Earlier this year I told you that we had partnered with LaunchSquad, an exclusive PR firm based in San Francisco. Their efforts have put KUIU in The Wall Street Journal, Outside Magazine, and this week, KUIU is featured in Bloomberg Business Week. Bloomberg recognized that KUIU is doing business differently: our consumer-direct, online business model allows us to offer the best available fabrics and technologies at a price that’s affordable for any mountain hunter. I set out for KUIU to be unique, and that took an unprecedented business model—one that’s paying off for our customers.
It’s because of all of you, our amazing customers, and your word-of-mouth marketing that KUIU has risen to this level of success so quickly. I can’t even begin to thank you for your overwhelming support. While our partnership with LaunchSquad is about increasing KUIU brand awareness throughout the United States, it’s also about increasing awareness about hunters, the hunting industry, and how hunting positively impacts conservation. You’ll see more of KUIU in the news that acknowledges exactly this—I’ll keep all of you posted once it hits the press.
From the very beginning I have used your input on new product ideas, designs, materials and features. This has allowed KUIU to push out one successful product after another. We continue to receive customer ideas and feedback that create new products and improve existing ones. It has been incredibly valuable and key to the success of KUIU.
For the past couple of years I have envisioned creating a new web-platform that streamlines this process so you may have more input down to the smallest details for new products. I wanted to create an IT backend that organizes and analyzes the data efficiently and comprehensively. With the goal, to make customer engagement during product development so efficient we create all of our products with you as part of our development team.
Last year I hired my brother away from large ecommerce retailer, where he was a program manager, to partner with me and realize this vision. Adam, who is crazy smart on IT solutions (definitely the smarter brother), has partnered with Vision Net, a leading ecommerce development firm, to create this new platform we call GIRU (pronounced gear-rue), which is a word-smith of gear and guru.
What we are creating, we believe, will redefine product development for business. GIRU will eliminate all the new product guesswork by involving customers in the process. Not any different than how we have built KUIU, but in a simple to use web-platform.
Those who join the product development team, by providing input on GIRU’s development projects, will be given the opportunity to pre-purchase the new products at a discount as a reward and receive them, before we release them to the public.
We will begin testing the GIRU.com beta-site later this month. Our goal is to release our first development projects this spring if everything goes as planned during testing.
We will be asking for a limited number of beta-testers to help us finalize the development of GIRU.com. As we get closer to beta testing, I will provide you a link to sign up. The number of beta-testers will be limited, so if you are interested, you will want to look for the announcement here on the blog. We will offer a reward to those who help us test and finalize the new site.
I am really excited to show you what we have created. I believe it will revolutionize business and I am excited to have you be a part of it.
I will keep you posted of the progress of GIRU.com here on the blog.
In August of this past year Brendan Burns and I were able to hunt Dall Sheep and Mountain Caribou in the Southern Mackenzie Mountains of Northwest Territories with Nahanni Butte Outfitters.
What made this adventure special was the finality of this opportunity in the particular area we would be hunting.
In 2009, Parks Canada passed an act to expand the existing Nahanni National Park Reserve from about 4,700 square kilometers to over 30,000 square kilometers encompassing the entire greater Nahanni River watershed.
The unfortunate casualty of the park expansion was a significant portion of Nahanni Butte Outfitters hunting concession would no longer be available for hunting. Although they would be retaining some of their top Dall Sheep hunting ranges for future operation, approximately 80% of Nahanni Butte’s area would now be off limits to hunting forever.
Nahanni Butte was the most significantly affected operation, but they weren’t the only ones. Several of the surrounding outfitters, including South Nahanni Outfitters, Ram Head Outfitters, and NWT Outfitters also lost large portions of their hunting areas. In the end, the park expansion had nothing to do with Dall sheep, outfitting, or the careful use of the resource by hunters over the last 40 years. It was a broad, sweeping decision that left some of those with the deepest roots to the area the most affected.
These remote areas encompass some of the most historic and iconic Dall sheep hunting grounds in North America. Since the inception of outfitting in these concessions, more than two thousand hunters have successfully harvested Dall rams. The “who’s who” of sheep hunting have put down boot leather chasing sheep in these mountains.
Nahanni Butte Outfitters and their new sister operation NWT Outfitters is operated by Jim Lancaster and Clay Lancaster. They have been hunting the NWT for the past 19 seasons. In that time, they have helped clients take more than 600 Dall rams, along with countless mountain goat, mountain caribou, and moose.
We had planned this hunt several years ago when we found out the park expansion was final. It created a sense of urgency to see the area before it was gone. Since booking the hunt we had discussed being the last hunters in one of their favorite areas. As the clock ticked closer, this hunt took on a deeper sense of anticipation than most. We were grateful to be able to hunt it, and sad to know it would be the only time.
Our guides on this hunt were Jeff Baher and Brady Lough. Jeff had been working at NBO since he was a teenager, and Brady for the last 3 years. You could not ask for better guys to spend time with chasing sheep.
Photographer Paul Bride and Videographer Justin Majeczky came along to document this great adventure.
In the end we were able to take two great old rams on a hunt neither of us will ever forget.
We hope you enjoy this glimpse into a beautiful and cherished area that will never again be hunted.
Secret Service Preparing to Sweep the meeting room.
Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. being interviewed by the Outdoor Channel before the meeting.
I am kicking off the meeting and introducing the Trumps.
Kirstyn and I with Mr. Trump
Over the past year I have had the pleasure to get to know and become friends with Donald Trump Jr after he reached out to me for gear recommendations for his Yukon Sheep hunt.
In getting to know Don and his brother Eric I have been impressed at how humble, respectful and down to earth they both are. It was not what I was expecting (no offense Don and Eric) knowing their upbringing in NYC. Hanging out with them is like being around any of my hunting buddies, truly just a couple of the guys.
Don and Eric were introduced to the outdoors at a very young age by their Grandfather who lived in Czechoslovakia, where he taught them how to fish and hunt small game and wild boar, which was his passion and now has become theirs. When they are not busy with work or family they are hunting or fishing or planning their next trip.
I was talking hunting with Don last month and asked him about his fathers position on hunting. I usually do not pay much attention to politics, but it is hard not to with his father on the news everyday. I assumed he is not a hunter and most politicians are too afraid of what every non-hunter will think to take a pro-hunting position, so I was interested to hear this, especially with all the negative press on hunting the past year.
“As you know Eric and I love hunting and fishing and because of this we are active in conservation and preserving our public land rights. My father has seen what a positive impact it has had on our lives and is absolutely pro-hunting and conservation for our wildlife, fisheries and lands. Like any good father, he supports his sons passion and is not afraid to take a stand for us”.
His answer surprised me as it may have you. I am sure most hunters do not know Donald Trump supports or has any interest in hunting. I asked to help spread this information to our 20 million Sportsmen.
With SHOT Show happening in Vegas last week I planned a meeting with the help of Don Peay of Sportsman’s for Wildlife and Lorenzo Sartini of GoHunt. We invited 40 CEO’s from leading brands from the Hunting Industry and Conservations Organizations to meet with Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump.
Messages spread stronger and faster from the top. It is why I brought everyone together. Every business leader from our meeting left with an entire different perspective on Donald Trump. Most have already reached back out this week to the Trumps and myself to offer help and support.
I have had many people ask me why I am getting KUIU involved in Politics? It is dangerous to pick a side because you will loose customers in doing so.
As I told them, I am not into politics, but I am into hunting, I am a hunter, it is who I am. I will back any candidate who is not afraid to have our backs in our fight for our heritage, conservation and our land rights no matter what the consequences.
It is my duty as a hunter and a father of children who love the outdoors, hunting and fishing to take a stand and fight for what we love.
Please tell every hunter you know that Trump has our backs. We cannot let this opportunity pass us by. Your vote matters. Use it to support our passion. This is the biggest opportunity since Teddy Roosevelt for the future of hunters and sportsman.
When I started KUIU I dreamed of a brand that focused only on what is truly best for the customer is every aspect of the business. I dreamed of creating the absolute finest products that I could possibly make regardless of cost. I dreamed of using the world’s most advanced technologies and materials to lower product weight to maximize our customer’s performance in the mountains. I dreamed of sharing everything with our customers so they would have complete trust and confidence in the products when facing the most challenging conditions in the world. And I dreamed of removing valueless retail mark up because it was the right thing to do for our customer.
I knew this dream could not be realized unless I changed the rules of business and it is this dream that created KUIU.
I worked with our amazingly talented Video Producer Blaise Douros to capture My Dream in a short video and I am excited and very proud to share it with all of you.
2015 was both a very challenging and a very rewarding year for KUIU. We continued to grow at an unprecedented rate in the United States, and grew exponentially internationally in Europe, Russia, New Zealand, and Australia. We have not supported most of these international markets with marketing or customer support. Demand has organically grown through word-of-mouth marketing from our customers. You have turned KUIU into a global brand in just over 4 years. Simply amazing.
With customer demand growing so strong globally, we have been challenged in all aspects of this business. In reaction, I made several significant investments to our infrastructure in 2015 that will benefit you in 2016 and years to come.
Most noticeably, we launched Phase 1 of our new Demandware based website in October, ahead of the holiday season. This upgrade and was critical, as you crashed our old site three times during the 2014 Black Friday Sale. Our new website stayed up during this years event, even though you wiped out our inventory in a matter of minutes. You will continue to see site enhancements throughout 2016 that will create an even more dynamic shopping experience as we move through our Phase II and Phase III site developments.
Demandware is the most advanced e-commerce platform in the world. Demandware selectively partners with leading brands such as Go-Pro, Mountain Hardware, Columbia, Tori Burch, Vineyard Vines, and now KUIU, their first hunting brand. The data and analytics Demandware brings to KUIU is mind blowing. This information has made us a smarter company overnight and allows us to significantly improve our ability to service our customers and anticipate future demand. Demandware will keep KUIU at the cutting edge of e-commerce. We are excited about how this partnership will benefit you in your experience with KUIU.
I keep wondering when the demand for KUIU will slow even a little. Backorders the first half of 2015 continued to grow at a rate that outpaced incoming shipments. As we ramped up into the hunting season, buying most key KUIU products was almost impossible if you did not place a backorder. In reaction we have made larger inventory purchases for 2016, trying to find the edge of the demand without over-purchasing and putting KUIU at risk. We are starting off 2016 with a 93% in-stock inventory level, the highest since launch.
Our unique, high-quality materials that make KUIU products so good come with long lead times. Unfortunately, inventory adjustments to increasing demand do not happen overnight. While inventory levels will improve in 2016, if we experience another exponential jump in global growth, inventory may become challenged later in the year. We always suggest planning ahead and buying what you need when it is available rather than waiting to order.
As KUIU continues to grow internationally, we have been working to find customer service solutions for our customers outside of the United States.
Shipments to Canada have become increasingly expensive with duties and taxes and the changing dollar exchange rate. We have been researching many different options to fix these problems, and are finalizing a partnership that will solve these challenges. Once this new partnership is up and running later this year, KUIU products will be able to be purchased in Canadian Dollars, with duties paid. There will be a Canadian address for returns, exchanges, warranty and repairs. Additionally, we will have a fulltime Canada-based KUIU employee to service our Canadian customers. Our goal is to make the KUIU experience as seamless in Canada as it is in the United States.
In the fall of 2013 we hired Jorge Amador to support and service our growing number of Spanish and European customers. Jorge has created incredible brand awareness in Europe and quadrupled our European sales in 2014. Due to Jorge’s success, we have recently hired Pedro Ampero to join Jorge’s team this March. Many of you may know Pedro from my blog post (Arctic Red 2012) and his photos on our site, as well as from his work with PSE. Pedro and Jorge will combine their efforts to continue to grow brand awareness in Europe and service our European customers and guides and outfitters.
To support our growing customer base in the South Pacific, we hired Shaun Allison from New Zealand in July of 2015. Brendan and I hunted with Shaun in 2013 (New Zealand, Southern Alps–Part I) and we have since become great friends. Shaun will continue to operate his guiding business, Exclusive Adventures New Zealand, and will work for KUIU in between hunts. Shaun has already proven his value to KUIU in his first six months with us, rapidly growing our customer base in New Zealand and Australia.
To further spread the KUIU brand on a national level, this past September I partnered with Launch Squad, an incredible San Francisco based public relations firm. The team at Launch Squad is impressive, having already placed KUIU in the Wall Street Journal and Outside Magazine. Launch Squad has several other national publications that I have interviewed with and are in the process of publishing articles covering KUIU, our products and the hunting industry.
KUIU will continue to push the boundaries on weight and performance with new products in 2016. Most of these new products will launch on KUIU Live and we will send out announcements here on the blog and on our social media outlets. There are some incredible new technologies and problem-solving products coming out this year—I’m looking forward to sharing them with all of you.
I want our customers more involved in the development of our products like I have done in the past here on the blog. Your insight helps us develop better products. The growth of KUIU has pulled me in so many different directions that I have gotten away from this collaboration. To better facilitate your direct involvement, I am working on a new product development platform that will simplify the process of efficiently gathering your feedback and ideas. I will announce more on this product development platform in the next few weeks.
I have big expectations for KUIU in 2016, and am confident that the new investments in our business will enable us to better serve you. Thank you for taking the time to read this long post—I had a lot to say, but it is important to me to keep you informed of the developments and improvements we are making here at KUIU.
I appreciate each one of you and your support of KUIU. You have given me the opportunity to chase my dreams and I recognize I could not have done it with out you. If there is ever anything I can do for you, please let me know.
I worked with author Kevin Helliker to write this article and am very excited to see our sport receive positive coverage in Main Stream Media. We do not normally receive coverage like this unless it is about something negative brought to press by anti-hunters.
I cannot thank Kevin Helliker or our PR partner Launch Squad enough for their efforts to make this happen.
Please forward this article to all of your friends. The more people that read it the easier it will be to get the next one written as it shows the WSJ how much interest there is in Hunting.
We are excited to share with you our 2016 Trade Show Schedule! Trade Shows provide shoppers a rare chance to touch, feel, try on, and ask in-person questions about everything that KUIU makes. We look forward to attending these shows and getting the chance to visit with many of our customers, old and new. While we have grown substantially since our first round of trade shows, we still recognize many of your names and enjoy the opportunity to put a face with them. Please stop by to check out our booth, introduce yourself, and ask questions or share a story. We look forward to seeing you.
Dallas Safari Club Convention
Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, Dallas, TX
January 7 – 10, 2016
Booths 954 & 1056
The Sheep Show Convention & Sporting Expo
Reno Sparks Convention Center, Reno, NV
January 21 – 23, 2016
Booths 219 & 216
Safari Club International
Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
February 3 – 6, 2016
Booths 2733 & (Second booth TBD, look for us near “World Wide Hunts”) Western Hunting & Conservation Expo
Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, UT
February 11 – 14, 2016
Booths 1134 & 1335
We will once again be traveling with Shaun Allison of Exclusive Adventures New Zealand, who will be accepting raffle tickets along the way for a chance to win a Tahr and Chamois hunt. Entries to the raffle (one per person) are free, and tickets will be handed out and submitted at the KUIU booth during each show on the schedule above. The winner will be announced via the Building KUIU blog after our last show. The winner of this hunt will receive:
1 on 1 professional guide service
Bull Tahr trophy fee
Buck Chamois trophy fee
Trophy field preparation
Group camping gear and meals
Oxbow Lodge accommodation and meals
Transfers from Queenstown Airport to Oxbow Lodge
Land transport costs during your stay
*The winner of the hunt giveaway may schedule his/her hunt with Exclusive Adventures New Zealand between May-August 2016. The giveaway does not include travel to and from Queenstown, NZ, any optional helicopter costs into the mountains, trophy preparation, or any additional trophy fees or guests. Other terms and conditions may apply.*
All items in the sections below are 25% off- Sale ends Sunday 12/20/2015
Time is running out to get your Christmas gifts in time for the big day. Place your orders ASAP, orders placed by December 16th with standard shipping and orders placed with overnight shipping by December 21st will arrive in time to be opened Christmas morning.
*Terms and Conditions. Sale Starts December 15th at 12:00am (PST) and ends 11:59pm (PST) December 20th 2015. Sale prices may not be used with any other special discounts or offers, and may not be applied to gift certificate purchases, previous purchases, backorders, or preorders. No promo code required. Sale does not apply to tax, is not redeemable for cash, and is void where prohibited by law.
To help choose a gift for a friend or loved one during this stressful holiday season, we compiled a list of gift ideas handpicked by KUIU’s staff. Starting tonight December 10th at midnight, these items will be offered at 25% off. Sale ends Sunday, December 13th. Items included in the sale are the Insulated Snap Shirt, KUIU Pro Mesh Back Hat, and KUIU Flask. To see these and the rest of the sale items, click the “Buy Now” button below.