Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Smith Optics announces plans to leave

Location study calls for transfer to 3 U.S. locations

Express Staff Writer

    The rumors surrounding intensely private snow-gear and eyewear company Smith Optics turned out to be true. The Ketchum-based company is relocating its design headquarters to Portland, Ore., over the first half of 2015.
    The news came in an announcement from Smith’s parent company on Monday afternoon.
    Smaller groups of Smith employees will have the option of relocating to Clearfield, Utah, or Parsippany, N.J., over the next three years. Operations locally “should wind down by the end of 2018,” according to Smith’s Chief Financial Officer Ron Hayes, but there is no official exit date confirmed.
    Some 35 employees will be relocated to a new design center in Portland, and another 40 will be split between manufacturing and distribution in Clearfield during the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 and “back office” functions in Parsippany. Informational technology, human resources and finance positions will move during 2017-2018. There are approximately 85 Smith employees currently working in Ketchum—the 10 positions unaccounted for are salespeople, who will be distributed potentially throughout the three new locations.
    Smith’s parent company, Italian eyewear corporation Safilo Group, made internal changes to its global presence when Swiss-born Luisa Delgado took over as CEO last year. She was in Ketchum on Monday to discuss the transition with employees and members of the community.
    Safilo is the oldest eyewear company in Europe, and probably the world, Delgado said. It carries 30 brands, 25 licensed brands and five proprietary brands, of which Smith is one, she said.
    Delgado said when Safilo acquired Smith in 1996, plans to expand the company did not materialize.
    “The thought at the time was that Smith would become a global sports and outdoor brand and would somehow be managed as part of the total Safilo company,” she said. ‘This never quite happened.”
    Getting organized to go global, Delgado said, meant integrating Smith with its mother company. She put together a task force to study the potential of Smith, including top management employees here in Ketchum, in the dialogue.
    “We truly believe that Smith could be delighting consumers and tribes across the world, yet it’s barely available [globally],” she said. “Therefore, we have put together a 2020 plan to really go global with Smith.”
    By 2020, Delgado says, Safilo Group predicts Smith could more than double in size, provided it expands into international markets from its currently narrow sportswear distribution channels.  
    For the national design headquarters, a month-and-a-half-long location study done by Mercer Group presented data from seven Western U.S. cities—the west part of the country embodies the trend-setting, outdoorsy vibe that Smith will continue to manifest, Delgado said. Cities studied included Ketchum, San Jose, Seattle and San Francisco, Hayes said.
    Safilo went with Portland because of the proximity to the outdoors and a major airport, talent and labor force available and access to marketing and key consulting firms, the company indicated. The official headquarters of Smith will cease to exist, Delgado said, and Smith will be managed as a brand out of Safilo’s Italian office. Delgado said Safilo wants to utilize Portland for other brands under its umbrella.
    “That’s where the synergy comes from,” she said. “Being one company with multiple brands rather than a one-brand company.”
    Delgado said Safilo’s company principles dictate equitable treatment of employees during the transition. Safilo has a strong North American presence, she said, and the company will make every effort to move employees without transferable positions into an opening somewhere in the country.
    “Only if the person doesn’t want to move or we cannot find an alternative position, we will be forced to make people redundant and pay them a severance package,” she said. “Treating our employees with respect and care in this transition is very important to us.”
    Hayes and Delgado recognized Ketchum’s important role as the birthplace of Dr. Bob Smith’s ski goggle some five decades earlier. Delgado said Safilo is working with Wood River Valley municipalities to find a way of paying homage to Smith’s local ties.  
    “We are excited about new opportunities, [but there’s] always a little bit of sadness when you have to let something go,” Hayes said.     
Amy Busek:

About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.