After finishing our best year ever in 2014, and having just returned from two national trade shows for the hunting and outdoor industries (ATA and SHOT), I thought it might be time to provide a little bit of an update to our "About Us" section.
I think because I was born and raised in the midwest and am used to working hard, I find it difficult to brag about our success, even though we've had plenty of it. At the end of the year when we hand out our year-end bonus checks to every employee, I give them a little bit of a "state of the union" company review. One of the statistics that I talked about was how our business has doubled in the last four years and has tripled in the last five years. When I looked at our constantly growing team and told them this information, I knew it was pretty significant, but I have to admit, it wasn't until about a week later that it really soaked in. Sure, there are plenty of other companies that are growing even faster, but as ALPS transforms from a small business into a mid-sized company, it sure is great to watch our team contribute to the growth of the business.
I also want to make a quick comment about the launch of our new pack line. We introduced OutdoorZ Extreme packs to the industry at the recent ATA and SHOT shows. To say the response from our dealers was outstanding would be an understatement. Just like our other ALPS products, these new Extreme packs include innovative features and materials and showcase ALPS' craftsmanship, durability, attention to detail, and performance that is second to none. Still, they are offered at prices that plenty of consumers can afford. I think a comment I received from one of my best industry friends summed up what a lot of us are thinking. He said, "You know, these Extreme packs are really going to continue to get you guys noticed. You're already making fantastic progress, as more and more consumers learn about the ALPS magic, but these packs just might impact you for the next 20 years!"
As our team and business continues to grow in 2015 and beyond, we really do want to thank all of our customers for their continued support. The best products in the world can't survive without customers who want to purchase and use them. We appreciate that so many of you have given us a chance to make your outdoor activities more enjoyable. We look forward to seeing you on the trail, in the woods, or wherever your outdoor adventures take you!
I started ALPS Mountaineering, a small company located in rural east central Missouri, with the mission of providing more gear for more people. We offer performance-oriented packs, tents, sleeping bags, furniture, air pads, and air beds. All of our products are "consumer designed" for comfortable, enjoyable trips and have tough, durable construction for a lifetime of use; and while the products are great, the prices are even better. I have been working in the outdoor industry since 1978 in a variety of design, sales, and marketing positions. Much of my prior outdoor experience came from running the Kelty brand, which also marketed packs, tents, and sleeping bags. In 1993, Brian, the oldest of our three children, was about to enter middle school, so I left Kelty because I wanted to have a more flexible schedule to allow me to be more involved in my family's activities.
As our business has grown, so has our need for good, qualified staff members. We started filling those needs in 2003 when Brian graduated from college with his degree in marketing. While my intention never was to only hire friends and family, I continued the trend by next hiring my wife, LaRayne. When Adam, our second son, graduated in May of 2006, also with a degree in marketing, we hired him. In the summer of 2006 we needed even more sales and marketing help, so we next hired our daughter-in-law, Sarah Beth. Our youngest child, Sarah Kristin, graduated from Mizzou in May of 2009 with her degree in communication, and we also said to her, "Come on board!" Sarah Kristin's husband, Doug, joined us as a sales assistant in November of 2009. As I've happily and very proudly told several people, we've redefined the family business. Of course we have plenty of "non-Brune" employees -- Debbie, Karen, Phil, Sean, Zach, Jeff, Amanda, Andy, Donna, Rae Jean, Rodney, Jared, Justin, Brittany, Jordan, Lynn, John, Megan, Bart, Ashley, Tammy, Colby, and Melissa -- and we consider them to be part of our extended "business family." While we believe in making exceptional products, we also think it's equally important to have outstanding employees -- and I can say that we're doing a great job doing both.
Regarding our products, the challenge we have is to convince you that we can deliver products that offer great designs, are loaded with plenty of features, are made with excellent quality, and are also affordable. In our current economic situation, it's extra important to evaluate all of our purchases. We think if you do your homework and fairly compare our products to those of our competitors, you'll see we can offer you the best true value.
Performance Oriented Products with Consumer Designs - Sure we have some of our own ideas, and yes we get some suggestions from our factories, but our best design suggestions come from our customers. A key factor in our success is that we really listen to you. We take your ideas and constantly make our products even better. Actually, this is the easy part of our business. The hard part is convincing our new customers that our products are designed with the utmost performance and quality and still are so affordable.
Tough Durable Construction - We use only quality raw materials that are assembled at the best factories in the world. Because of this, we can produce products that are lifetime guaranteed against defects in materials and workmanship. ALPS Mountaineering products are designed with our outdoor consumers in mind. We send our products with people rafting the Grand Canyon, with people hiking the AT, and with folks doing day hikes on their favorite local trail to make sure our products perform well in varied environments. They're not indestructible -- they will see normal wear and tear -- but they will hold up better than most competing products.
Fantastic Prices - Until our customers can actually hold one of our products in their hands and carefully look it over, it's difficult to convey our quality and construction. We believe a comfortable pack or chair, a weatherproof tent, and a warm sleeping bag or air pad do not need to be expensive. Value can be defined as getting what you pay for. We define value as getting more than you pay for.
Family of Brands - As our brand awareness continues to grow, we're constantly asked by our dealers and customers to add more products. It's not unusual for us to hear someone ask, "Can't you wave your ALPS magic wand over this product category and make it better for us?" When I started in the camping and backpacking business back in the late '70s, there was a greater divide between "backpackers" and "hunters." It's clear to us that there is no longer the great divide that once existed. With that in mind, we launched a second brand several years ago, ALPS OutdoorZ, to be able to offer some of our products that were more focused on the hunting and fishing markets.
Our most recent expansion has been the Browning Camping line. If you're an avid outdoorsman, you'll surely recognize the Browning name as one that has stood for quality products for over 100 years. We're very proud and excited to say that we'll be marketing a line of sleeping bags, air pads, tents, and camp furniture under the Browning Camping line. Combining our expertise in design, manufacturing, and marketing with their tremendous brand name will give customers immediate assurance that the Browning Camping line is "The Best There Is."
We've been blessed with a lot of growth and expansion over the years. We're excited about the products and brands that we have today and look forward to adding and continually improving items that will help you enjoy your outdoor adventures.
Visit the ALPS Mountaineering Pro-Tester Program and see if it is something you would like to participate in. We value our customers feedback.