Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Scott takes long-range view

Ketchum-based company has been hiring, despite slow economy


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Adam Greene, U.S. marketing manager for Scott Sports, shows part of the company’s winter softgoods line in the office’s showroom. Photo by Willy Cook

Job openings don't come around as often as they used to, but Ketchum-based Scott Sports has bucked the hiring trend.

"We as a company are continuing to grow globally," said U.S. Marketing Manager Adam Greene. "We've increased and strengthened our product categories."

And they've been hiring to support that expansion. In 2008-2009, Scott's Ketchum office employed slightly more than 50 people. Now, that number is in the mid-60s range. "We've added 12 people over the past few years," Greene said.

New hires include customer service representatives, information technology and marketing professionals and people in management positions.

"We're expanding in areas where we see opportunities to grow," he said.

The company has had a presence in the valley since its inception in 1958. Company operations focus on four divisions: bicycle, winter sports, motocross and footwear.

The company has hired in each of the divisions, and moved marketing and sales management positions from San Diego to Ketchum.

"We really wanted all our marketing and sales product management people to be in the same location," Greene said. "It's a synergy thing."

A greater push in marketing and web presence also has led to additional staff, he said.

That's not to say the company is immune from economic conditions.

"I don't think the economy is getting better," said Larry Morton, executive vice president of sales and marketing. "The economy is running into some problems."

He said retail sales had been up in December and January, but seem to be on the decline.

"It's not looking as good now," he said.

The investment in people, products and innovation, however, is part of the long-term strategy.

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Whether the company continues to hire depends on many factors, some outside of their control. Besides the global economy, conditions like weather play a role. One bad, or one stellar, snow season can have a large impact on retail sales, Morton said.

Increased interest in bicycling—from cruiser aficionados to road racers to alternative transportation advocates—is providing a lift to that product category, Greene said.

Ketchum: part of the brand, part of the draw

Despite the higher cost of living in a resort community, getting people to move here is not a tough sell, Morton said.

The pitch usually centers on the active lifestyle embraced by the community as well as the small town atmosphere. "People are attracted to small towns," he said.

The addition of employees, especially younger ones who bring families with them, enhances the community, Greene said.

"I enjoy seeing them integrate into the community," he said.

Although the city has seen some companies relocate, Scott has no plans to leave the area.

"It's part of our culture, part of the brand, that we wish to maintain," Greene said.

Finding the fit

Due to the requirements of some positions, Scott has had to hire from outside the area.

"It depends on the job, and if we're looking for a particular skill set," Greene said.

What he looks for in applicants are qualities many employers would want.

He cites industry experience as well as familiarity with and passion for the sports in which applicants would be involved. Other selling points for him are education, enthusiasm about the company and an outgoing nature.

"Have something to offer us," he said.

When the right hire is made, it's good for the candidate, good for the company and good for the community, he said.

"We have a lot of passionate people who are involved in sports they're passionate about," Greene said. "It makes for a fun, motivated and productive workplace."

Rebecca Meany: rmeany@mtexpress.com




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