Last month, Outfitting Manufacturing was acquired by Monarch Crest Capital, Inc., a group led by Colorado entrepreneur, Scott Mavis. When we get word of a truck camper manufacturer being sold, we often get an uneasy feeling, especially when a big corporation is involved in the buyout. What usually ends up happening is a shutdown after big corporate “bean counters” get involved who become overly fixated with the bottom line and not with the unique product. This is exactly what happened when Thor Industries shut down Livin’ Lite last year. Fortunately, a big corporation wasn’t involved with the Outfitter acquisition last month. Scott Mavis is an avid outdoorsman who intends on carrying out former owner Brian Ward’s original vision of building a family owned, factory-direct, quality pop-up camper. We recently spoke with Scott to learn more about the acquisition, himself, and his vision for the company.
TCA: Congratulations, Scott, on the acquisition of Outfitter Manufacturing. How did the purchase come about?
Scott Mavis: Thanks! I’m really excited about the future for Outfitter and particularly for our ever-growing group of Outfitter customers.
Ultimately, I had come to a point in my life and career where I wanted to get back to my entrepreneurial roots and build a brand and company for the long-term. So I put together a small group of a like-minded investors for the sole purpose of acquiring a company that I would manage. The RV space has always been attractive to me, not only personally as an active camper and outdoors person, but ultimately as an investor. And the prospect of Outfitter was a great match. With nearly 60 years of RV and truck camper manufacturing heritage in the Ward family, the company has a strong foundation in product and quality. But my partners and I quickly identified that Outfitter could really benefit from a concentrated product development, sales, marketing and operations strategy, which are the strengths of our collective backgrounds. So I approached Brian Ward last August and we were ultimately able to finalize the acquisition on January 1, 2019.
TCA: Tell us a bit about yourself? Do you have any experience in the truck camper industry?
Scott Mavis: Professionally, my background, and those of my partners, are within the Outdoor Recreation industry, so not specifically truck campers. But I’ve always had a passion for camping and outdoor recreation which is what ultimately led me to Outfitter. Early in my career, I was one of the first people hired by the founders of a new snowboard company called Ride Snowboards. As a startup, and during my 20+ year tenure at Ride, I was exposed to all aspects of the business, and at points was responsible for everything from sales, marketing, product development, operations, customer service, and even spent a couple of years as an expat founding a sales and marketing office in Europe. We grew the business, took the company public, and ultimately sold the company to K2 Sports in late 1999, where I remained on as Vice President of Global Marketing until 2013.
As time grew with K2, I found myself traveling further and further down the rabbit hole of corporate bureaucracy, particularly after K2’s acquisition by Jarden, and I really longed to get back to being more hands on and entrepreneurial with a brand and company. So after leaving K2, I linked up with a good friend who had recently launched a new and innovative pickup truck bed storage system called DECKED where I helped develop their ongoing brand strategy. In 2016, I joined an ingredient brand in the Outdoor Recreation space called Boa Technology, which is what ultimately brought me and my family to Denver. At Boa, I led a team that executed a full-fledged rebrand of the company to better speak directly to consumers rather than through their hundreds of global brand partners. But, in the end, the private equity backed organization of the company still did not afford the entrepreneurial freedom and hands on approach that I was looking to get back to. So I began developing the strategy and investor group to acquire a business that I could be truly passionate about and manage day-to-day, which brings us full circle to Outfitter Manufacturing.
From a personal standpoint, I love working with my hands and am constantly busy building or fixing things. My wife is a product manager and designer for a snowboard outerwear company and we have two girls, 7 and 10. As a family, we’re pretty active, spending most weekends in the winter time snowboarding and skiing and in the summer time camping and riding motocross. Up until now, we had towed a toy hauler with us pretty much everywhere we went, but it became increasing frustrating not being able to access the backcountry terrain that we wanted to ride, and at one point, quite literally, almost got trapped in a very narrow canyon because the trailer was simply too long to negotiate a turn in such a tight space without dragging it along a cliff face… which really got me dreaming about pop-up truck campers!
TCA: What are your immediate plans for the company? Will you be offering the same model campers as those being offered in the past?
Scott Mavis: I have always loved immersing myself in the consumer mindset, engaging with them, developing products specifically for them, and really speaking to them on the level of a passionate user. And as a custom pop-up truck camper manufacturer, that approach translates extremely well at Outfitter. For me, the opportunity at Outfitter is continuing to work closely with our customers to design and build a pop-up truck camper that allows them to amplify their active lifestyles and passions, whether they be a fisherman, mountain biker, kayaker, backpacker, skier, rock climber, overlander, or simply just a weekend traveler. With that, it’s important that the company develop an active brand voice and new product platforms that speak directly to our customers on that level. In the short-term, we will continue to offer the same models as those being offered in the past, like the feature-packed Apex with it’s True Composite Foam Core Body and Roof, and the lightweight, game-changing Caribou Lite. But the goal is to rapidly develop a long-term product development strategy in order to continue to bring innovative products, trends, and features to market that better allow our customers to enjoy their active outdoor passions. Initially that means modernizing the brand, product, and manufacturing processes, capabilities, and capacities, which we’ve been busy beginning to implement.
TCA: Will your workforce and location be changing in any way?
Scott Mavis: No. Our location, just north of Denver, will not change and neither will our workforce. The manufacturing team has literally decades of knowledge and experience in building some of the best, award-winning truck campers on the market, and that’s a competitive advantage that I want to maintain and build upon. If anything, we’ll be looking to add strategic positions to the team in the near term in order to better allow us to achieve our short and long-term strategies.
TCA: Do you have any changes planned in how your campers are constructed? What about quality control?
Scott Mavis: Absolutely. One of the aspects to modernizing the brand and product is by adopting better manufacturing methods and processes and by evaluating and testing new and better materials and parts. I’m looking at every aspect of the process from design to material selection and sourcing to manufacturing and ultimately quality control. This will be an ongoing mission of the company and I expect our customers to see the benefits of that process in the months and years to come.
TCA: In the past, Outfitter truck campers were sold factory direct. Are there any plans to sell Outfitter truck campers through dealerships?
Scott Mavis: I really enjoy working directly with our customers to custom build a camper that best suits their needs and passions. So, I definitely see us continuing that factory-direct relationship with the customer. By doing so, from the customer’s perspective, we’re able to remain extremely feature rich and cost-effective.
TCA: Are there any plans to change the company’s warranty period?
Scott Mavis: I want our customers to have confidence in their truck camper purchase and to know up front that they’ve made the right decision. Currently, we offer a limited warranty for one year on appliances and equipment we install including plumbing, electrical, and all workmanship. We further stand by our quality by offering a lifetime warranty for our aluminum structures. Will it change in the future? I believe we are competitive with the market currently, so I don’t see it changing in the short-term. But as we continue to develop our product platforms and manufacturing processes into the future, I will continue to evaluate the term of our warranties so that we can further instill consumer confidence in Outfitter.
TCA: How does one go about scheduling a factory tour?
Scott Mavis: We’d be happy to schedule a visit and show our facility and process. You can either contact us by e-mail through our website, outfittermfg.com, or simply give us a call at 970-535-9421.
TCA: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about the company and the acquisition?
Scott Mavis: We’ve got some great plans in store for the brand, our truck campers, and our customers, and I’m excited to bring them to fruition in the coming months, so stay tuned!
Congratulations to Scott Mavis and MCC, Inc. on the purchase of Outfitter, Inc. I look forward to seeing how the purchase works out with what is happening in our economy at the moment. Mr. Mavis sounds like he may have a background to make the transition a successful endeavor.
One thing that strikes me as a “typical” strategy, in that the question asked by TCA, was “will there be any changes to the warranty structure”, Mr. Mavis’s reply was that the warranty went along with the industry norm. That mindset is what I perceive to be the bane of all accusitions, these days. I believe to be a step “ahead” of the industry, is to be better than the industry norm. Just my 2 cents, on that issue. Otherwise, a great interview with Mr. Mavis and the “new” Outfitter team. Semper-fi & This We’ll Defend, Mike