Warsaw visits San Francisco – Day 1 Marmot
[Editor's Note: This post begins a series of articles that will detail the Warsaw Center's week long visit to the San Francisco area. This trip occurs annually for first year students going into spring term. This year Paul was able to set up 11 visits to a broad group of apparel, gaming, team, college, and advertising organizations all related to sport. The end goal of the trip is to give us all a good snapshot of the various areas in sports we could work in and hopefully lay the groundwork for potential internship opportunities this summer. As a collective, we want to thank Paul for his diligent work setting up a great trip that is definitely one of the highlights and differentiating aspects of the Warsaw program. Without further adieu, I will hand it off to Dylan Packebush to detail our first stop - Marmot --Matt Van Wyen]
Due to a quick weekend trip to the Women’s Final Four in Denver, I arrived in Santa Rosa a little after my classmates. At 2:30am to be exact. While I’m glad to say I missed what surely was an exciting 500 mile drive South, I am a little jealous of the extra sleep they got in. Regardless of the lack of sleep, I woke up excited for the day and the start of an amazing week. We meet in the lobby of our hotel bright and early and departed after a quick breakfast.
First stop: Marmot Clothing and Equipment (For those that may have never heard of it, Marmot is a growing company that produces outdoor recreational equipment for all skill levels and uses. Think North Face, Patagonia, Columbia and the like). The organization grew out of what started as a student organization at UC-Santa Cruz called the Marmot Club. Avid outdoorsmen, founders Eric Reynolds and Dave Huntley began designing and creating their own down sleeping bags and other clothing in their dorm rooms as a way to push the envelope of outdoor equipment. Soon after graduation, in 1974, Eric and Dave opened an outdoor store in Grand Junction Colorado with a friend. This paved the way for the company that we know today. Marmot broke into the sleeping bag and tent scene by being the first to introduce Gore-Tex to the world of outdoor recreation. They remained relatively small through the 90s, but were recently funded by an investment firm that will hopefully allow them to compete with the big brands of North Face and Patagonia. Check out a recent commercial for the company, this is in line with their company positioning and marketing strategy of magnifying the fun of the outdoors rather than extreme aspects.
Our tour guides for the day were Tom Fritz, VP of Marketing, and Greg Houser, VP of Design/ Product Development. Tom took us through the history and development of the Marmot, as well as through the facility. I was surprised with how small the space was. Tom did tell us that we would be the last Warsaw class to see the current facility since they are moving to a brand new facility at the end of the month which will be exciting for future classes to see as it sounded top-of-the-line. Stops on the tour included: the office spaces (or Cubical City as Tom called it), the photography studio, the returns and warranties area (Marmot offers a lifetime factory warranty on ALL equipment), and maybe the most interesting part was the down room where they still hand stuff all their sleeping bags as a way to pay homage to their roots in a college dorm room. Filling every Marmot sleeping bag by hand is a key way that they keep the foundation of their brand sacred.
After the tour, Tom took us through some of the business initiatives that Marmot is facing. We covered everything from financing to competing with the major players in the industry to the importance of telling their story. After Tom informed us, Greg took over and walked us through Marmots design strategy. We discussed the importance segmenting their products based on the needs and wants of their consumers and how each design and segment flowed into and overlapped with the others. It was enlightening to see how much went in to the process of designing a jacket. Greg also walked us through the retail and distribution efforts behind the bringing a product to market. My main take away was that Marmot, and other companies, design and create new, flashy equipment as a way to advertise and grab the attention of consumer while knowing that at the end of the day their solid colors and traditional equipment will remain their top sellers.
After a quick lunch and a brief question and answer discussion, we were off to Walnut Creek to meet with the Pac-12 Conference.
I would like to thank Marmot Clothing and Equipment, on behalf of all of Warsaw and the Lundquist College of Business, for taking the time to share the ins-and-outs of their organization with our group.
-Dylan Packebush, Warsaw ‘13