Frontier Equipment, a new Distributor, is bringing some big name, innovative gear to the Outdoor Industry in Australia. Founded by Ben Ryan and Dean Orange, two long-time Outdoor Industry experts, Frontier Equipment recently signed on as the Australian distributor for Gregory Mountain Products. The official launch will be at the Snow & Outdoor Trade Association (SOTA) expo in Canberra on May 5-7. Gregory, founded in California in the 1970s, is known for their extensive range of innovative, ergonomic and comfortable backpacks. Frontier Equipment will also have Stanley, Alite Designs and f-stop gear on display.
Southern Ascent recently conducted an interview with Ben Ryan to get some further insight into the business, including their backgrounds, products and goals.
How did you get your start in the Outdoor Industry?
“My parents were both mountaineers and avid bushwalkers, and my Dad introduced me to rock climbing at 14 years old. I took to it with passion and quickly gave up other sports to focus more on climbing the local areas in New ZealanF, and competing in rock climbing competitions around the world. One of my sponsors offered me work in their business, which lead to another job, then another and so forth.
My business partner, Dean Orange, is still an active climber and started in the industry through outdoor retail, then moved into the wholesale side of the industry. Dean is not only an active climber and canyoner, but has also produced several local and international Rock Climbing movies.
We both have a passion for connecting people to the outdoors – it is one of the greatest benefits of living in a country like Australia as we have such an abundance of outdoor opportunities right on our doorstep.”
What experience do your key personnel have in the Outdoor Industry?
“All our staff come from within the industry and have worked in outdoor brands for many years. We have over 50+ years of outdoor industry experience within our key staff, including working with and for some of the largest brands in the industry.”
Why start a distributorship?
“The industry is changing rapidly, and now requires Distributors to have a much more comprehensive understanding of what drives consumers to LOVE products and brands. It is no longer enough simply to have product sitting in a warehouse, as there is plenty of access to products both within Australia and overseas.”
What is your philosophy in choosing products to distribute?
“Firstly, we look for brands that have a clear understanding of who they are, and what benefits they have to offer outdoor people. If the brand does not have a clear direction, then it will be impossible for us to introduce its products to the right consumers, and make a meaningful connection.
If we find a great brand that makes a great product – the final piece of the puzzle is to make sure we can work well the people on the other end of the phone. We are lucky to be working with some truly incredible people, and that makes it so much easier to enjoy working together.”
How do you plan to market the brands/products in Australia?
“That depends a lot on the brand and the strategy we agree upon with them. Each brand will require a tailored approach depending on the consumer and how they want to interact with the brand. For example, Gregory packs have an amazing fit so our goal would be to get people wearing the packs and feeling the difference a great designed backpack can make. Alite Designs is all about making outdoors fun and accessible for people that might not be so serious about backpacking.
Stanley is celebrating 100 years of making a great quality product. Most people will recognise the original vacuum bottle, but they might not know that the brand is going through an exciting period of innovation, and will be introducing some great new products that are more progressive and contemporary.”
Will you have access to the full product lines?
“Yes. In fact in the case of Stanley there are certain models/colours that are unique to Australia, so the product line offered here is expansive. In the case of Gregory we will have a large collection available in Australia including both the American collection as well as some styles that are produced specially for Asia-Pacific markets.”
Any specific products you want to highlight?
Stanley 100th Anniversary Vacuum Bottle; Gregory Z35 Backpack; Alite Designs Monarch Chair; F-Stop Designs Tilopa Pack and ICU camera units.
And finally, what is your long-term goal for Frontier Equipment?
“Our goal is to provide great products for great outdoor people. Working in the Outdoor Industry is a careful balance between selling products we love, and finding time to use them ourselves – so I don’t think we need to be the biggest Distributor in Australia to be happy, although if we do a great job then who knows what the future could look like.
One thing we definitely will not be doing is sub-standard product. If we don’t have absolute faith in the brand and the products they make, then we will not compromise our beliefs and sell something we don’t believe in.”
Based in Sydney, the brands Frontier Equipment represent will be available in specialty outdoor retail stores across Australia.
Featured Photos: Frontier Equipment, Gregory, F-Stop, Stanley and Alite Designs Media Images