By Eric Smith
The space that Adidas Outdoor USA recently took over in the American Mountaineering Center building in Golden, CO, still has that new office smell.
But the Los Angeles-based company’s growing Colorado crew—which now includes the four-person team of Pete Schuster, Loren Morshead, Dan Sherwood and Chad Ovens—is already feeling at home in the new digs as it pursues ambitious growth plans.
SGB visited the company’s Colorado headquarters last week and spoke with Schuster (the director of sales), Morshead (key accounts manager) and Sherwood (e-commerce account manager) about what the addition of this strategic locale means for a company that has already seen skyrocketing growth across its Five Ten and Terrex brands this year.
“We’re close to 100 percent growth for 2018, so we think we’re going to almost double this year,” said Schuster, who heads up Adidas Outdoor USA’s Golden operation. “We’re seeing really rapid growth, and this office is the absolute result of that because as you grow quickly, you can definitely outstrip your ability to service the people that are helping you grow.”
Adidas Outdoor USA is led by Greg Thomsen—an “OG” (original gangsta) in the outdoors world, as Schuster dubbed him. Based in L.A., Thomsen has built the Adidas Outdoor brands in true grassroots fashion with moves that include investing in industry awards banquets at Outdoor Retailer, championing athlete-focused ambassador programs and constantly innovating to meet customers’ evolving product demands.
“Adidas Outdoor isn’t just a big brand trying to get sales,” Schuster said.
The brand’s parent company is Agron Inc., an employee-owned company that is the exclusive license holder for Adidas accessories. Most of Agron’s workforce is based in L.A., while the company also contracts with independent sales reps around the country, but the 2,400-square-foot Colorado office is poised to become the unofficial home for Adidas Outdoor.
For one, it’s close to the Rocky Mountains, where reps can see how products handle dirt and rock on a trail run just out the front door. Being in Colorado also helps recruiting, because, as Schuster said, “If you’re into the outdoors, who wouldn’t want to live here?”
“People in this industry are in this industry for a reason,” Schuster said. “So it’s a nice draw—and it’s a much easier draw—to bring them out here to see our product and have meaningful business and one-on-one meetings, and then taking them hiking or skiing.”
The office is next door to the American Mountaineering Museum, which celebrates many of the adventures that Adidas Outdoor helps fuel, and the building they share even has a theater that will allow the company to host events such as adventure films and inspirational talks.
It’s not too far from the Colorado Convention Center, home of the three annual Outdoor Retailer markets in January, July and November, which Schuster, Morshead and Sherwood said will make the office feel like a home-base for employees and reps coming in from out of state for the shows.
And only a few hours across I-70 and up the Roaring Fork Valley is Aspen, another important location in the Adidas Outdoor world. The company sponsors the Aspen Backcountry Marathon & Half Marathon in collaboration with the city of Aspen, and it is the title footwear sponsor of the Audi Power of Four Trail Run Series, in collaboration with Aspen Skiing Co.
The company has focused on Aspen for a couple of different reasons. Morshead built important relationships there from his time working at The Ute Mountaineer, but it’s also a nexus for the terrain and activities where Adidas Outdoor products are most at home.
“We’ve really invested in Aspen to try to help launch the brand,” Morshead said. “There’s a very diverse community of people that travel there in the summer and winter time that we can touch while they’re there.
“[The Golden office] gives us another hub to work with different organizations within the building to continue to activate and reach new users and consumers in the area,” he added.
The Adidas Outdoor brands of Terrex and Five Ten are certainly reaching new users, in part because of the employee-owned company’s willingness to let those brands flourish organically instead of being held to quarterly profit marks and then cut loose if those goals aren’t met.
“We’ve always focused on the younger outdoor consumer, which doesn’t always relate to immediate sales, but it was more an investment for growing the brand for a long run,” Schuster said. “Those younger consumers we marketed it to are getting older and graduating college. We also build products that are multi-use and a lot of young consumers want to see multiple uses out of one product. They don’t want to have specialized products, from what they tell us. So we fit in pretty well there too.”
Adidas Outdoor might be enjoying double-digit growth so far in 2018, but it isn’t letting up on product innovation across its four disciplines—trail running, climbing, hiking and cycling. The company has an impressive lineup of new products it will debut at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in July, including some collaborations between Five Ten and Adidas.
“The scale and scope of Adidas and the quality of its factories will bring a better product to the consumer,” Schuster said.
And Adidas Outdoor is always looking at what consumers want, ensuring that the company is meeting not only their product demands but their sales demands, as well. This approach makes the Golden office a critical component of the company’s omnichannel future.
“Our industry in general has always been a passionate group of consumers,” Sherwood said. “We just try to walk that fine line of having everybody be as passionate about the brands internally as we know our customers are. Being able to service the different channels in ways that are meaningful to the customers and still staying true to what the brands stand for has been key in our growth and success over the last few years.”