Ensuring the growth and success of the outdoor industry
We create a powerful voice at the federal, state and local levels for policies that provide protection of spaces for outdoor recreation
We convene the industry on key issues that protect the health of our outdoor businesses
Research and educate
We research and educate on important business topics and changing industry trends
Inspire and activate
We inspire and activate a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts
Don’t look back. Any track coach will tell you that the key to a successful exchange is to keep moving forward. As I prepare to pass the baton to my successor, incoming board chair Gordon Seabury, I’m proud to be approaching the exchange with such positive energy.
I believe OIA’s successes in 2014 combined with a reevaluation of our priorities have helped us to establish a firm foundation for moving ahead and given us tremendous momentum. In the past year, we have put a more intentional focus on increasing the value of your OIA membership through our consumer insights initiatives, our work in government affairs and corporate responsibility and collaborative efforts with other organizations designed to improve the vitality of our industry. We have also started a comprehensive review of our membership records in an effort to make certain that the right people in our member organizations are getting the information they need directly.
As I look ahead, we have three projects launching in 2015 that are particularly exciting and I believe will have immediate and measurable impacts for your day-to-day business and in the years to come.
ConsumerVue: In 2014, we conducted an outdoor consumer segmentation study in order to better understand how the general U.S. population defines “outdoor” recreation and how they play. The study revealed overlapping but distinct consumer segments with different motivations, hindrances, desires, expectations and behaviors. We have begun and will continue to roll out the results of the study via our digital research tool, ConsumerVue.
Website: We’ve overhauled our approach to delivering news and insights that are unique to our membership and that you can’t find anywhere else. Our new website brings to life the challenges, opportunities, best practices, sobering lessons and inspiring achievements of you and your peers. It’s stories of the outdoor people, by the outdoor people, for the outdoor people.
Close to Home: “Outdoorsy” is no longer the exclusive domain of guys hauling 80-pound packs up steep mountain faces or through the backcountry. Casting a fly into the stream behind your office, visiting a local park or going for a 30-minute trail run are every bit as "real." From the profusion of urban parks to improved bicycle commuting programs, there are more opportunities than ever for people to play outside. Through our close-to-home collaboration with Outdoor Alliance and Conservation Alliance, we have a loud and persuasive voice in the fight to protect our nation’s recreation from your backyard to the backcountry.
OIA is a member organization at its core. The association is here to ask you what you want to know, need to know and to facilitate conversations and develop resources that will deliver an answer. Reach out to the OIA staff and board members, engage in a working group and attend Capitol Summit and Rendezvous. In doing so, you’ll contribute to the legacy of collaboration that has made OIA an invaluable resource for nearly three decades. It is this resource that will help make our industry healthier and our businesses stronger for decades to come.
Thank you for giving me the honor of serving as your board chair.
OIA Board Chair
Founded in 1989 by leaders of 14 companies who recognized that “outdoor” was more than just a passing consumer trend and, therefore, required an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of their industry, Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) began as the Outdoor Recreation Coalition of America (ORCA).
The original name included the word “coalition” because these founding members knew that to be effective, outdoor as an industry needed to rally together the complete spectrum of outdoor members, from manufacturers to retailers, sales representatives to suppliers. Those founding members came together and leaned in to move this industry forward by sharing our passion, working through hard issues, and collaborating with peers to create the economic power that this industry is today. Just look how far we've come:
OIA’s government affairs team works to represent the interests of the outdoor industry in Washington, D.C., and communities across the country. We use the Outdoor Recreation Economy Report to inform policymakers and to promote the significant economic contribution made to our nation’s economy and the millions of jobs supported by our industry. We emphasize the tremendous economic and health benefits that are gained from investments in our industry—from ensuring funding for and access to public lands and waters, to business policies that promote the growth and success of the outdoor industry for future generations. We tell our industry’s story—that when you invest in the outdoor recreation industry, you invest in healthy communities and healthy economies.
Source: OIA Recreation Economy Report, 2012
Outdoor recreation—such as hiking, biking, camping, hunting, fishing, paddling, snowsports and wildlife watching—is an American pastime and a powerful economic driver, providing sustainable, domestic jobs in urban and rural communities across America.
The OIA government affairs team advocates for U.S. recreation infrastructure—including public lands and waters provided by federal, state and local governments—to ensure that America’s national outdoor recreation system remains a crucial component of the U.S. economy and a resource for all who want to recreate outside.
New Wilderness, Parks and Wild & Scenic Rivers legislation passed in the National Defense Authorization Act. We have been working on most of these bills for years with great partners like Outdoor Alliance and The Conservation Alliance. Places protected that OIA directly advocated for included Hermosa Creek in Colorado, Alpine Lakes in Washington and Columbine-Hondo in New Mexico.
The OIA government affairs team closely monitored dozens of races across the country, working with donors to the OIA Political Action Committee (OIAPAC) who give their personal dollars to support candidates who support the outdoor industry. We invested in a bipartisan slate of 17 congressional candidates who support the outdoor industry, providing outdoor industry executives the opportunity to deliver the message that supporting our industry in Congress makes good political and economic sense.
Of those 17 candidates, 15 won and two candidates, Senator Udall (D-CO) and Senator Hagan (R-NC), lost. Prior to the election, we prepared our first-ever election guide for our members, educating them on more than two dozen key House and Senate races that had a very real impact on our industry, and forecasted the results. After the election we sent membership a follow-up, post-election analysis, explaining key changes due to the Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress, as well as opportunities with committee leadership changes.
With communications about the importance of these two programs and celebrating both their 50th anniversaries at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, we also garnered 150 companies to sign on to a letter to Congress reiterating the importance of these programs and asking them to reauthorize and fully fund LWCF and use the Wilderness Act to continue to protect special places. These letters with company logos were sent to every member of Congress and continue to be used to show the outdoor industry’s support for these two critical pieces of legislation.
Conrad Anker, recreation advocate and athlete for The North Face, on an expedition in the Bugaboos.
– Conrad Anker, The North Face
OIA's trade program represents the diversity of our membership, including outdoor companies whose products are conceived, designed and produced in America, as well as those companies that utilize global value chains to bring their products to retail markets. From large companies to small, family-owned businesses, we work to ensure that U.S. federal trade policy fosters and promotes a stable and predictable environment for all outdoor industry businesses, while seeking to lower costs for outdoor businesses and their customers.
As such, OIA pursues a “balanced trade agenda,” meaning we seek the elimination of trade barriers, including tariffs on outdoor products that have no commercially viable production in the United States. For those products that are manufactured domestically, OIA supports federal policies that aid U.S. manufacturers and help them transition to competition in a global economy.
OIA hosted a roundtable with Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) to discuss his Rocky Mountain Recreation and Wilderness Preservation Act and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Companies discussed how they could hire more employees or could export with more competitive pricing if the negotiations proceed. Polis asked the industry to help pull the remainder of the Colorado delegation on board.
OIA-convened a public lands and international trade roundtable with Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) at the Boulder, Colorado, REI store.
Ten members of the House of Representatives signed a letter expressing support for the outdoor industry's priorities on apparel and footwear in the TPP negotiations.
Twenty-four representatives and senators expressed their support for OIA's signature piece of trade legislation that would eliminate import taxes on recreational performance outerwear—the U.S. OUTDOOR Act.
– Michael Ratchford, W.L. Gore
The Chairman’s Award is granted to individuals who have provided exemplary contributions to the outdoor industry.
Michael Collins, former Vice President of Public Affairs for REI
The OIA Friend of the Outdoor Industry Award recognizes political leaders for their outstanding work that benefits all aspects of OIA’s policy agenda.
Gary Herbert, Governor of Utah
The OIA Advocacy Leadership Award recognizes an individual OIA member who has significantly contributed to the advancement of the OIA Policy Agenda and the outdoor industry’s stature in the public policy arena.
Michael Ratchford, Director of Government Affairs, W.L. Gore & Associates
Sutton Bacon, President and CEO, Nantahala Outdoor Center
In addition to the OIA Advocacy Leadership Awards, OIA also recognizes those individuals who make an outstanding contribution to the advocacy arena at a regional level.
Marc Berejka, Director of Government Affairs, REI
Nick Brayton, President, Woolrich
Carolyn Brodsky, President, Sterling Rope
Tony Ferguson, Logistics Administrator, Patagonia, Inc.
Ashley Korenblat, President, Western Spirit Cycling
Ann Krcik, Director, Brand Communications & Outdoor Participation, The North Face
Sue Rechner, President, Confluence Outdoor
Ken Meidell, President & COO, Outdoor Research
The OIA corporate responsibility program continues to help the outdoor industry identify and implement best practices in environmental and social responsibility. We strive to:
Thanks to the member-driven efforts of the OIA Sustainability Working Group (OIA SWG), OIA has been able to focus the work in four key areas:
In an effort to provide more opportunities for education, the Sustainability Insights Conference was launched during Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2014. Now a regular part of OIA SWG events at Outdoor Retailer, the conference convenes over 100 industry professionals to share best practices and industry trends around supply chain management, while identifying innovative ways to address shared challenges.
The first OIA Corporate Responsibility Topline Report was released in early 2014 and provides an overview of the history and focus of the Sustainability Working Group, as well as the individual achievements of issue-specific working groups and the numerous tools and resources available as a result of the group's work over the past eight years. A copy of the report can be found online here.
The OIA SWG has continued to develop new tools and resources to help the broader industry move toward better business practices. In 2014, both the Rapid Design Module for Equipment and Phase Two of the Social Responsibility Toolkit were released and are currently available online. More details about both tools can be found here. Additional tools such as the Chemicals Management Tools Resources Guide (supplement for the Chemicals Management Module), traceability standards for sourcing down and wool and other helpful resources have continued development.
The Individual Contribution Award is given out to professionals recognized for their dedication to the outdoor industry's social responsibility efforts.
OIA provides year-round education via live and recorded webinars and onsite events that focus on a variety of topics that impact the outdoor industry, including retail innovation, consumer research, sustainability, recreation and trade policy, supply chain best practices and youth engagement. In 2014, OIA worked continually to deliver programs and services designed to share knowledge, stimulate innovation and support business success across the industry.
Outdoor industry executives represented their businesses and the industry to members of Congress and the Obama administration on issues that affect your bottom line. The Capitol Summit gives leaders the opportunity to discuss outdoor industry business issues—from ensuring all Americans have access to quality recreation systems at local, state and national levels to promoting U.S. trade policy that reflects a balance between outdoor companies with global value chains and those that make their products in the United States.
OIA members, board members and staff meet with Senator Angus King from Maine at the OIA Capitol Summit.
Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Sally Jewell meets with OIA staff after keynoting the OIA Industry Breakfast at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.
Eric Larsen, the Polar Explorer keynotes the Sustainability Insights Conference with a presentation about his expedition to the North Pole.
The largest outdoor products tradeshow in the world, Outdoor Retailer, is where orders are written, new accounts are found, connections are made and brands are launched.
From small shops and regional chains to the largest national and international dealers in every category, Outdoor Retailer attracts thousands of buyers and senior-level decision makers. If you’re involved with the outdoor industry, Outdoor Retailer is the place to be.
OIA once again hosted the Industry Breakfast that opened Outdoor Retailer Winter Market and Summer Market.
At Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Sally Jewell joined us as the keynote speaker to talk about the Obama administration's ambitious initiative to engage and employ youth on public lands, improve access and increase participation in outdoor recreation.
At Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, Peter Sheahan, founder & CEO of Changelabs, joined us to talk about creative strategies for turning challenge into opportunity and change into competitive advantage.
In addition to hosting the Industry Breakfast, OIA also presented 80 Outdoor University educational sessions to exhibitors, retailers and other show attendees at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market and Summer Market combined.
Outdoor University provided live and on-demand workshops, led by industry experts, that focused on six key categories: retail innovation, research, sustainability, best practices, trade and supply chains and current issues.
OIA members brainstorm solutions to top industry challenges during the "Learn. Connect. Innovate." session at Rendezvous 2014.
OIA Members pull a tractor tire from the French Broad River during the Service Project Sponsored by Timberland at the 2014 Rendezvous.
This year's Rendezvous was in Asheville, NC, where participants gathered for networking, education and collaboration, including topics on innovation, technology, consumers and industry trends. Attendees also took part in the 16th annual Service Project Sponsored by Timberland where they cleaned up the French Broad River and enhanced the banks by cleaning brush and installing picnic tables and bike racks for the local community to enjoy.
– Jason McGibbon, Yakima
– Sutton Bacon, Nantahala Outdoor Center
Rendezvous attendees enjoy meeting new friends and catching up with old ones at the beautiful Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC.
The outdoor industry is facing fundamental changes unlike anything it has seen before. To ensure a vibrant future for outdoor, the industry needs to identify what new generations of consumers want and create opportunities to connect in ways that are relevant to them. The OIA market & consumer insights team works tirelessly to stay on top of these macro-level trends, as well as those impacting the outdoor industry specifically.
In order to stay competitive in this ever-changing marketplace, we help our members understand not only WHAT new consumers are doing, but also WHY they are doing it. What's motivating them? Why are they acting the way they are? And how can OIA members use that information to benefit their businesses? The results of this study are brought to life in the OIA ConsumerVue tool and subsequent products in 2015.
These reports offer a deeper look into consumer-generated online discussions around key topics and identify the implications and impacts on outdoor. Topics were:
Social Buzz emails are member-focused, bi-weekly communications featuring insights and metrics on key topics trending in social media conversations.
Topics of these emails include:
Part curated and part original content, the Trends Blog features posts around four primary themes of importance to the outdoor industry: technology, retail, diversity and lifestyle.
The e-newsletter highlights information and key findings from OIA's market & consumer insights department, all in one convenient monthly digest.
We started re-evaluating our market insights offerings to determine how best to serve the industry with the changing landscape of retail and consumer shopping behavior.
Dashboards with key economic indicators are available on the OIA website.
– Frank Kvietok, American Rec
– Fletcher White, Pro Guide Direct
Activating a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and consumers is one of the most pressing issues facing the outdoor industry today. As the philanthropic arm of OIA, the Outdoor Foundation works to ensure our future health by investing in great community and campus programs that help young people recreate outside.
To activate the influential college market, Outdoor Foundation piloted the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge. Over eight weeks, 10 universities across the country competed to see which school could get the most people outside. By all accounts, the program was a success with nearly 9,000 people logging more than 43,000 outdoor activities.
In one of our most exciting new initiatives, Outdoor Foundation worked with the National Park Service to award nearly $400,000 to community projects that promote urban outreach and youth engagement with the outdoors. Through this and other partnerships, Outdoor Foundation has become one of the largest grant makers supporting not-for-profit organizations that engage youth in outdoor recreation.
The 2nd annual Outsiders Ball brought together 1,000 industry leaders on one night to support one common cause. The result: we awarded grants to 100 community and campus projects that have connected 25,000 people with outdoor activities.
Our team consists of incredibly talented and passionate people who are proud to make a difference in the outdoors by doing work that they love.
Interim Executive Director
Senior Director of Government Affairs
Policy Advisor (Recreation)
Policy Advisor (Trade)
Director of Corporate Responsibility
Corporate Responsibility Coordinator
Chief Financial Officer
VP of Marketing & Communications
Digital Marketing Manager
Digital Marketing Coordinator
Social Media Coordinator
Director of Membership
VP of Market & Consumer Insights
Director of Consumer Insights
Market Insights Manager
Director of Education & Events
Education & Events Manager
Senior Director of Programs & Outdoor Nation
Director of Marketing & Communications
Marketing Manager - OIA
Part-time Social Media Coordinator - OIA
Development Manager - OF
The OIA board is composed of a strong and diverse representation of the industry we serve. Our directors are highly engaged industry professionals who work with passion and dedication to help individuals get outside and explore the outdoors. Below are the executive committee of the board and board directors from 2014.
Backwoods Equipment, CEO
Mountain Equipment Co-op, CEO
Far Bank Enterprises, President & CEO
Confluence Outdoor, CEO
C4 Waterman, Co-Founder
Columbia Sportswear Company, Senior Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs
Sterling Rope Co., Inc., President
Rutabaga Paddlesports, Owner
Emerald Expositions, SVP
Waypoint Outdoor, Co-Founder
Patagonia, Global VP of Marketing
PrimaLoft, Inc., President & CEO
All Terrain (Rosemont Ventures, Inc.), President
Burton Corporation, EVP Global Product & North American Sales
Backcountry.com, President & CEO
River Sports Outfitters, Owner
SmartWool, President & General Manager
Wild Things, LLC, CEO
Amer Sports, VP of Sales
REI, Senior Vice President & General Counsel
outdoor DIVAS, Founder & President
Wolverine World Wide, Inc., SVP & President-International
Outdoor Industry Association's financial position remains strong, with increasing revenues and a positive bottom line. Overall, 2014 revenue increased 4 percent over 2013 revenue with dues revenue, increasing by 3 percent. The number of member companies increased from 1,258 to 1,281.