September 1, 2010

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An Outdoor Venture

Utah’s Own Expands to Include Outdoor Product Manufacturers

Gaylen Webb

September 1, 2010

When Steve Henich, president of Utah-based Flat Attack Sealant Company, went to Colorado to market his tire sealant, he hit what seemed like a brick wall with some local outdoor products distributors and businesses in the Centennial State.

“I was amazed at how loyal people were to the ‘buy local’ philosophy there,” Henich says, “and I thought we needed that kind of loyalty in Utah.”

The brand loyalty he experienced led Henich to inquire about Utah’s buy-local program and how he could put the Utah’s Own brand on his tire sealant product, which his family-owned business manufactures in Murray. What Henich found is an initiative currently underway to expand the Utah’s Own program beyond food and agriculture products into outdoor products and eventually others manufactured in the Beehive State.

“We feel that since we have some momentum with the Utah's Own program already in place, we should expand from food and agriculture into other areas,” says Richard Sparks, deputy director of the marketing and development division for Utah’s Own. “We want to expand in an orderly fashion, and in working with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development Utah’s outdoor industry appeared to be the right size to include in Utah’s Own without overwhelming the program.”        

Utah’s Own Expands Reach
Including Utah-owned and operated outdoor product manufacturers such as Flat Attack in the Utah’s Own program is actually the beginning of a carefully planned expansion of the brand being coordinated by Utah’s Own and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to include many other industries.

“We don’t intend for the Utah’s Own brand to be limited to only a few industries, but the outdoor products industry is just the right size for the transition, to see if we can help Utah’s outdoor product manufacturers enhance the sales of their products in the state before we expand into other industries,” Sparks says.

Riley Cutler, director of the outdoor products cluster in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), also sees great potential for leveraging the Utah’s Own brand for many Utah-made outdoor products. Consequently, Cutler and Sparks are working closely to facilitate the expansion of Utah’s Own by marketing the program to outdoor product manufacturers and by training local business resource centers throughout the state.

While Flat Attack Sealant Company was the first outdoor product manufacturer in Utah to join the Utah’s Own program, it is hoped many others will join as well. There are between 60 and 70 outdoor product manufacturers in the state, according to Cutler, but not all of them will qualify for the Utah’s Own program.

“To qualify for participation in the Utah’s Own program, an outdoor products manufacturer must be owned and operated in Utah, and its products must be made in Utah as well,” he says.

For example, Cutler points out that Petzl is a valuable outdoor products company in the state, with its North American distribution here and some product manufacturing in Clearfield; however, company ownership is in France. Thus, it does not qualify for the program, he says.

GOED and Utah’s Own are currently working to identify Utah-owned and operated outdoor manufacturers that may qualify for the program. The plan is to personally invite as many as they can to join Utah’s Own.

In conjunction with the expansion initiative, Utah’s Own officials recently held a roundtable discussion to explore ways Utah’s Own can better help program participants. The raison d'etre for the program is to help build the Utah economy, and these roundtables provide valuable direction. This most recent roundtable included members of the food, agriculture and outdoor products industries as well as Spencer Eccles, executive director of GOED.

Global Reach, Local Following
While building loyalty among Utah consumers by adding the Utah’s Own brand to outdoor products made in the Beehive State is an enticing prospect and doesn’t appear to have any down sides—especially since the program is free—the logistics of participation can be a bit complicated for multinational outdoor product manufacturers like Easton Mountain Products, a startup division of Easton Technical Products. Nonetheless, Sales Manager Michael Beverly says the company is on the verge of joining the Utah’s Own program.

“The Utah market is incredibly important to us. It’s in our backyard and a huge selling point for us,” says Beverly. “We know Utah consumers appreciate Utah-made products. Our only challenge is in the logistics of how we apply the Utah’s Own brand to our products for the local market.”

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