Steamboat’s SmartWool, Big Agnes, Honey Stinger attend retailer show
Salt Lake — It didn’t take 160 calories of Stinger Waffle-goodness to feel the buzz and energy in the outdoor industry last week in Salt Lake City.
Steamboat Springs-based Honey Stinger energy foods company, which soon will start shipping its latest waffle creation, was among the 1,040 exhibitors who packed the Salt Palace Convention Center for the annual Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. The trade show gave companies, including a few Steamboat ones, a chance to take orders and show off their products to the smallest and largest retailers in the world. Products displayed encompassed the entire outdoor industry, from kayaks, hiking and camping gear to waterproof notebooks, bug-repelling bracelets and apparel for humans and their pooches.
“This is where it all happens,” said Bill Gamber, co-owner of Honey Stinger, BAP and Big Agnes, which are headquartered in a little red house on Oak Street in downtown Steamboat.
Chris Tamucci, international sales manager for Big Agnes and Honey Stinger, said the set-up team, which comprised him, Chris Daniels, Craig Rench, Diego Girard and Drew Williams, arrived in Salt Lake City the morning of July 31 driving a suburban with a tow-behind trailer, as well as a U-Haul.
“That day is the super-brutal heavy lifting day in 100-degree Salt Lake City heat,” Tamucci said.
Three days later on Tuesday, the show opened with Big Agnes and Honey Stinger already experiencing strong momentum.
In late April, Honey Stinger announced seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong had become part of the Honey Stinger partnership and a member of the ownership team.
“People knowing that when they come into the meetings helps our brand and helps drive sales,” said Len Zanni, Honey Stinger’s marketing director.
Armstrong uses the products and even shared Honey Stinger’s energy chews with fellow cyclists in the Peloton at this year’s Tour de France.
Armstrong’s image was dominant at the Honey Stinger booth at Outdoor Retailer where the company was handing out samples of its Armstrong-inspired Stinger Waffle, a take on one of Armstrong’s favorite treats popular in Europe. The company’s version is made with organic ingredients, including honey, of course.
“It’s been good momentum with Lance coming on in April,” said Amy Satkiewicz, who works part-time as a sales representative.
Honey Stinger products are available at larger retailers including the Dick’s Sporting Goods chains. Satkiewicz said the company Tuesday had what she called a very encouraging meeting with Sports Authority.
Big Agnes shared a booth at O.R. with BAP, complete with a new steel fixture to display Big Agnes sleeping bags. The company revamped many of its bags to place down feathers in chambers to prevent shifting and flat spots. New ultralight backpacking and family tents also are coming to the market, along with trekking poles. The company showed Backpacker Magazine the line Tuesday morning, Gamber said.
“We’re getting great, great response,” he said. “Everyone is kind of psyched with what Big Agnes has come up with. It’s been a phenomenal year. Best year ever.”
Steamboat’s two merino wool apparel companies, SmartWool and Point6, also attended O.R.
“We’re showing our product like the big boys,” said Peter Duke, the founder of SmartWool, who was bought out of the company and launched Point6 in early 2008.
The company shipped its first socks less than a year ago. Point6 is growing, Duke said, and now has what it considers a complete line of high-quality socks.
SmartWool showed off its spring 2011 line in one of the largest booths, next to its parent company, Timberland.
“The first day, there is so much activity here,” SmartWool President Mark Satkiewicz said. “I’m talking to a new person every two minutes.”
Other companies at O.R. with ties to Steamboat included Mountain Hardwear and BOA Technology.
Mountain Hardwear’s public relations are based out of Steamboat, which meant company co-founder Paige Boucher, the public relations director, was joined by her “PR gals” in a meeting with bloggers and members of print and broadcast media.
BOA Technology was founded in Steamboat and is known best for its wire lacing system originally found on snowboarding boots. The company has expanded throughout the years, and its technology can be found on cycling shoes and in other applications. Forty riders were using the system during this year’s Tour de France, said BOA Marketing Manager Garett Graubins, who was at the show visiting with retailers.
“I like to meet with retailers and hear the feedback they are getting,” he said.
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