Friday random observation

Here's some interesting news about Brunton, an American company that we featured in the gear section of Thursday's camping guide. Brunton is bringing some of its manufacturing home, and not just home to the U.S., but to the rural West (Riverton, Wyoming). It's an interesting case study for Western states trying attract business. Many outdoor businesses start locally and domestically made, then ship the manufacturing overseas, and most likely to China. Wouldn't it be cool if that guy (or gal) tinkering in the garage to make a better piece of outdoor gear could build a business locally and expand it while keeping the manufacturing and jobs at home? There's a fair number of outdoor companies doing just that. Buck knives in Post Falls immediately comes to mind.

It sounds like Brunton is trying to follow suit.Image Much of Brunton's press release is self congratulatory, and what goes unsaid is what percentage of Brunton's products are still manufactured overseas and how much domestically. But at the same time, I get a case of the warm fuzzies thinking about 50 of our Wyoming neighbors getting jobs to make the products we use to enjoy the outdoors.

Let's hope it becomes a trend, and one that's so common it's no longer newsworthy.

Here's the press release from Brunton:

It's one thing to make products that help American sportsmen savor their outdoor passions. It's another thing to jump in with both boots -- finding ways to make products onshore, creating new jobs, pushing for bold ideas and new growth, supporting partners large and small who live and breathe American skills and values.

Brunton calls it "got your back", and it makes them far more than a premium American brand - they're an engaged partner that actively looks for ways to pitch in, help out and push on, even when things get rocky. That goes a long way beyond putting products on the shelf.

Take one example: as more American brands move offshore, Brunton found a way to bring nearly 50 manufacturing jobs home from China. Base Plate compass models are now made in Riverton, Wyoming - same retail, same margins, same quality - and proudly built in the U.S.A. That's a move in the right direction - and pretty heroic to newly-hired workers. How many brands are bringing jobs back to the U.S?

Here's another. Brunton scrapped the all-too-common mass-volume approach to put 100% focus on specialty retailers - the independent shops that support the lifestyle and values that sportsmen cherish. They're the heart and soul of the outdoor business, and as Full Line Partners Brunton backs them all the way, man to man, good times or bad. Every challenge and success is shared - good to know when your lifestyle and your livelihood are one and the same.

What's more, this brand listens hard. If a product isn't selling, they'll swap it for one that does. That keeps shop sales up and staff employed. Just as importantly, concerns are heard and fixed fast, so retailers and their customers have the confidence to gear up. And since great ideas can come from anywhere, dealer, employee and customer suggestions often end up as Brunton products or policies, improving performance all around.

And of course, everyone knows that innovation sells - so Brunton innovates like nobody's business.

Take portable power: Brunton invented the category with compact solar chargers that collect and store energy to recharge outdoor electronics day or night - much more convenient and potentially life-saving - creating a whole new market that didn't exist before.

At the same time, Brunton re-defined world-class optics with revolutionary binoculars and scopes that are the best on earth, bar none.

In 2012, they'll introduce nearly 50 new products. And when you roll out new products and categories, it creates growth and jobs up and down the channel.

And, Brunton is teaming with like-minded brands such as Matthews Inc. to get new ideas into market and more customers into dealers. When you get premium American brands pulling together, good things happen.

What's more, Brunton actively supports American sportsmen's groups and government policies that protect America's hunting rights and heritage - freedoms that we all hold as precious.

With homegrown brands like Brunton leading the way, U.S. outdoorsmen have more ways to buy American, support our economy, protect our rights - and enjoy the best products on the planet.

There's no doubt about it: if you relish the outdoors - as a sportsman or a businessman -- Brunton has your back. And that's a mighty good feeling.

You can see more of Brunton's products HERE.