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Can You Help? UL/SUL
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Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Can You Help? UL/SUL on 04/17/2007 21:57:53 MDT Print View

Hello Everyone. Ron at MLD here.

I have an odd special request of anyone who would like to help.

One of the challenges for any small equipment company is sourcing the very best raw materials and then using them to make cutting edge LW and SUL gear.

A barrier that I’m sure many SUL companies (or really hard core DYI’ers) have run into is the cost of purchasing elite materials. Most major manufacturers only sell in large lots that require a lot of upfront cost. Often big companies are the only ones that can afford that. I very am bullish on the SUL market and feel that the best products will sell just fine to knowledgeable and quality savvy consumers. So, big upfront costs can be recouped and I do not need any help with that..

However, there is an even tougher barrier. Some fabric/hardware manufacturers will only sell their goods to a select equipment builders (Big Companies/ Cutting Edge Visionary Companies) that fit their larger marketing/branding goals. So, even if you have the funds, you are out. Of course, that can be good business for the supplier and I don’t begrudge them one bit.

SO, just because a smaller company has the funds, good designs and is willing to take the risk buying 5,000+ yds/units of something, the supplier may not want to sell.

I’ve recently run into a situation where a supplier wants a proposal from me on why they should sell me their item. I’ve got the funds, but they want to get a good feeling that their products will be used for good and not evil, that it helps their marketing position and that I’m reputable.

Since I can’t dazzle them with big multi million $ financials, plans for new production plants in China or Lexus freebies, I have to go at it a different way.

Part of my idea is to get you to help me sell them on selling to me. If I can get a good return from folks who want to say something good about MLD, the SUL consumer, and/or the UL/ SUL market, etc. that it could be a big help. I hope this is not seen as abuse of the BPL forum, but I’m betting my best chance with this particular supplier is to get your help.

SO, If you can help, send your letter in an email directly to me at
(let’s not jam up the BPL Forums with replies)

1: A 25 - 125 words note/letter about
- UL/ SUL products and consumers / industry direction from your point of view
- The buying nature & intelligence of those consumers as a group
- Anything positive about the SUL smaller cutting edge (cottage) industry in general
- Any fusion of the above or any thing you can think of. You do not even have to mention MLD for it to be helpful.

2: Any good reviews on MLD that are already out there on the web, if you could cut and paste the text (with the posters name/online name) of that to me in an email.

You may be wondering what products/supplier I may be talking about. Sorry, I can’t say or it could foul the process for me. Safe to say that any product with cutting edge materials I produce benefits the UL/SUL community at large by providing choice and maybe even influencing other/larger companies over time.

I will only use your letters as part of my effort with suppliers and not as any type of advertisement in anyway. You responses will not be published or shared with anyone other than as part of a supplier proposal.

Many Thanks,


Chris Jackson
(chris_jackson) - F
Re: symbiosis between mega-corporations and SUL cottage gear makers on 04/18/2007 22:15:55 MDT Print View

Ron, I know you asked people not to post replies here, but since this is in the Chaff section I'm going to post some tangentially related chaff anyway.

First, have you seen this article on why Timberland bought Golite? Although Timberland is a giant in the footwear industry, their market analysis indicated that the younger generation was not buying traditional brands such as Timberland. So they were faced with a choice; either start a new brand aimed at the youth market, or buy a brand with credibility in that market.

There are strong parallels with the UL market. The UL market is expanding fast, and most UL hikers do not buy much from traditional brands and stores such as TNF and REI, because the products are not sufficiently bleeding edge. Heck, a lot of UL'ers won't even consider Goretex, despite its strong branding, because they reckon that there are higher performance alternatives.

If a manufacturer's products are used by bleeding-edge companies such as MLD and BPL, then the manufacturer gains credibility in the UL market. A number of astute marketing departments have realised this. Witness the willingness of Polarguard to sell a special 1.8 oz formulation of Polarguard-Delta to BPL in relatively small amounts, and of Climashield to sell its products to Thru-Hiker. Both Polarguard and Climashield are brands owned by Western Non-Wovens, a very large company which does most of its business with other large companies such as TNF.

MLD's `Fabric Mojo' webpage is a Pantheon of high-performance fabrics, and manufacturers should be proud to be listed there.

Edited by chris_jackson on 04/18/2007 22:19:16 MDT.

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Letter sent on 04/22/2007 18:31:54 MDT Print View

I just sent you a letter through email.

I sure hope this product deal goes through for you!


Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Letter sent on 04/23/2007 18:59:39 MDT Print View

I sent mine too Ron. I've loved your stuff ever since I first discovered you on eBay way back when. Happy to help you progress with new Mountain Laurel Designs products.

Best of luck!

Mark Hurd
(markhurd) - M

Locale: South Texas
Letter Sent on 04/23/2007 21:24:30 MDT Print View

Count me in, Ron. I hope our letters help you out. (And by "you" I mean us, too.)