July 2, 2012

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Made—and Played With—in Utah

Utah is the Ultimate Testing Ground for Outdoor Products Companies

John Blodgett

July 2, 2012

Easy access also brings outdoor convention goers to Utah in droves. A record number of outdoor industry manufacturers, retailers and suppliers—nearly 21,000—attended the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2012 expo in Salt Lake City in January. Its size is catching up to the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, which attracted 23,000 attendees in August 2011. Held at the Salt Palace Convention Center since 1997, these industry shows have found tremendous success in Salt Lake, which is a short 20 minutes from mountain slopes.

Dowse cites the presence of and proximity to both Outdoor Retailer events as yet another “huge benefit” of doing business in Utah, but stresses perhaps the biggest benefit of all. “We wanted to be closer to our core consumers for insight into skis, footwear and apparel,” he explains. “We’re starting to see the fruits of that effort.”

He says 2011 was the company’s best year since relocating: Atomic and Salomon both had record years in the American market, while huge gains were made in sales of apparel and trail running footwear, the latter benefitting from extensive and rigorous product testing on Ogden’s stretch of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

It’s no surprise, then, that the majority of Amer Sports’ North American product launches are done in Ogden. “No company wants to be where they don’t have retail customers,” says Cutler.

The Powder and the Glory
From both a skier and a business perspective, the 2010/2011 ski season was “phenomenal,” says Nathan Rafferty, President and CEO of Ski Utah and member of the State’s Board of Tourism Development. “It was just dump after dump after dump, a powder skier’s delight,” he says. To top it off it was Utah’s second best season on record at 4.23 million skier days. (The 2007/2008 ski season ranked No. 1 at 4.25 million.)

Tourism by the Numbers
According to preliminary facts and figures compiled by the Utah Office of Tourism, in 2010:

  • Traveler and tourist spending increased by 4.7 percent to $6.525 billion.
  • Direct state and local taxes generated by traveler spending increased by 4.4 percent to $841 million.
  • The number of domestic and international visitors increased by 4.2 percent to 20.2 million.
  • National park visits increased by 1.2 percent to 6 million; state park visits increased by 1.3 percent to 4.8 million.
  • Employment related to travel and recreation increased by 2.2 percent to 122,839 jobs.
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