Mark has had one job in the Outdoor Biz with Outdoor Gear Exchange and tells us how he got started, the unique evolution of the shop, and some of the great features and services they offer.
First Exposure to the Outdoors
I’ve been enjoying the outdoors since I was a kid. We used to do to a lot of camping with my parents and skiing. I was actually coming up to stowe ski regularly from my home state of New Jersey as a kid. I remember the drives very distinctly and all the things that you do with kids to keep them busy on a six hour drive. Also remember being dragged out for the first first chair every day by my dad who was indefatigable on terms of the need to ski regardless of what the weather was like. And I married someone who’s just like that. I tend to be more of a fair-weather skier at this point in my life, and that’s OK, I’ve got the skills.
We also used to do an annual camping trip with my father. We do a canoe camping trip every summer for a week and it was just all part of my tradition.
Things we talked about
I think getting into the outdoor business is similar to getting into any business. My advice is for people to find a business itself that you value, that you value their values, that you like the way the business runs and just get a job there, doesn’t matter what it is. If you are engaged and involved in your business and you’re working in an organization that has a good culture, you’ll get recognized and you’ll move up the ladder. Because you know, a certain portion of everybody working in the outdoor industry, businesses cycles through. You know, for a lot of people it’s a stepping stone to get out of college, you want to sort of plant yourself in town, you’re in for a couple of years, get a job in the outdoor shop and then move on. We’ve got that as a big piece of our employment.
We also have many of our employees that have been with us for over five years. We now have an employee ownership program where we’ve got currently 12 employee owners, Joe, my initial partner and I continue to create that engagement and people want careers, they want a place to stay. They want to stay there and grow. We’ve been able to create positions and now have a whole department that is just managing fulfillment by Amazon. And that’s a great, that’s a great avenue for people who want to focus more on the technical aspects. We’ve also got a great ski tech department and we try to promote our ski in our bike texts to learn more skills and develop their careers.
And we encourage our employees when they’re ready to leave, we encourage them to move on and we give them recommendations as needed. We were not looking to be the end point in anybody’s career. We want to support our employees, grow their education and when it’s time for them to follow their next passion within the industry, we want to support that so it gives us room to move people up who are in a lower area organization who do want those careers as well. So it’s good, very positive cycle.
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
Touching the Void by Joe Simpson
Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
Best Gear Purchase Under $100
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