Capital Distribution recently hired Greg Osthus G.O. as its new national sales manager. A veteran from Gotcha and the person credited for making Gotcha’s MCD division what it is today, Osthus rounds out the already strong management team at Capital.

SNOWboarding Business recently headed up to the company’s corporate offices in San Juan Capistrano, California to meet with G.O., Capital Owner Vince de la Peña, and Royce Cancellor to hear a little more about what G.O. brings to their business.

What are you up to, G.O.?

G.O.: Royce wanted to deprogram me when I came over from MCD. Right now I’m splitting the territory with Matt Walls. He does L.A. north to Santa Barbara, and then I do L.A. south to the border.

That’s for all your brands?

Yes. For Kastel, Ezekiel, Blond, and Spare.

Royce Cancellor: One of the main reasons we brought G.O. in is unless you have really good customer service and a really good sales force, no matter how good your product is, you’ll never get anywhere. On the same token, no matter how good your sales force, if the product isn’t right you won’t get anywhere.

We spent 1997 fine-tuning the product, making sure we could ship on time, establishing our labels in their respective markets, and making sure product lines had their own niche-whether it be Ezekiel in clothing, Kastel as technical skate shoes, Blond as technical outerwear, or Spare as an entry-level, pricepoint outerwear.

Once we established the products, we realized we needed to have a sales force on the same level as the product. I started looking for someone that had the best connections relationship-wise across the country. That’s where G.O. came into the picture. In order to maximize our brands we need to have someone who’s constantly traveling with the reps who’s at a higher management level. G.O.’s day-to-day job is traveling with the reps throughout the country. Brad Kingsley, who’s been with the brand since inception, will be a sales manager in-house. I will oversee both of them.

So if you look at our structure, we offer the retailer a more service-oriented structure than any company I know of. We have a sales rep and in-house customer service/telemarketer who’s available and knows each account in his respective territory.

Will he be working in-house for the entire nation?

Cancellor:A retailer at any given time can pick up a phone and if they can’t get the rep they can get the in-house guy. If they can’t get the in-house guy, they can get Kingsley. If they can’t get Kingsley, they can get me or G.O.

We thought the best way to deprogram him from MCD and Gotcha was to go out on the road and sell to every account from the size of a Doheney Boardride in Capo Beach all the way up to a Sun Diego or a Becker. So G.O.’s literally pushing the rack around in Orange and San Diego Counties until the holidays so that he knows from the ground up exactly the personalities of each of our accounts.

What’s the difference between Spare and Blond?

Cancellor: Spare and Blond have realized since their inception that Burton pretty much controls the middle of the snow market. And as the bigger labels come in, we realized an opportunity existed for us in the entry-level end of the market and also in the high-end.

We introduced Spare as a targeted product line that provides a consumer who may go to the hill five to ten times a year, a jacket and pants for 250 to 280 dollars.

Blond is designed for the guy who knows what he wants and is willing to pay for it. Blond utilizes better fabrics and is made in the same factory that produces Helly Hansen. We don’t compromise any of the features. All the jackets have features like zip-out powder skirts, pit zips, venting systems, articulated elbows, and all the things a guy who’s really on the hill is going to look for.

Is the distribution for Blond and for Spare different or the same?

Cancellor: The distribution for Spare and Blond ar’t really different. A lot of the Southern California accounts tend to be drawn toward Spare because it gives them good value.

In the Northeast, a lot of people are more drawn to Blond because it’s more suitable for the colder weather climates. In Canada, Blond sells better than Spare. They both address a market and most of our retailers chose to carry both brands.

What are your long-term goals for the snowboarding brands?

Cancellor: If we were in the snowboarding business for financial rewards, we would have dropped the snow program years ago. The personnel of this company live, eat, and breath snow and we all love the sport. I think that’s indicative of the fact that we’ve been around as long as we have.

Blond and Spare were some of the first labels to embrace snowboarding when it first came out. Because we have legitimate product and we serve a legitimate market, we don’t really sell accounts that have jumped on the bandwagon towards the end and are going to be some of the first ones off. We feel that we have the ability to outride the storm and when the dust settles, we’ll be standing with legitimate brands that produce a good product and serve a strong specialty store market.

We’re fortunate that the strength of Kastel and Ezekiel over the last couple years has helped support Spare and Blond.

How has the consolidation affected you?

Vince De La Peña: I think the biggest obstacles were overcome when we brought in Royce. He’s taken us leaps and bounds forward in terms of organization. And one of the major benefits has been product manufacturing. The product has gotten so much better with Royce’s new manufacturing sources.

So, during the consolidation you strengthened the brand?

de la Peña: Exactly. The market is going to see some of the benefits of our new manufacturing. Alex de la Peña has always designed a new product but sometimes some of our mistakes have maybe eaten that up. But Alex designed a great line and hopefully it’ll come to fruition with the product manufacturing end.

Over the years you’re able to see the product identity come alive. With the Blond advertising there’s definitely a good identity-the design and the marketing really go hand in hand.

With the consolidation of the industry comes the consolidation of the product line. And the good thing about Spare and Blond is that they both have unique personalities and both lines are tight. When you look at it, the Blond line has three heavy jackets, two jackets with unique venting systems, a wind breaker, and three styles of pants. It’s not a huge line. One of the refreshing things for a buyer when he looks at the Blond line is it’s really easy to understand what the purpose of each garment is designed for. So it’s an easy line to buy, it’s an easy line to merchandise, and it has its own unique look. It definitely has a customer and a following.

With the consolidation and the line getting tighter as far as production and ship dates, it’s going to help us become more efficient.

Cancellor: As with the surf industry, there’re a lot of almost incestuous relationships in the snow industry and there’re several product lines that if you removed the labels from the garments, put them in a bag and shook them up, and relabeled the garments, no one would really know the difference. Spare garments and Blond garments in particular are easily identifiable from a distance. Whether it be through the color blocking and the design or the color combinations.

What do you see G.O. bringing to the table?

de la Peña: One of the things I like about Greg is he has a great personality. Obviously with that comes the relationships and that’s one of the things I’m really excited about. He definitely has a voice and he’s going to be heard. All of us are anxious to hear any input he has, mainly because of the way he communicates it. He’s a good manager from what we’ve seen and I think everyone here is excited to work with him.

We know his relationships are going to play a major key. There’re very few people out there right now who know how to communicate to a retailer.

The killer part about it is when you have a good relationship with the retailer, the more honest the answers, and the more honest the retailer’s going to be. You get better information and better feedback. When the retailer doesn’t have a good relationship with the rep, they’re just telling them, “Yeah, the stuff’s doing good,” and really broad strokes.

G.O. brings a maturity that we need as a company, yet he embraces the youth. And it’s a winning combination. He’s inspired just as I was when I came here by the freshness and how naive these guys are because they haven’t been there and done that. Whereas G.O. and I have been with enough people that we know the right way to do things and we’ve seen the wrong way to do things.

One of G.O.’s strengths is rather than be a salesman who does all the talking and tells the retailer how it is, he listens, he has a big ear. G.O. has always been able to hear what the retailer has to say and he’s very diplomatic.

We used to make a lot of jokes about people being in the glass house too much. G.O. has the ability to take what he hears on the road and bring it in here and communicate it to the merchandisers, to the designers, to the sales people in a way that portrays to them what the actual facts are without dampening their spirit with any negativity. The leaps and bounds Capital Distribution has made in the last few months are incredible. To have the kind of growth that we’ve had with Ezekiel-70 percent growth for a men’s clothing line in 1998, in a year when men’s clothing as a category is one of the softest in the store-is incredible.

It has style, it has marketing, it’s got athletes. It’s definitely that new-school way of doing things, and that’s why I think the potential here is unlimited.

I’ve been at companies where the quality of human being is not that good. The quality of human being here is insane.re is excited to work with him.

We know his relationships are going to play a major key. There’re very few people out there right now who know how to communicate to a retailer.

The killer part about it is when you have a good relationship with the retailer, the more honest the answers, and the more honest the retailer’s going to be. You get better information and better feedback. When the retailer doesn’t have a good relationship with the rep, they’re just telling them, “Yeah, the stuff’s doing good,” and really broad strokes.

G.O. brings a maturity that we need as a company, yet he embraces the youth. And it’s a winning combination. He’s inspired just as I was when I came here by the freshness and how naive these guys are because they haven’t been there and done that. Whereas G.O. and I have been with enough people that we know the right way to do things and we’ve seen the wrong way to do things.

One of G.O.’s strengths is rather than be a salesman who does all the talking and tells the retailer how it is, he listens, he has a big ear. G.O. has always been able to hear what the retailer has to say and he’s very diplomatic.

We used to make a lot of jokes about people being in the glass house too much. G.O. has the ability to take what he hears on the road and bring it in here and communicate it to the merchandisers, to the designers, to the sales people in a way that portrays to them what the actual facts are without dampening their spirit with any negativity. The leaps and bounds Capital Distribution has made in the last few months are incredible. To have the kind of growth that we’ve had with Ezekiel-70 percent growth for a men’s clothing line in 1998, in a year when men’s clothing as a category is one of the softest in the store-is incredible.

It has style, it has marketing, it’s got athletes. It’s definitely that new-school way of doing things, and that’s why I think the potential here is unlimited.

I’ve been at companies where the quality of human being is not that good. The quality of human being here is insane.