. Neal talks about how labor cost is one of the largest variables when considering domestic production. Has he ever considered returning to international production? Listen to find out!
Sport Science was founded in 2004 when Neal Caplowe found himself wanting a versatile performance shirt that wasn’t just for running and training. Using drirelease™ technology, the engineered yarn is made up of 85% synthetic/hydrophobic fibers and 15% natural/hydrophilic fibers. Sport Science products are made in the Carolinas within a 200 mile radius, cutting out nearly 7,850 miles of traveling and all the fuel that goes with it. Sport Science is proud to keep their carbon footprint small, as well as keep jobs in the USA.
Nov 16, 2015

In this episode, we chat with Alex Kutches, the vice president of sales and marketing at Mystery Ranch and Kletterwerks, about the challenges and rewards of producing gear in the U.S. Kutches discusses the impacts of the TPP on domestic gear manufacturers and how his brands have navigated the Berry Amendment. As a heritage brand with strong ties to the U.S. military and strong consumer appeal in  high-fashion channels, Kletterwerks has established its reputation as a premium brand.

In 2012, the Gleason family (owners of Mystery Ranch and formally Dana Designs) re-launched Kletterwerks, a company that was originally started in 1975 by Dana Gleason. Today's line of Kletterwerks packs reflects the style of those built 40 years ago.

Oct 28, 2015

We sit down with Mike Cangi, vice president of United By Blue, to talk about the production of two products made entirely in the USA: the Ultimate American Sock (made of bison wool) and the Ultimate American Jacket (made of bison down). Mike discusses Made in the USA branding, the challenges of domestic manufacturing, and what needs to happen for this patriotic movement to continue.

United By Blue is a lifestyle apparel and accessories brand designed for the urban and outdoor adventurer. Catering to men, women, and children, products include eco centric organic cotton t-shirts, knits, and sweaters along with rugged waxed canvas bags with classic details and artisan jewelry. For every product sold, United By Blue removes 1 pound of trash from oceans and waterways through company organized cleanups.

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