August 6, 2013

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2013 Summer Outdoor Retailer Show Serves as Launch Pad for Utah Startups

Devin Felix

August 6, 2013

Salt Lake City — Two years ago, Jeremy Spencer and his brothers had a simple idea to solve a simple problem. As outdoorsmen, they carried a lot of equipment with backpacks, but they found they often wanted to haul more gear than could fit inside a pack and there were few places on the exterior of the pack to attach extra gear.

To solve the problem, they came up with a small device that allows users to quickly create additional points of attachment on a backpack without damaging its fabric. (Click here for a video demonstrating how the system works.) They called the system the PackTach and also developed a system that allows users to attach a bungee cord net to a pack using several PackTaches.

The brothers started manufacturing and selling their inventions, and last week their new Layton-based company, Tribe One Outdoors, exhibited them at its first Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.

Outdoor Retailer, which just finished its 17th year at the Salt Palace, is the outdoor industry’s largest trade show. It brings in retailers, product designers, journalists and outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. This year an estimated 26,500 people attended to check out the roughly 1,300 companies that exhibited. Among them were many Utah-based companies, including long-established brands like Black Diamond, Petzl and Gregory, as well as startups like Tribe One.

“It’s invaluable to be able to have the industry’s flagship trade event in their back yard,” said OR spokesperson Maura Lansford.

Spencer said having a presence at the show was valuable for his young company. Tribe One’s products are carried by a few retailers in Utah, but representatives of retail companies can be an elusive group. It’s often hard to form the kinds of connections that could result in a national retailer deciding to carry your product. Being in the same place as several thousand such representatives makes that process easier.  

Another startup that exhibited last week was Power Practical, a Salt Lake City company that makes the Power Pot, a cooking pot with an attached thermoelectric generator, which creates electricity that can be used to charge devices such as cell phones or cameras. It was the second OR show for the company, which first attended the winter market earlier this year.

CEO Matt Ford said the product drew a lot of interest at the winter show, but people seemed to be waiting to see if the company would develop beyond just an interesting idea. At their second show people seemed to take them more seriously, Ford said.

Lansford said this year’s summer OR show was roughly comparable in size to last year’s summer show in both the number of exhibitors and visitors. The show added an extra outdoor pavilion this year, which allowed many exhibitors to enlarge their booth space inside the Salt Palace, Lansford said. “It was definitely a success,” she said. “We had really positive feedback from our attendees.”

Outdoor Retailer is scheduled to continue holding its twice-annual shows at the Salt Palace through 2016.

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