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The Conference Room

Outdoors Brand Runs on Innovation

While many consumers cut recreational spending during the recession, Johnson Outdoors CEO Helen Johnson-Leipold says the company has had a great couple of years.

In this edition of Conference Room, Johnson-Leipold told FBN’s Jeff Flock that concentrating on improving the outdoor experience for customers has led the company to success.

“Our consumer is the enthusiast, and they have passion for the outdoors, and they don’t stop recreating when the economy is tough. And if you can create a product with innovation that makes the experience better, than they’ll spend the money and pay for the better experience,” says Johnson-Leipold.

Johnson-Leipold comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. Her family created Johnson Wax, and her father started the Johnson Outdoors business.

He was “very passionate about the outdoors and very passionate about these activities,” says Johnson-Leipold.

She says he was able to make the fledgling business a success by spotting great opportunities early, as with his purchase of the Old Town canoes brand.

“They had started looking at thermal forming, but they couldn’t make it work. And Dad knew he could make it work,” says Johnson-Leipold.

“He thought it was a great brand, and he could spot an innovation opportunity. So he bought the company with a handshake, and from there we basically created the plastic boat market,” she says.

Follow Gabrielle Karol on Twitter @GabrielleKarol