By Chris Meehan | Jun 19, 2016
Employees: 6 in shop, contractors as needed
The name is only a slight misnomer as the company manufactures custom outdoor gear and repairs the well-loved and worn.
"The manufacturing side of things has been the money maker for the business and is at the forefront of the business," explains Sam Goodhue, manager of the company's repairs department. Goodhue also works on product development (he says there are no real titles). The company focuses on outdoor gear like jackets, sleeping bags, tents and backpacks.
Boulder Mountain Repair's genesis came about because Ron Simon's buddies wanted to repair their gear, Goodhue says. "It was an informal start, having friends give him $20 to fix their backpack. He'd have cash in his pocket for the day."
The company has moved a handful of times, from storefronts to basements. It recently moved into an industrial park near Upslope Brewing. "Ron says that probably 90 to 95 percent of Upslope's customers are potential customers for us," Goodhue quips.
One of Boulder Mountain Repair's primary focuses is the U.S. military, according to Goodhue. "We're Berry Amendment compliant," he explains. "We manufacture products that end up being used by the Army and the Marines."
The company contracts with other companies to manufactures products. "We're in talks with Mountainsmith in Golden," says Goodhue, "to redevelop an old pack they've had on the market and manufacture it for them."
Boulder Mountain Repair also makes custom products. "For the most part the custom work is end-user consumers who are just starting their business or have very, very specific need for a product," Goodhue says. He offers the example of an entrepreneur who wants to create a modular ski-touring backpack.
For such a product the company typically creates three prototypes, a rough one, one that focuses on features and a final market-ready product. At the point the customer gets all the patterns, the bill of materials and can choose to market or sell the final product to a manufacturer.
Goodhue doesn't anticipate the company making full lines of products, however. "We'd love to be able to manufacture backpacks and sleeping bags and jackets. It's kind of our passion we're outdoor people," he says. "But we find it very difficult to compete with Asia in general."
However, the company sometimes repairs products made in Asia before they come to market. "When manufacturers get their products from Asia and something is wrong . . . they bring the product to us to tweak or redo this one stitch-line that isn't right," Goodhue says.
With the new location, Boulder Mountain Repair also has expanded its warranty and repair services. The company now provides warranty repairs for 10 or so manufacturers, among them Patagonia and KJUS skiwear. Efforts like Patagonia's Worn Wear campaign are helping people learn that they can get their gear repaired instead of replacing it.
"The most common repairs we do are zipper repairs. About half the time the zippers just need a new slider," Goodhue says. It's a quick $20 repair and an employee can typically do that while a customer waits. Replacing a full zipper on a jacket, however, costs about $80. For expensive jackets, a new zipper can extend its life by years, he says, but with some ultralight equipment the jacket will wear out before the zipper.
The company also offers cleaning services for outdoor gear, making sure jackets remain waterproof and breathable and that sleeping bags retain their loft and insulation.
In fact, the company does a lot of cleaning. "We started working with Vail and Helly Hanson. Last year we washed and applied DWR [durable water repellent] to 10,000 Vail Resorts garments during the offseason."
Challenges: "Small-batch manufacturing. The initial setup phase can be a larger part of the whole thing rather than if we were doing large numbers," Goodhue contends. "Each repair is different. Having a staff that is able to know a variety of repair techniques is one of the challenges."
Opportunities: A growing trend towards repairing over replacing. "People would rather have one pair of nice ski pants and get those repaired rather than have two pairs of cheap pants," Goodhue says.
Needs: "We need more business, more manufacturing projects, we need more exposure. A lot of people don't know we exist and now that we're in the new facility we need to get out name out there and start marketing," Goodhue says.