Garmont HQ Visit
Last fall, Garmont moved their North American offices from Vermont to Portland, Oregon. I recently had an opportunity to visit the new headquarters and meet with President David Fee and Marketing Coordinator Ashley Powers. Located in Northwest Portland, the new digs offer a nice relaxed but professional atmosphere, replete with the requisite Portland bike rack (in the office).
Garmont is more than just a ski boot company. They have a long history of hiking, walking and climbing footwear, too. The Portland office now houses the full North American staff for their footwear and ski boot programs, and although their warehouse is still currently in Vermont, Fee expects to have a new Portland warehouse open in the next few months. Of course, Garmont's Italian HQ remains firmly planted in Montebelluna, the well-established ski and climbing boot capital of Europe.
Why the move to the Northwest? According to Fee, several factors led to the move including a change in the company's structure where the Italian owner assumed 100% ownership of the North American operations and Garmont's desire to maintain and expand on their current North American market presence in part by revamping their office and establishing a presence on the West Coast like may other leading outdoor companies.
Once dominated by Garmont and Scarpa, the telemark and alpine touring ski boot markets have seen pressure from several new players including Black Diamond, Dynafit and La Sportiva and even longtime alpine boot manufacturers like Salomon and Tecnica. Revamping their office and reestablishing their presence in the Western US is part of Garmont's big picture planning to keep the brand's ski boot line in the forefront of the market.
Looking ahead, Fee is excited about the new three- and four-buckle AT boots (as are we): the Cosmos and the Orbit. Having been a strong player in the AT boot market over the years with the MegaRide and more recent Radium, as well as in the stouter freeride category with the Delirium, Garmont saw it was time to turn their focus to the growing lightweight, performance oriented AT boot sector. The new Cosmos and Orbit boots fit the bill nicely. We will be testing boots in this growing category on Mt. Hood in late May and are excited to get some quality up and down time in Garmont's newest boots.
Garmont remains committed to telemark and NTN boots as well, and although the telemark boot line is unchanged for next season, the new NTN Freedom binding will be available this fall. The Freedom offers increased touring performance and a lighter weight construction for the NTN system
Garmont also distributes Bridgedale socks and owns the Life-Link brand. Life-Link, once a primary player in avalanche rescue shovels and probes, adjustable ski poles and even ski packs, has seen little branding or marketing in recent years. Fee said that the Life-Link brand remains an important part of their quiver, and recognizes the need to revamp the brand and suggested we should see some changes in the future.
It's nice to see Garmont embracing their new Northwest home and their dedication to the sport we all love. We'll be sure to post details about the Cosmos and Orbit from our boot testing in May.
Any mention of the sui generis 7tm power tour binding? Will they continue to be available?