Whether it be the wintery slopes, extensive trails, or winding rivers, Ogden’s adventurous terrain makes it easy for the outdoor recreation industry to flourish. This year, the Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit selected Ogden’s Weber State University to play host to an educational discussion on the importance and impact of outdoor recreation on business, economics, health, preservation, and quality of life. Mayor Mike Caldwell spoke to attendees, expressing what makes Ogden standout as a growing outdoor mecca. “We’ve got two rivers that converge in our downtown, we’re 20 minutes from world-class ski resorts, 220 miles of trails, and there’s a lot of history that’s come out of Ogden,” says Mayor Caldwell. “We’ve established ourselves as an outdoor recreation community with an elevated quality of life.”
With more than 50 outdoor recreation businesses operating out of Ogden, including major brands like Amer Sports, ENVE, Osprey, and Rossignol it’s no wonder Ogden has become synonymous with outdoor adventure. Many of these businesses leverage the local customer base to understand the outdoor market while also collaborating closely with nonprofits and city partners to benefit the business, recreation users, and the community. A panel discussion with these Ogden-based outdoor recreation businesses at the Rec Summit highlighted what it’s like to operate out of the city, why it’s good for employee retention, and how they connect to the community.
The panel, well versed in Ogden’s outdoor playground, included Jake Pantone with ENVE Composites; Ryan Bateman of Amer Sports; Hyperthreads owner, Spencer Storey; and the non-profit GOAL Foundation’s Eric Bauman. Ogden City’s Deputy Manager of Business Development, David Sawyer moderated the event. When asked why these businesses chose Ogden as their bases—the ease of getting outside was highlighted across the board. “We established our global headquarters in Ogden in large part for the outdoor access the are provides. As a company who is developing and manufacturing industry-leading cycling products right here in Ogden, it is critical that we can test and showcase ENVE products in our own backyard,” explains ENVE’S Pantone.
Amer Sports also saw the mountains as a key piece to their selecting Ogden for business back in 2007. “The majority of our organization’s focus at the time was on skiing and snowboarding. Today, it’s running, hiking, and road running with the Salomon brand,” says Bateman. “Access and proximity to the outdoor trade shows and being able to bring in key decision makers, put them on trails, water equipment, or on mountains just a few minutes from our office made a lot of sense.” The surrounding Ogden landscape allows for businesses to not only test out products but gives their employees access to a higher-level quality of life.
“I’m here because it’s very much the proximity to recreation. To go from our office store front or anywhere our employees have their homes, to be able to be on the trails in just a few minutes, it was huge. It’s very much our own internal staff that tests our product because they’re actual users of it and we understand the culture, color, and style of it because we’re avid users of it,” says Hyperthreads owner, Storey.
Pantone agrees, the landscape is a draw, saying, “We have no problem recruiting people to Ogden, the reason they came here is for the quality of living.” Partnering with non-profits like the GOAL Foundation adds to that quality of life through their youth programs and events like the Ogden Marathon or The NUT (Northern Utah Trailfest, set for October 6th through the 8th). The GOAL (Get Out and Live) Foundation started soon after the 2002 Winter Olympics as a means to not only continue the volunteer spirit brought on by the Games, but continue to show off Ogden’s stunning landscape. Pantone says, “The GOAL Foundation’s efforts between these events in Utah has given us an opportunity to showcase our business and let people know what we do.”
GOAL Foundation’s Bauman agrees that the partnerships benefit both business and the community. He says, “To be surrounded by these world class brands, helps build our events because of the local focus. It brings great alignment, and these partnerships just really elevate our participant experience.”
While these businesses and non-profits agree the quality of life is a key factor in success, a connection with young talent from academia, especially those coming from Weber State University, will set the trajectory for the outdoor recreation industry. Amer Sport’s Bateman explains, “One of the areas we need more support for is
the connectivity with local universities and the pipeline of talent. The students go to school and programs that then put them in the industry. As those people move up throughout the ranks of those organizations they tend to stay in those geographies. There’s a lot of opportunity there to have a local talent pool that connects organizations with universities.”
Ogden City’s David Sawyer sees that pipeline starting to develop saying, “We do speak frequently with the universities and the technical colleges about programs to support local business. There’s an opportunity there to develop this local talent.”
The coalescence of Ogden’s landscape, educational institutions, government leaders, community organizations, and business will continue to drive the quality of life that makes the city a perfect place to live, work, and play. Mayor Caldwell told Outdoor Recreation Summit attendees, “You cannot duplicate what we have in terms of natural assets here in Ogden. It matters to employees, to the employers to bring their employees in and give them opportunities to get out and play, to feel a part of something that’s really unique.”