This issue of the Gazette's "Sponsor Spotlight" features Matt Tucceri, of STABIL, one of ALDHA-West’s sponsoring gear companies. We asked Matt a few questions about Stabil so that we can get to know them better. If you have any additional questions for Matt, please leave a comment.
1. Please give a brief description of your company. What products do you sell? How did you decide which products to specialize in? How long have you been doing this?
“STABIL specializes in ice traction products all made in Maine for the past 25 years.”
2. Are there products you used to sell, but no longer do? How did you make this decision?
“We have altered and refined products over the years, and have discontinued our ‘Hike’ product this year as the ‘HIKE XP’ will be taking its place.”
Hiker XT traction
3. Who do you see as your market? How do you reach these folks?
“Our market is very broad. We cater to all sorts from the 85-year-old who walks to the mail box, to the long distance thru hiker who relies on our traction products to safely complete any trail they are on.”
4. Did you start as a DIYer? How did you make the leap to starting a gear business?
“We started by catering to people who use our products while working (USPS carriers, Linemen, construction workers) We realized that the people who use our products for work were taking them home on the weekends so they could get outside and enjoy the outdoors on their leisure time.”
5. If you were to play “futurist” in your industry, what would you predict? Materials, design, market, etc.
“I think that the goal here is to always find something that is better, lighter, and stronger. If you don’t strive for these goals you will quickly become obsolete.”
6. Do the big gear companies pose a risk to cottage manufacturers? E.g., can the big companies control the availability of materials or limit retail space opportunities?
“We use all proprietary materials, designs, and manufacture in the USA to overcome a lot of these foreseeable issues.”
7. Do you see the possibility (opportunity and/or threat) that the big gear makers try to buy up the cottage gear makers like we see happening in the craft beer space?
“Of course, there is always that possibility. However, if a company is true to its roots and mission, they will persevere and people will always desire a brand that caters to their specific needs.”
8. What is your goal for your company? How big do you want to be? Are there new product lines you would like to be in?
“Since we do not sell into big box stores and only cater to better independent retailers our growth is somewhat limited. With that being said, a company must always look to grow and expand their brand. We feel there are still plenty of great retailers which we have not tapped into yet. That is where we are putting our focus, and drive.”
9. What do you think are the greatest market opportunities for your product…expand the US market, Europe, Asia? How do you plan to achieve these opportunities?
“Canada. Outside of the United States, this has the largest growth potential for our company.”
10. What do you think was the smartest move you have made? Conversely, what was the biggest mistake you have made?
“Smartest: We have made tremendous strides in captivating and developing our online presence. Sales continue to grow in this market and attention to this channel will only help improve our brand awareness in the future.
Mistakes: Not capitalizing and developing a strong social media presence early on. We have now developed our platforms and brand ambassador programs. As a small company this becomes difficult to dedicate the appropriate time and energy on this vital resource.”
11. Have you found that customers outside the US are skeptical of ultralight/lightweight clothing/gear?
“No, our only issues overseas are knockoffs of our products which are extremely difficult to enforce.”
12. Does your company give back to the trails? What does your company do to promote trails and sustainable use of them?
“We are involved in a number of organizations including the National Park foundation, as well as local and regional agencies that work to preserve and promote the healthy use of these spaces.”
13. Favorite beer?
“Personally: Coors Light”
“As a company: Consensus seems to be a good IPA, or Pale Ale.”
14. Favorite hike?
“Thus far: Mt. Washington in early spring.”
Stride poles on Mt. Washington
15. Where will you go on your next vacation?
16. Is there anything about your company that you would like to talk about that we haven’t covered yet?
“Our company is really all about innovation, and staying committed to our roots where we don’t sell out to big box stores and make cheap product overseas like our competition. We want to have the best performing longest lasting products on the market. It is always great answer the phone and talk with someone that has been using the same pair of cleats they got 10, 15 years ago. That is really what we strive for and what has kept us prosperous all of these years!”
Matt's hiking buddy...