Big Agnes, Honey Stinger secure new headquarters in Steamboat Springs

Scott Franz
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper tries on his new Big Agnes coat during a tour of the Steamboat Springs company's warehouse in 2014.
Matt Stensland

— Big Agnes is going to keep camping out here in Steamboat Springs.

And those boxes of energy bars from Honey Stinger?

Those are staying too.

After a long and tough search, two of Steamboat Springs’ fastest-growing outdoor gear companies have found a new headquarters that will allow them to continue their growth here in the Yampa Valley.

Big Agnes and Honey Stinger announced Tuesday their ownership recently closed on the $1.3 million purchase of a 20,500-square-foot building from Vectra Bank on Resort Drive.

“Both Honey Stinger and Big Agnes were born and bred here in Steamboat, and this move allows us to grow and build the companies,” Big Agnes and Honey Stinger co-founder Bill Gamber said in an email. “We design, develop, test and sell our products locally, and our employees are such an active bunch that we can’t imagine locating our offices anywhere but our hometown.”

The new headquarters, which is next to Three Peaks Grill across the street from Wildhorse Marketplace, will allow the companies to consolidate and house their 60 employees under one roof.

Currently, the company’s employees are scattered in a number of different office spaces throughout town.

For years, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger have searched for a new location.

And after striking out twice over real estate deals with the city of Steamboat Springs, the companies have found another local answer.

Employees will start to move into the new headquarters next month.

BAP employees will remain in their current facilities in town.

The sale will not impact Vectra Bank, which was leasing out the building next to its bank to a number of tenants.

“It was a win-win for both of us,” said Bob Kuusinen, who serves as the president of the Vectra Bank in Steamboat. “We don’t use that building for banking.”

Kuusinen said some tenants who are still in the building will finish out their leases.

“We’re really excited to finish our remodel work and get folks moved in,” Gamber said. “Our search has been time consuming, and we’re glad to have it behind us so we can continue to focus on the future.”

The building was purchased by a separate entity called Stone Pony LLC, which is owned by a group of Big Agnes and Honey Stinger owners.

Business and community leaders immediately praised the move, saying it stands to benefit the city economically and keep one of its signature companies local.

“These companies are a big part of the branding and imaging in this town, and I’m delighted they have found a new location here in Steamboat,” Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Jim Clark said.

City Council President Walter Magill said he appreciated the efforts the companies took to continue their growth here in Steamboat and not follow in the footsteps of some other growing outdoor companies that chose to leave the small towns they grew up in for bigger cities such as Ogden and Grand Junction.

“They are a signature company,” Magill said noting Big Agnes and Honey Stinger regularly put on community events and market Steamboat. “They value their Steamboat heritage, and we value them.”

When BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger publicly announced their desire to move into a new headquarters in Steamboat in 2012, the companies had a combined payroll of about 30 local workers.

Today, they employ 103.

As the search dragged on for years, some community members and business leaders publicly fretted that the companies could be lured away to other cities in Utah that offer business tax breaks and closer access to international airports.

A long search

The search for a new home hasn’t been easy for Big Agnes and Honey Stinger.

On a public outreach tour in 2011, former city manager Jon Roberts noticed the companies were starting to outgrow their office spaces in Steamboat.

Roberts came up with a plan to offer the companies the city’s public safety building on Yampa Street.

The outdoor gear makers came very close in 2013 to buying that building for $2.1 million to use for its headquarters.

The sale was approved by the Steamboat City Council on a first reading in December 2012.

But the council scrapped the transaction after city staff discovered a plan to temporarily house the city’s police force at the Iron Horse Inn had become dramatically more expensive than the city initially expected.

The city also had not yet finalized plans for a new police station, a task that continues today.

BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger made another bid for a city-owned property last year when they offered $1.7 million for the Iron Horse Inn.

The bid also included a $130,000 escrow for public benefits.

The companies’ bid for the Iron Horse drew strong support from Luis Benitez, head of the state’s newly created Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office.

Benitez even traveled to a City Council meeting in Steamboat and stressed the importance of the local outdoor gear manufacturing industry to the local economy.

He said, together, companies in the outdoor industry in Steamboat Springs employ between 3,000 to 7,000 people, depending on the season, and they pay $8 million to $10 million in wages and benefits.

Together, the companies also distribute their products to nearly 100 countries around the globe, he said.

The City Council ultimately passed on the outdoor companies’ bid for the Iron Horse in favor of selling the aging hotel property to Ski Town Commercial for $2.6 million plus a $400,000 public benefit escrow account.

Gamber said the new Resort Drive location will bring many benefits to the company.

“We’ll finally have everyone under one roof so we’ll save a lot of time and energy communicating and not moving materials and people around,” he said.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.