SGB Executive reached out to a handful of executives in the active lifestyle space to explore what adjustments they’ve made as a result of the pandemic and which ones will likely continue once the crisis subsides.

The exact question was: “What major change did you make to your business during the COVID-19 crisis that you are going to make permanent?”

The following are some of the responses. The second round of replies will be posted on Tuesday, June 23.

Russ Hopcus, President, Prana
“The most obvious shift for Prana, and most other companies, was learning how to work remotely. While the learning curve was steep, it was shortened by our preparedness. We were able to provide quick training on virtual tools that we hadn’t ever needed to deploy. The results have been impressive. Our team is putting out amazing work. For many, it has created a better life balance without the need to spend time commuting plus being able to spend more time with their loved ones. For others, it has been difficult balancing the needs of their family while working. It’s also been a challenge for our product creation team where in-person product review meetings are preferred. Now that we’re in a good rhythm and have a clearer understanding of what work can be done remotely and what is done better together, we see some sort of hybrid scenario playing out. We have yet to determine exactly what that looks like, but it will definitely be different than our pre-COVID, in-office working model.

“We’ve also been forced to alter our go-to-market approach. For Spring 2021 planning, in particular, we had to get creative. With photography not being an option, we created beautiful illustrations for our wholesale workbook. They look outstanding and will most likely be used again in future workbooks. We hosted our first-ever virtual sales meeting. Using the Brand Live platform, we were able to deliver meaningful live content while utilizing pre-recorded product presentations. We’ll explore utilizing this format in the future. Finally, we took the opportunity to evaluate the size of our product range, validate our current priorities, and solidify our long-term product plans. The result is a much more focused and efficient product line.”

Cindy Feinauer, General Manager, Purist Collective
“The COVID-19 crisis was, and is, an unexpected, multi-faceted challenge that, at its core, is requiring us all to put people above profit more than ever before. It reminded us that our brands and businesses are nothing without our people and our communities. It showed us the collective power needed for complex problem solving where we reach out across business lines, share learnings, work, resources, and ideas for the betterment of humanity. Most of us have lost bottom line earnings due to COVID-19, but the people bottom line has grown, the collaborative bottom line has grown. In this crisis environment, empathy has grown, gratitude has grown and more enlightened people leadership and management have been required. Those of us in leadership have found ourselves saying to our teams “take care of yourselves and your family first and foremost”. And I wonder to myself why I have not stated that so clearly and consistently in the past. The question will be for all of us: Can we keep this human perspective and learning as we move forward? I sure hope so. We are all better for it.”

Steven Gray, Chief Growth Officer, Teton Gravity Research
Throughout the 25 years TGR has been in business, we have been at the forefront of digital content uploading videos online since the Company’s founding in 1996. Due to COVID-19, we have adapted our digital strategy to keep the stoke alive during these unique times. We have started to develop our owned and operated OTT application where fans will be able to consume 25 years of award-winning TGR content including 40-plus films totaling over 100-plus hours. Through social media, we have allowed fans to be immersed behind the scenes with our TGR Live series that focuses on introducing, and re-introducing, athletes where fans can interact with questions live. As fans are consuming social media more than ever, we are making an effort to listen. Our e-comm efforts have been evolving, delivering record numbers through our online shop as we continue to listen to fans and find new apparel opportunities.”

Chad North, Founder, North x North
“Becoming a factual resource center for customers during the pandemic (e.g. facemask effectiveness) and selling to government agencies. It took us a while to get set up to sell to them, but incredibly worth it.”

Michael Andersen, Brand Manager, Snow Peak
“The initial COVID-19 outbreak in the United States was a pivotal point for our team. We needed to adjust in order to fulfill our mission of creating restorative gatherings in nature. Obviously, gathering wasn’t feasible and nature wasn’t very accessible. The challenges of the pandemic led us to reimagine the way we create community and engage with our audience. We shifted to a robust schedule of virtual gatherings featuring live cooking demonstrations, nature walks and weekly Takibi Time. In doing so, we were able to engage with hundreds of customers and use our gear in new ways. While this programming will be scaled back as we reopen, we will continue regular live check-ins with our audience and have a renewed focus on video and culinary content that offers creative inspiration for our users whether they’re at home or hitting the trail.”

Adam Bryk, COO and CFO, California Innovations
“As almost all businesses did during the COVID-19 crisis, we had to immediately adapt to a complete Work From Home model at our offices and also a remote sales model as all travel was canceled. We are, however, in no rush to decide what changes may be permanent or not. With COVID-19 still a risk even as our offices are allowed to open, we are choosing to minimize contact and maximize safety for our people. Our focus today is on how we can make Work From Home better for our team so that our people can both work efficiently and maximize their work/life balance. We at CI have been very lucky as while we have been impacted by COVID-19, we have not made any changes to staffing or compensation models and are continuing to focus on the growth of the Arctic Zone and Titan brands. If anything, we see great opportunity in minimizing future business travel and increasing the number of remote sales meetings. This has the triple benefit of increasing the frequency, and we believe even the quality of our customer interactions, reducing the cost of doing business — savings which we can then pass on to our ultimate customers — and most beneficial of all reducing our environmental impact, something that we hope will be a lasting result from this Crisis.”

Illustration courtesy Memoori