Jack Gilbert in western attire, quits Sierra Designs and the exodus to Mountain Hardwear begins.

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Mike Wallenfels asks Jack about trying to buy Sierra Designs and why that didn't succeed. "Didn't they like you?" he asks.


Jack Gilbert:

Well, we kept trying and finally after numerous meetings and just getting the run around, we kind of surmised that the plan, other than they are doing their job as a bankruptcy people and selling off the companies to give the company what money they could raise, they really wanted to buy North Face. They wanted to keep the North Face for themselves and they actually thought that we are pretty capable and they didn’t really want us running Sierra Designs.

So that deal kept changing, timing kept changing, so finally we reached a point, it happened to be on Halloween day in 1993, where we were having a Halloween party, and I’d prepared to make one last offer and if the offer wasn’t accepted then I was going to leave and once I left, I was to ask some other people if they would like to join us in starting a new business.

So I had a cowboy outfit, I had on a Stetson hat and my boots and my jeans, and I walked over The North Face and met with Mardy Cason and asked him one more time and I said, “Will you give us specific proposal to buy the company? We got financing and we like to buy Sierra Designs” and it was clear that he wasn’t going to do that and I handed in the resignation letter at that point. And I also had a second letter in my pocket from Paul Kramer, who happened to be in Far East working on product development, and I said, “I do not know what the Paul letter says exactly but he has instructed me that if I resign, he wants you to have this letter too”.

So I handed over Paul’s letter and pretty soon he read them both to me and said, “Well you better go back and clean out your desk. You are no longer employed here.”

It was just about 2 in the afternoon, so I walk back over the company and told people what happened and they did ask us to have a meeting and this was kind of the tough parts of the meeting because there were some very capable people in Sierra Designs and they are really only 6 of us at the time (we added a couple shortly thereafter) but we had to tell some people that were there that we are going and they were staying and hopefully the opportunity would be good for them.

But by the end of the day, the people…the locksmith showed up, the lock changed on the door and other than few things I left behind which I had to pick later, we were out of there.

And the next Monday, we were on a way to new place.

Jack Gilbert in cowboy attire

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This Story is part of a Series...

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