Catching Up with Oboz’s Amy Beck
The Brand’s New President Is Listening.
Amy Beck is starting to settle in.
Beck, an outdoor industry veteran who took over the top spot at Bozeman, MT-based Oboz Footwear on April 1, is entering the summer show season with a mission. She’s the first person to serve as president of the brand beside founder John Connelly, and she’ll be leading the firm as it further integrates into New Zealand-based Kathmandu Holdings Ltd, which acquired Oboz last year. Beck says she’s committed to nurturing all the qualities that have let Oboz take a dominant share in outdoor and specialty independents over the past 12 years, even as the brand explores new opportunities.
“I’ll be hitting the road here in the next couple of weeks. It’s my intention to visit with everybody we do business with in the first year,” she said, mirroring Connelly, who will continue to be involved with the brand and who has made visiting every retailer who carried the brand yearly a habit. “I’ve been doing business with these people for a very long time and they know me and what I’m bringing to the table. Those longstanding relationships are really important to me. That’s why I’m in the business.”
Beck got to know the outdoor industry in depth at Smartwool, where she served as VP of Sales and Marketing — and where, she said, she got a front row seat to the acquisition process.
“That’s another component I can bring to the table here with Oboz, helping navigate change and ownership and being part of a bigger entity and what that looks like,” she said. “Kathmandu is interested in learning from us as much as we’re interested in learning from them, so I think it’s a really mutual partnership.”
In addition to her time at Smartwool, Beck worked at VFC’s former women’s brand and retail operation Lucy (now a part of The North Face) and Waypoint Outdoor, and as the brand manager for Smartwool at REI.
“I’ve been doing business with these people for a very long time and they know me and what I’m bringing to the table.”
“It’s rare to meet someone who’s had that many different roles within the industry, and her knowledge of retail means she has the ability to support retailers better,” said Betsy Bertram, brand manager for Carrboro, NC-based Townsend Bertram & Co. Adventure Outfitters. “She doesn’t shy away from difficult conversations, and she’s a leader in our industry dedicated to being part of the solution to some of the bigger challenges facing our industry. I’m personally excited that she’s heading a brand we carry.”
Of her new role, Beck says, “This was a [chance] to actually use everything I had learned over the years, and [be a part of] this brand that’s built its tenets on service and quality and specialty retail and all the things I really believe in — and to get back to the mountains and join an awesome, growing community.”
Beck said she’s still “listening and learning” as she starts to think about strategy. The Grassroots and Outdoor Retailer trade shows, she said, will be critical not only for meeting with retailers and business partners, but in hearing more from the industry about current issues like tariffs, the inclusion and diversity measures being promoted and in advocacy and the protection of public lands and wild spaces. (As a member of the board of the Conservation Alliance, Beck said, the last issue is especially personal to her.)
“This is the most critical time for us all to come together and make one giant impact as an industry,” she said.
But in the meantime, Beck said, she’s doing her listening close to home.
“I’ve set it up where I’m meeting with every employee individually, and they get to pick what we do in Bozeman: If they want to show me a new hike or take me to a restaurant or their favorite place in town or a bike ride, whatever it is, they get to pick,” she said. “I’ve been on, let’s see, two hikes, a breakfast, a couple of lunches and a little adventure to a new market. I’m digging it.”