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Honey Stinger gets final nod for HQ relocation

Smartwool's move-out date extended to summer 2020

Steamboat-based energy snack company Honey Stinger started a program this week to provide free care packages to local residents impacted by COVID-19.
Courtesy photo/Honey Stinger

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Following unanimous approval from Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, a local energy snack company has surpassed all of the steps necessary to relocate and expand its headquarters. 

Honey Stinger, which makes a range of organic sports nutrition products, received approval to lease the terminal building of the city-owned Steamboat Springs Airport. 

All that remains now is for the current tenant, Smartwool, to move out of the space. Its lease with the city allows the company to terminate the lease with 30 days notice.

The local clothing company has leased the space, measuring about 17,800 square feet, since 2002. Smartwool’s parent company, VF Corp., announced plans last year to relocate its outdoor brands, including Smartwool, The North Face and Jansport to Denver. Originally, that move was slated for February 2020, but the date has since drifted further out.

During City Council’s first reading of the ordinance earlier in the month, council member Lisel Petis expressed a concern that Smartwool would waffle on its plans to move, souring the deal. 

On Tuesday, City Council member Kathi Meyer pressed City Manager Gary Suiter on whether Smartwool had committed to a specific move-out date. 

Suiter, who spoke last week with the company’s Chief Executive Officer Jennifer McLaren, said he now expects Smartwool to leave by mid-June. 

“She made it clear that was not their official notice, that they would still submit written notice of termination for the lease,” Suiter said.

Maggie Meisinger, public relations manager for Smartwool, confirmed on Wednesday the company still plans to vacate the building by mid-June. She said the reasons for the extended move-out date are twofold. The new Denver office is still in the process of preparing for the three brands to move in, and the summer transition allows families with children to finish the school year before moving.

“As we know, that transition can be hard in the middle of the year for families,” Meisinger said. 

In total, 19 Steamboat employees will make the move to Denver, she said. 

The later move-out date is not a concern to Honey Stinger Chief Executive Officer Mike Keown, who took over the company in November. He has expressed a desire to enter into a five-year lease with the city before the end of 2020. 

“We are excited the council has allowed us to move forward,” Keown said. “We are excited to move however the timing works out.”

The monthly rent rate for the building would remain unchanged in the transition, according to city documents. Currently, Smartwool rents the building for $18,527.25 per month, with an annual escalation capped at 3%. 

The lease approval comes amid expansions for Honey Stinger, such as the addition of several sponsorships, including the TCS New York City Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon. During a conversation earlier in the month, Keown said his company has plans to release a new line of products in the first half of 2020, but he was not ready to release details.

He also said Honey Stinger would hire five new employees in the next 90 days, with plans to further grow its staff in the near future. Throughout all of this, Keown has voiced a commitment to keep the company in Steamboat. 

To reach Derek Maiolo, call 970-871-4247, email dmaiolo@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @derek_maiolo.


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