Hello 2017! This year has started with some extreme weather in Bend, OR. So far we have been pounded by record snowfall and piercingly cold temperatures. It makes for amazing conditions at Bachelor and shoveling the seemingly endless snow helps to burn off the holiday beers/cookies!
Since I’m forced inside by the blizzard today, it seems like a good time to look back at 2016 and tell you all about some exciting developments for 2017.
2016 => Quick n’ Dirty, Lean n’ Mean
By all accounts, we had a fairly strong year. Some personnel changes early on forced Kevin and I to rethink the structure of the business and, born out of necessity, we retooled how our logistics work, and how they integrate with our systems. It was hard work but the result is a much leaner, efficient company. With our main focus being on making the company more efficient, we are still happy to say that we grew by roughly 40% and saw healthy increases across almost every sales channel.
2016 also saw us launch our new packaging for the shower products, which proved to be a bigger headache than we anticipated, but they have been well received and were well worth the effort. The new packaging sizes came from all the feedback and requests that we received from you, so thank you for speaking up! We know that we still have more work to do on new sizes and products but wanted to let you know that we ARE listening.
On the marketing side, we pulled back from our INSANE event schedule of 100+ events in 2015, and instead focused on larger triathlons and marathons that gave us more reach and exposure. We traveled farther away from our west coast ‘nest’ to promote at both Ironman North American Championships in St. George, UT and The Woodlands, TX, but still fit in some of our local favorites like the Sea Otter Classic, which was amazing as always. We hope to continue to grow our event reach to new regions and events as we love connecting with everyone before they push their bodies to their limits. Plus, we have to make sure you are all stocked up on the best sunscreen out there.
We were very fortunate to forge some incredible new relationships over the 2016 season and consider ourselves very lucky to work with such great teams and athletes. Our first year working with teams like Team Wattie Ink, Team Zoot and Team RIDE, among others, was amazing and we greatly enjoyed meeting so many new people that we are able to help support. It was also inspiring to see a number of Team Zealios athletes perform at the top of their game. Jesse Thomas won his 6th straight Wildflower Triathlon (sadly, he might be Wildflower’s final men’s champ), came away with an amazing victory at Ironman Lanzarote and competed in his first World Championship in Kona finishing 16th. Coming off of an amazing 2015, Heather Jackson collected a couple victories at Chattanooga and Coeur D’Alene 70.3’s, literally ran away with Ironman Lake Placid setting a new course record, and watching her will her way to a podium finish in Kona is something we won’t soon forget.
ACCELERATING WITH THE BEND OUTDOOR WORX
In the fall we accepted a place in the 4th cohort of the Bend Outdoor Worx (BOW) alongside two awesome companies, Fat Chance Bikes and Bosky Optics. To be honest, BOW really wasn’t on our radar until pretty late in the game. Kevin and I debated long and hard as to whether we were too far along in our journey to get value out of the program, not to mention it would mean Kevin would have to commit to some SERIOUS windshield time. In the end, we figured we owed it to ourselves to take advantage of the opportunity.
Joining BOW was probably the best decision we have ever made. As a result of the program, we feel a tremendous amount of organizational alignment and are SO excited for 2017. I’ll be writing a whole separate blog post on our experience with BOW and what we learned. So, if you are interested in that type of stuff….keep your eye out!
All in all, 2016 was an amazing year and we look forward to the challenges that await us in 2017. We are going to work hard to continue to grow Zealios and look forward to seeing you all out there and helping any way we can. Speaking of help, it’s about time we announce:
WELCOME ABOARD STACEY KIEFER!
Stacey atop Tumalo Mountain back when having snow was still fun.
This is a little late, I know….but since when are we diligent about announcements or blogging?
Stacey has spent her whole life in the swim industry and recently left Speedo, where she was the key accounts manager for the Western United States. Culturally, and professionally we knew instantly that she was a perfect fit. As we joke in the office: Stacey has forgotten more about the swim industry than Kevin and I have ever known.
Stacey is a born sales professional. True to her Wisconsin roots, she is naturally friendly, talkative, fearless, and fiercely competitive. We are incredibly proud to announce that Stacey Kiefer started as our Director of Sales in December. Kevin and I have been struggling to keep up with her ever since!
Yep, that’s right. Kevin and I have committed to our first “real” triathlon. We will be competing in the Lavaman triathlon in April in Kona, HI. We are competing in honor of our fallen rugby teammate Siegfried Kohl who lost his long and heroic battle to sarcoma last April. We will be joining a whole army of Sig’s friends, family, and rugby mates to raise money for charities dear to him. I’ll be writing a more detailed post on Sig and our experience leading up to Lavaman in later blog posts.
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2017
We have some exciting stuff on docket for 2017 that we will be announcing in due time. This year’s projects include some new packaging variations (which will make a lot of you very happy), more product development, and our first ever marketing campaign. We had a brainstorming session in December regarding our campaign and I left with my cheeks hurting from laughing so hard. So, we think you will enjoy it!
As a parting note, thank you so much for your support. We are so excited for 2017 and can’t wait to see you out there!!