Jack Gilbert - Enter the Cummings; Interests Coalesce; Mountain Hardwear is Sparked

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Jack talks about employee ownership, seeking out financing, and meeting John Cumming and then Ian.

His references: "old friend from The North Face" = Hans; "guy I'd never met" in SLC = Ian


Jack: Well, we wanted to own the company ourselves, I really believe in employee ownership. And so we checked with everybody that was involved in the discussions and found out that we had maybe a third or a quarter of what the money was that we needed. And I talked to a few friends that were willing to make an investment, an old friend from North Face, but we still were short. Our budget indicated we probably needed $3 million before we were going to be profitable and able to sustain ourselves. And that was actually a pretty good forecast.

So we ended up in an outdoor show in Reno, Nevada in probably August of 1993 and by chance I was approached by a fellow named John Cumming whose father was an investor and he was a mountain guide and he had heard that maybe some companies were for sale and he was interested in getting in the business. And so after having a phone call with this guy I’d never met in Salt Lake City, he asked if we had a business plan, I said, “Yeah, we have a business plan,” and he said, “Well, I’d like to see it. Why don’t you fly out here in the next couple of days?”

So Paul Kramer and I got on the airplane, took some products back, took our business plan back to Salt Lake City and laid the program out and got surprisingly a very positive reception. And the most important thing about it I think was the fact that they said, “Look, we’d like to buy an existing company in the form of Sierra Designs, which was doing about $15 million in sales, but if we can’t do that then we’d be willing to help you with a start-up business.” And so we realized that we had two options; if for some reason we couldn’t buy the company, we had the ability to start one from scratch.

And that was really where the idea of Mountain Hardwear kind of got its first beginnings.

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This Story is part of a Series...

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