Business

Bellingham manufacturer gearing up for change

Sarah Threet boxes products to be shipped at Gear Aid on Wednesday in Bellingham. The company recently changed its name from McNett Corp. and hired a new company president, Clark Campbell.
Sarah Threet boxes products to be shipped at Gear Aid on Wednesday in Bellingham. The company recently changed its name from McNett Corp. and hired a new company president, Clark Campbell. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

A local manufacturer of outdoor gear is going through plenty of changes, aiming for more growth.

McNett Corp. recently changed its name to Gear Aid Inc. and hired Clark Campbell as its new president. It is part of a transformation at the company, which started as a family-owned operation before being sold to the family-owned Coghlan’s Ltd. of Winnipeg in October 2015.

Gear Aid also has launched new products in the past year, including a series of LED lights, to go along with its longtime core repair and replacement products for outdoor gear. Those repair products include tape, glue and patches for things such as Gore-Tex fabric tears, water gear and shoes.

Campbell’s first day at the facility was Wednesday, and he said he’s excited about taking this company through its transition, balancing what made the business successful with some new ideas.

I have a lot of respect for a company that’s stayed profitable for 35 years; I want to grow on that. My job is to help this team continue to be great.

Clark Campbell, president of Gear Aid.

“I have a lot of respect for a company that’s stayed profitable for 35 years; I want to grow on that,” Campbell said. “My job is to help this team continue to be great.”

Making and shipping products is a big part of the Bellingham facility, located in the Haskell Business Park. With tens of thousands of items shipped out each month, Gear Aid’s products land at stores around the world. Locally the products can be found in several places, including REI, Hardware Sales, Yeager’s Sporting Goods and Backcountry Essentials. Gear Aid also has started selling its products on its website, hoping to cater to customers who don’t live near a store that sells the products or who need something at the last minute, said Jake Treichel, warehouse manager.

The name change was done in part to consolidate Gear Aid brands, said Cheriss Faiola, marketing manager at the company, which has about 45 employees.

Campbell, who moved to Bellingham from Seattle, said he won’t be relocating the company.

“Nobody comes here (to Bellingham) wanting to move,” Campbell said, adding that he has family in the area. “I feel I’ve lucked out by being in a company like this and being in this community.”

Campbell said the outdoor equipment industry has grown in recent years but may be reaching a saturation point, so Gear Aid needs to explain its brand well. While online purchases continue to grow, brick-and-mortar retailers that have survived know that having experienced workers who can explain the products attracts customers to their stores. No amount of online reading can substitute for that, he said.

“A lot of people still want to touch it and talk about it before buying,” Campbell said.

With that in mind, he expects to see growth in Gear Aid as the company enters new markets associated with Coghlan’s and the new brand catches on. More product development is expected in the coming months, too.

“This is a passionate team that we have here, and that makes my job easier,” Campbell said.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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