Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 11

Courtesy Therm-a-Rest

According to Gleason, as a general policy, the
company assumes production will take longer,
which builds elasticity into its supply chain, letting Mystery Ranch keep its commitments.
" Manufacturing in the U.S. is difficult, " says
Gleason. " There are very high-quality contractors available, and they're generally booked up
months in advance. There's more manufacturing work than people to do it here. And certain
products, like buckles, are hard to come by. If
you're depending on U.S. sourcing and one factory has a problem, you may be S.O.L. "
Cascade Designs can confirm this situation.
When a massive winter storm swept through
Texas, turning out the lights in February,
Cascade's Texas supplier couldn't produce
chemicals for foam, which interrupted
Cascade's sleeping pad production.
" It shows the interconnectivity of supply
chains, " says Sanders. " Being able to be reactive
to market change should be our superpower as
a U.S.-based manufacturer. We have the shortest lead times. We can adapt to a change faster
than anyone else. But it hasn't panned out that
way during COVID-19. "
What went right for Darn Tough was the
company's access to excellent labor, employees
that consider themselves family, two factories
within a 30-minute drive of each other, and
great supply chain relationships. Together,
these factors gave the brand flexibility. Though
it won't be able to deliver all orders while adding equipment and shifts over the coming
months, Darn Tough kept production high
throughout 2020, and it was one of the first
manufacturers to offer dealers special terms
to help them get through tight cash periods.
Blevins acknowledges there was risk involved.
" But it was a great move on our part, " he says.

WHATARE MANUFACTURERS
DOING ABOUT IT?
Cascade Designs is aggressively rebuilding
stock and also talking to retailers and gathering information on how it should pivot to meet
demand. " If we know shops are stocked in
certain mattresses, we can turn down production there, and turn up production somewhere
else, " says Sanders. " We can switch what we're
making tomorrow.
Cascade's 2021 strategy is to amass deep in-

" BECAUSE WE MANUFACTURE OURSELVES, WE'RE
COORDINATING 50 PARTS TO MAKE ONE THING.
IF WE CAN ONLY GET 48 PARTS, WE CAN'T PRODUCE
THE FINISHED GOOD. " -DOUG SANDERS, CASCADE DESIGNS
reservations, and other folks with PPE.
Darn Tough is ramping up more aggressively to keep the momentum going, adding equipment and shifts. " For us, the biggest challenge
was understanding demand, " says Blevins.
" We guessed too low, and we're continuing to
see demand exceeding our expectations for the
foreseeable future. "
PADDED ACCOUNT
Cascade Designs'
Therm-a-Rest pads wait in
a warehouse near Seattle.

ventory in raw materials so that they have the
parts to meet winter demand, including for
snowshoes, which they ran out of this winter
and couldn't restock. " If demand is way above
normal again, we'll be ready to respond, " said
Sanders. " We don't want to blow up the market with closeouts, so we're stocking up on raw
materials. "

LESSONS LEARNED
" How companies reacted to COVID-19 will be
a topic of MBA papers for the next 20 years, "
says Sanders. " By June, we should have understood that working from home and travel
restrictions translated to more people wanting
to get outdoors. We should have focused on
consumer behavior, not retail sales. But after
two months of near-total shutdowns, nobody
had the guts. "
Gleason says the pandemic has been a reminder to be nimble. " Stay loose and don't
break commitments unless it's a matter of
survival, " he says. " Develop a supply chain and
relationships with people you trust. Be significant to your suppliers and they will reciprocate
if they have any sense at all. "
Mystery Ranch kept its contractors cranking on work to which it had committed, and
by pivoting its Bozeman, Montana, factory to
supplying hospitals, first responders, Indian

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Gleason says that pandemic shortages will
reverberate through the outdoor market for at
least the next two years.
That seems accurate. Surging demand continues. While access to vaccines was recently
promised to every American by May 1, summer
2021 still promises less international travel
and more domestic and drive-to adventures.
Outdoor gear sales should continue to surge.
Sanders says demand is more predictable.
But some of Cascade's U.S. suppliers are still
not running at full capacity.
Cascade expects to be " back to normal " and
able to deliver 95% of its book by summer. The
company will struggle to produce and deliver
5% of its products for the next six to 12 months
because demand has exceeded manufacturing
capacity. Canceled orders, whether for fittings
or finished goods, paired with massive growth
in demand, mean gaps in product availability
over the next few months and up to a year.
So, if you want to sell tents, snap them up
now. Tent factories are booked through mid2022. Normal tent lead time is nine months,
including making fabric, and five to six months
for tent fabrication. The current lead time is 14
months.
There's a lot of guessing going on, and not
all are going to nail it. Gleason anticipates production swinging to overcapacity. " Very few
people are perfect in their planning, " he says.
" You have to be ready to deal with people's
moods. Assuming that growth will continue
on a straight line is a mistake. " O.R.
April 2021/ OUTDOOR RETAILER 11



Outdoor Retailer - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outdoor Retailer - April 2021

Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - Cover1
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - Cover2
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 3
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 4
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 5
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 6
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 7
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 8
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 9
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Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - 36
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - Cover3
Outdoor Retailer - April 2021 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/dailySM2022_Day3
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/dailysm2022_Day2
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https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2022_Day3
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2022_Day2
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2022_Day1
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https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2021_day2
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2021_day1
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/daily2020_day2
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/daily2020_day1
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/2020winter
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