CamelBak Responds to the Vista Boycott

CamelBak Responds to the Vista Boycott

CamelBak, one of the companies owned by publicly traded Vista Outdoor has issued a statement regarding the recent call to boycott its products.

Their statement:

Our Commitment

As you may know, in the wake of the recent tragic shooting at a Florida school, there have been calls on social media for a boycott of CamelBak products because of its association with Vista Outdoor, a company that also owns separate businesses in the shooting sports industry. A major concern for the boycott centers around the incorrect assumption that the purchase of any of our products may support a cause that does not fit the mission/values of our brand. That is not the case. Our brand falls within the Outdoor Products segment of our company, which operates separately from Vista Outdoor’s Shooting Sports segment. Since 1989, CamelBak has been committed to forever changing the way people hydrate and perform. Our passion and love for the outdoors is unchanged. We are deeply committed to the individuals and communities we serve and we proudly partner with organizations to promote the enjoyment of the outdoors.

We recognize, support and respect the right of every individual to decide for themselves what brands they will purchase based on whatever criteria they believe are important. As we drive to make positive change, it is our hope that you stand by our nearly 30-year reputation as we maintain our promise to obsess on what we make, how we make it, and the way it impacts people’s lives and the environment.

What’s important to note here is how Vista Outdoor’s business divisions are siloed. I asked for and received clarification on this point. Profits from the Outdoor Products division are not mixed in with profits from Vista Outdoor’s Shooting Sports division. They remain separate. That means that no matter what happens to the revenue of the Outdoor Products division, the funding that goes into lobbying on behalf of the Shooting Sports division doesn’t come from brands like Giro, Bell, Blackburn and CamelBak. Everyone could stop buying all CamelBak packs tomorrow and it wouldn’t change what Vista Outdoor spends on lobbying for its Shooting Sports division.

Another point worth clarifying is that while it’s been claimed that Vista Outdoor supports the NRA to the tune of $500K/yr., that’s not accurate. In 2017, they spent a total of $514K on all lobbying. The vast majority of that did not go to the NRA. Further, in looking at some of the legislation they lobbied for, like better gun education and training, some of their positions are pretty easy to endorse.

To give you some scope of the independence with which each company is allowed to operate, consider that CamelBak is not a sponsor of Giro’s Grinduro—an event that CamelBak’s marketing team would like to support. If Vista Outdoor wanted to use each of their brands to reinforce the other, Kleen Kanteen and Fabric wouldn’t be sponsors of Grinduro.

The bottom line is simple: Anyone who chooses not to do business with the bike brands owned by Vista Outdoor will really only serve to hurt those brands and the retailers invested in them.

One final point regarding RKP’s position on this: CamelBak isn’t an advertiser, and has never been an advertiser and this effort is undertaken not to garner advertising, but simply because we care for the community that is the bike industry.

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  1. Steve Courtright

    I appreciate this clarification. This sounds more than an accounting technicality how the profits are handled, and thus I am willing to support these brands. That doesn’t stop me from wishing that there was still more separation.

    There are a group of people profiting from both “camps,” if that is a useful way of thinking. Probably it’s an oversimplification or just plain simple-mindedness. I certainly acknowledge that life rarely is so clear cut as I would like it and maybe I have to be okay with supporting companies that contribute to cycling, even if it’s not a perfect scenario.

    I would be a liar if I said that I have gone through my retirement portfolio and culled out every company that ever polluted, or lied to consumers, or behaved “badly” in some form or another according to my standards. So, I won’t cast the first stone.

  2. Grego

    Thank you, from a concerned customer who likes to have as much information as possible, for reporting on this issue.

  3. AC

    I am a strong second amendment supporter and NRA member, but still have to say Camelbak’s response is not exactly correct. They are owned by a parent company. That parent owns other stuff that Camelbak may have nothing to do with as a division. Their profitability flows to the parent though, and once there, funds are commingled and the parent makes capital allocation decisions. So if you were inclined to boycott (still silly IMO), your rationale still holds true. Of course it also holds true that if you currently own a Bell, Giro or Camelbak product, it might have been subsidized by gun profits, rather than you subsiding them. You’d have to take a deep dive into their financials to get more clarity.

    I will stick to boycotting ebike makers. I wish we saw this much concern from the bike industry over car violence.

    1. Author

      I’m not at liberty to say how I know this, but the bike companies owned by Vista have seen the resources they can put into things like R&D and marketing drop since the purchase. Guns have not subsidized them; their revenue has been used to bolster Vista at the corporate level. In other news, it is disappointing to see someone say that a company’s statement on a hot-button issue is a lie. We can at least agree that all cyclists ought to be doing more to bring attention to the issue of car crashes.

    2. AC

      I didn’t say it was a lie (I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming the PR drafter isn’t a financial expert and is not attempting to knowingly mislead). I said it’s not exactly correct. You basically confirmed that. If funds return to the parent, they are then commingled with other funds. If, as you state, Camelbak funds bolster Vista at the corporate (parent) level, and that parent also has reinvested funds in a different division, then the Camelbak funds are helping to finance that division. This is very common in big companies, its why they diversify into different product lines. Check their annual financial statements and look for a breakdown called segment reporting. It might have detail by business line.

      It’s disappointing to see anyone accept any company statement on any topic without some critical analysis on its accuracy. With all due respect, I think you’re letting your political views influence your journalistic integrity. Company statements should never be blindly accepted.

    3. TT

      I agree with AC. A parent co. that wholly or even fractionally owns another company will consolidate all or a respective percentage of ownership of the profits that co. makes. Camelbak’s statement is not incorrect in that they operate separately from the other divisions but it also gives no indication on how the profits which ultimately roll up to the owners (in this case Vista Outdoor) get used. They probably do not have insight into that.

      Separately, your comment on bike companies having resources taken away seems like a move to make the co. more profitable by possibly managing expenses. Once again, if the reduction in resources is coming from Vista, it’s likely in an effort to increase profitability which then rolls back up to Vista.

      Thanks for highlighting it and bringing attention to the discussion.

    4. Mike

      AC- thanks for your well reasoned comments on here. I’m so fed up with the mis-information (from both sides).

  4. Kylee

    I agree with AC. What Camelbak is saying is not believable. If they are wholly owned by Vista, how can their profits not be controlled by Vista, including donations to NRA TV, etc.

  5. SO

    Understand the silo’d argument. Believe in practice that it is true, but at the end of the day, that dollar of revenue goes up the same bottom line of the parent company. If the outdoor portion of their holdings are not producing, it impacts Vista in total. They surely bought these brands to diversify and manage their overall health beyond guns/ammo. If this arm isn’t resulting, then it has the intended impact of the boycott.

  6. gvcyclist


    Can you explain how that works? Even if the they are totally in separate silos as they say, could you not be still be making a statement to Vista by boycotting the Vista brands (Camelbak, Bell, Giro, Blackburn)?

    I like those brands, and own some of their items, but probably won’t ever purchase them again. Even if they are siloed, the profits from those brands still support the people who own the gun division. Even if the specific dollars don’t cross.

    1. Author

      I’m not sure that any response from me will make a difference; you’ve already stated that you’ll never buy these brands again, which, even for this boycott, seems a bit harsh. That said, based on my experience in large organizations, a budget for an expenditure—like marketing or lobbying—will be determined by the various income streams meant to be served by that effort. I worked for a publisher that did marketing for the given group of magazines that my mag was part of. X percent came from this mag, and that mag and this other mag. They each contributed a certain percentage of their overall marketing budget and whatever that pot held was what got spent. We didn’t get any help from the auto magazines. They had their own efforts to worry about. So while other commenters have stated flat out that CamelBak must be lying, I don’t have any trouble believing that political lobbying efforts are siloed in such a way that only the companies that will benefit from the lobbying will be charged with helping to pay for them.

    2. AC


      Again, you seem to state one or more of your commenters is asserting that camelbak lied. That is not the case in my read of this. I think they don’t understand what being a sub of a parent company means. For example, if you actually read their 10K, Vista is broken into segments, shooting and outdoor. Yet the outdoor segment has a bunch of gun related brands in it as well. Camelbak may think they don’t directly fund any other division of Vista. But if they generate net cash, it is either reinvested in Camelbak, or returned to the parent (and if they don’t generate net cash, they’re being subsidized by someone else). The parent may not invest that in Savage, but maybe it helped purchase another brand, like Hoppe (gun oil) or Uncle Mikes (rifle slings and accessories) (both brands included in the outdoor segment BTW, which seems like a stretch…). The point is that Camelbak doesn’t have a say. The budget experience you describe is consistent with that. Siloed budget or not, they are still the same company, and results from one help the other. For example, all employees might have comp plans based on parent company stock value.

      Again this boycott idea is one of the dumber things the bike industry has latched on to, however if you do believe in it, the justification that its not necessary based on the company’s statement is somewhere between naive and stupid. I remain confused by your reporting on this. Is this an opinion piece or actual news? Seems like it started the latter and morphed into the former.

    3. Author

      Regarding the assertion that some readers have asserted that CamelBak lied, if you read the totality of comments on social media and elsewhere, you’ll see that people have used the word “lie.”

      As to whether I’m writing an opinion piece or actual news, I’ll say that RKP has never been just straight reporting. We never report only the facts of a story; I’ve always added analysis. I’ve also never been afraid to advocate for anything I believe in. Not everyone likes that, but I wanted RKP to be an alternative to other sites. People know where we stand, for better and sometimes for worse.

    4. gvcyclist

      Padraig – I get that the specific dollars within camelbak will not be spent for NRA lobbying and such. But It is still one entity publicly traded on the NYSE. When you get to the shareholders and the executives of the parent company, it is all the same thing.

      You mention that only the bike brands and retailers will suffer. Would the parent company not also suffer?

    5. Author

      If people were to do what I suggested in my post, “The Boycott,” which is to write to institutional investors of Vista Outdoor and tell them to divest, the parent company would definitely suffer. Driving down the stock price will get the attention of a bunch of people. However, the executives running Vista Outdoor are well-insulated from a down quarter. Vista owns 50 companies of which, only five are in the bike industry. One or two quarters of earnings being off from some bike companies won’t cause much of a stir in the C-suite.

    6. AC


      I generally like your style of journalism which is, as you note, a mix of reporting and opinion. Respectfully, on issues as divisive as this, perhaps more fact and less opinion is called for. IMO you’re letting emotions carry the day, and that’s disappointing.

    7. Author

      Some of what sounds like opinion is couched that way because I’ve got sources informing me of things I’m not yet supposed to know. I do have strong opinions on this, yes, but I’m trying to steer clear of the politics and just focus on what the actual effects of different efforts will be.

  7. Winky

    It is not OK with me personally that cent of my spending goes to shareholders who profit from gun sales or who support/lobby the NRA (no matter how far up the corporate structure the profits are merged). Giro, Camelbak won’t be getting any of my business. I have other choices..

    1. BR

      So, to get to the real heart of the matter, if YOUR child were an employee of one of these companies would your opinion be the same? Possibly putting their ability to keep their job and support your grandchildren? If YOU were an employee, would you be willing to quit your job? It is easy to be dogmatic if a situation does not directly affect you, OR if you “have other choices”. Or what if these were the only choices?

    2. Winky

      It sure is easy to be dogmatic. What do you want me to say? Your hypothetical does not affect me. I make my choices based on my personal circumstances as we all do. Feel free to support whatever manufacturer you like. A have not advocated making the purchasing of these products illegal.

  8. LH

    Today Adventure Journal posted about MEC dropping these outdoor brands. They also mentioned that Vista gives money to politicians that are trying to gut public lands. This is a separate issue from guns, but I’m curious if you have any thoughts about how Vista seems to be working at odds with the outdoor industry in general, while profiting from it.

    1. Author

      One of the challenges we face in a hyper-partisan world is, in my opinion, is dismissing people who hold even one view that differs with our own. I really don’t want to get political here, but I think I can advocate from a neutral position that we need to try to find common ground with people whenever we can. There’s a long history of civilizations collapsing because of unhealable divides. I spent a bunch of time yesterday looking at all the money Vista Outdoor spent on lobbying last year. Honestly, there’s a fair amount of legislation they backed that makes great sense.

  9. Reality Ray

    Puh leeze people. Make decisions about how you live your life, spend your money and treat people on your own, but if you are going to go down this rabbit hole of disdain for Camelbak based on their parent company’s ownership of a gun stuff…I hope you are as critical of your internet provider for their associations, the car company you drive, the health insurance you purchase and even the bike you ride being made of materials you don’t know the origins of. Not to mention the media you consume, your 401(k), mutual funds and stock portfolio.

    If you think your clean…ha!

    That said, I say ban all the guns and jail Wayne LaPierre for assholism.

  10. Bluskyla

    The Boycott is related to the fact that Vista Outdoor manufacturers assault rifles similar to the ones used in every mass shooting. Not their efforts at lobbying.

    1. Author

      Actually, not true. The point of the boycott, as it was pitched in places like the LA Streets Blog and Bike Portland, was to decrease revenue into Vista Outdoor by choking bike companies in order to reduce the spend they could make with the NRA.

  11. Scottg

    Dear Giro, sometimes silence is the best policy.
    Chasing the approval of a few thousand people on the net is a waste of time and makes you look foolish.

  12. Ownership matters

    That statement is just kind of silly. If Camelbak makes any profits, it will flow through to the owner, Vista Outdoors, who also make guns and spends money lobbying for guns. Once it gets to Vista, it’s the same money, it doesn’t matter in the least whether the Camelbak “operates separately” from the rest of Vista when it comes to where the profit flows.

  13. Ed

    “We recognize, support and respect the right of every individual to decide for themselves what brands they will purchase based on whatever criteria they believe are important. ”

    It’s time to stop splitting hairs and to start protecting our kids and each other from the madness.

    1. Author

      This wasn’t a matter of choosing to accept an investment. They were sold to Vista by a parent company several generations removed from the entity founder Jim Gentes sold to. Giro employees had no say in this sale. The moral cost wasn’t anything they had input on.

    2. AC

      Camelbak has been sold several times now. Each time at a larger price IIRC. They’re not accepting investment so much as an asset moving from one investor to another.

  14. Michael Burdge

    Regardless of what the content of the statement is, the very fact that they are issuing it suggests to me that the boycott is having its intended effect.

    1. Author

      It’s important to understand that CamelBak employees are horrified to be associated with gun companies. I’ve spoken with people and they don’t align with assault weapons. They want to do all they can to separate themselves from Vista and guns. So the boycott is having an effect, but the strongest effect it is having isn’t the one that was intended.

    2. Michael

      @Padraig- Really? Camelbak’s own website has a section for “Military/Tactical” ( available to the general public from the Camelbak landing page. The page is scattered with images of combat weaponry with no statement on whether these packs are oriented towards active duty service members and not members of the general public with a fixation for military-style weapons.

      Camelbak seems pretty clearly integrated into the Vista family of brands.

    3. Author

      Wait, are we going to attack our military now? I thought our armed forces were off-limits in this. I personally believe that making a product that improves the health of our troops is pretty terrific. I don’t see a conflict of mission between keeping troops hydrated and not wanting to be associated with producing guns.

      A couple of years ago a CamelBak employee told me about being approached by some of the brass of the NRA who demanded that a pack that they made specifically for the military and law enforcement be sold to their members. CamelBak didn’t budge, despite what I’m told was a very public confrontation.

      I get that people are going to draw the conclusions they want. I’ll continue to do what I can to try to communicate what I see and what employees of these companies tell me. And believe me, I’ve heard plenty more off the record. So it goes.

    4. Michael

      @Padraig- How is pointing out the marketing and sale of military-style items to the general public with accompanying images of AR-15/M16 style weapons on Camelbak’s website in any way construed to “attack our military”?

      This nonsensical defense of Camelbak as separate and unrelated to their ownership in this post is strange, but the defense you are making in the comments is outright embarrassing.

  15. hiddenwheel

    I appreciate that there’s some back and forth here. First, from a consumer perspective, I support the bike industry with any gear purchase (for the retailer, e-tailer, designer, etc.). Worrying about the fine folks at Bell, et al. strikes me as a pretty narrow concern just as a boycott is a pretty blunt instrument to affect change. Second, I recall reading (perhaps here) that one reason Vista got into the bike biz was to counter/stabilize the cyclical nature of the gun biz. That’s pretty clear evidence that bike revenue and gun revenue are co-mingled. Sure, at the unit budget level (e.g., Bell gets $x to send reviewers to Sardinia) there would be some independence, but it is disingenuous to say they aren’t the same firm. In fact, one way to think of that stability is that bike revenue is subsidizing the other units. A boycott decreases that subsidy and bikes don’t act as a hedge for guns. And, finally, when a business unit becomes less profitable for reasons unique to its owner, that unit gets sold to someone else eventually. Bell and Giro (and maybe even Camelbak and Blackburn) are strong brands with good products. They’ll be fine. So the boycott seems to come down to whether you care about these specific employees in the near-term (who, if horrified by their association, then they can, and arguably must, look for new employers) more than you mind supporting a corporate entity in the gun biz. Frankly, I don’t care about Bell employees one bit more than employees of Catlike, KASK, Trek, Specialized, etc.

  16. Nico

    This is early days for this issue. REI and Moutain Equipment Coop are now curtailing their relationships with Vista. The gun industry, especially assault weapon manufacturers are in the same dilemma that tobacco producers were in decades ago. Eventually, those companies had to separate their core product from their other offerings. Philip Morris did this to minimize the fallout from the negative impacts of lawsuits and a diminished domestic consumer base.

    1. Mike

      I’ve been a member of REI for over 45 years. My last visit to a store was about two weeks ago and it was just that – my last visit.

  17. RM2Ride

    Kudos to you, Padraig, for keeping up the dialog, fine tuning and correcting were possible, and opening the space for thoughtful comments!

  18. Jonathan Maus

    Just because the shooting and outdoor sports divisions are separate in terms of operation and profits, that does not mean that Vista Outdoor Inc doesn’t benefit from the success of their outdoor brands like camelbak and the others. If Vista didn’t benefit from the sales of brands they own, why would they spend hundreds of millions to own them?

    And this whole thing isn’t just about how profits and sales are handled. This is about optics and expectations.

    Vista supports the NRA… The NRA is an extremist group (besides the good they do, they have gone off the rails completely in terms of their politics and propaganda)… Many people are sick and tired of the gun culture in America and the NRA and they don’t want to do business with any brand or anyone that has such strong connections to the NRA.

    These statements from Bell/Giro/Camelbak completely miss the mark in my opinion and they are tone-deaf about the where a lot of their customers are. These brands should be meeting with Vista CEO to encourage him to sell off the brands immediately so they can continue to do business without being sullied by Vista’s ties to the NRA and America’s dysfunctional gun culture.

    If we truly care about the bike industry, we should encourage it to stay as far away from the NRA as possible — and not try to justify and rationalize our connections to it simply because it feels like the easiest way out.

    1. Author

      Your dissatisfaction with the statement is a bit naive. That statement falls short of how the great majority of CamelBak employees feel. They are muzzled by Vista. There’s no way they will be allowed to say exactly what they think and have any hope of keeping their jobs. You’re putting the jobs of innocent people at risk. They didn’t ask for this controversy.

    2. AC

      An extremist group? That is an extremist statement. Millions of normal Americans are NRA members. I give as much to them as I do to cycling orgs. NRA contribs will increase this year. Cycling probably not. Over the top dismissiveness of opposing views, is how you ended up with Trump as president.

      Kudos to Padraig for mostly steering clear of overly broad generalizations and fostering civil debate.

    3. Ryan

      No, the NRA is an extremist group, with the rhetoric to back it up. I was a member years ago until they ramped up the “guns = freedom” and “no compromise means liberty” marketing. I’m done with them, and they have blood on their hands…lots of it. Face it, they are just a shill for the firearm industry who is more interested in getting ARs into everybody’s hands than firearm safety and education.

    4. VeloKitty

      The NRA would not be involved in lobbying if politicians would stop trying to infringe on people’s rights. The NRA’s lobbying efforts are born out of necessity to protect citizens’ rights.

  19. Chris

    Thanks for a thoughtful and well-worded commentary; but I do disagree.

    “The bottom line is simple: Anyone who chooses not to do business with the bike brands owned by Vista Outdoor will really only serve to hurt those brands and the retailers invested in them.”

    That is PRECISELY the point. Hurt CamelBak/Bell/Giro’s bottom line. Then Vista might sell them off to someone else. And, hurt any LBS/retailer that chooses to do business with them. (I’m buying enough stuff that my LBS isn’t going out of business over this; I’ll just buy a Troy Lee helmet instead of a Giro one). Heck, I’ll probably buy *more* stuff from REI because of their stance on this.

    I’ll probably tape over the Bell/Giro/CamelBak logos on my current gear, too.

  20. John

    Thanks Padraig for some straight scoop.

    I am pretty fundamentally opposed to these mob boycotts that decide companies don’t deserve to exist. It is a juvenile approach that will hurt the hundreds of people who have a livelihood dependent on the companies they work for. Money is very fluid and anybody with a retirement account is very likely invested indirectly in any number of business that won’t score 100% on the social justice scale. Protesting CamelBack, Giro and other companies won’t result in a single less round of ammunition being produced – but will cost good people in (mostly) unrelated industries their jobs. Carry on long enough, maybe some lawyers and consultants make some money and the company gets restructured to pass whatever sniff test is required.

    I’m not against activism and change – I think the decisions by sports retailers like Dick’s and Walmart to stop selling assault rifles are great examples – but protesting a safety product like a Giro helmet as a response to gun violence is pretty silly.

    I’ve kind of been curious about the new lumbar packs – I think I’ll scroll over to a site like Dick’s and buy me a new CamelBack today.

  21. Seano

    This is a difficult one, but the fact that the brands are owned by Vista means that Vista benefits in some way: according to Vista its a diversification strategy.

    Clearly only a very select few at each of the brands benefited from the sale to Vista – save for the fact that the companies still exist. I would bet the large majority had nothing to do with those deals, no matter their interest or not being owned buy a gun & ammo manufacturer. For those at those brands who aren’t into it, its probably a bit painful.

    If you have a job / a job you like / a job you love… it isn’t always easy to switch because of decisions that are made that don’t affect your day to day. We’ve all worked (most of us?) for at least one asshole in our careers – making a change is tough for many, many reasons.

    The fact is, though, avoiding brands and driving down sales can put pressure on Vista to possibly re-think their decision to own these brands. Will it hurt the employees, too? Probably… getting caught in the crossfire is never good. But there really is little else individuals can do, except choose where to spend their money – and as we’ve seen currently, the markets have been very quick to respond to this pressure.

  22. Perry

    If you believe the silo argument, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. The owners of Vista will get the message loud and clear if revenues elsewhere go down. Yes, it will also hurt Camelbak, Giro and Bell, too, but they chose their partner (or at least their prior owners did) and that’s unfortunate for them.

  23. David

    Yeah, I’m not a business expert but I don’t buy CamelBak’s response. It’s worded in such a way to make them seem like they’re a wholly different company, but they aren’t.

    They are simply a brand (like Camry) of a much larger company (like Toyota), and while profits from the brand may not mingle with the profits of other brands (like Scion), they all funnel up to the top… responsible for R&D, accounting, distribution, global marketing, leadership, etc. It’s also not uncommon for companies to practice cost-center accounting, which essentially allows the administrative expenses (HR, IT, R&D, etc) of the subsidiary brands to be paid to the parent (which technically, isn’t profit).

    This press release (above) from when Vista bought CamelBak tells a story of synergy and opportunity, much different than CamelBak’s message of innocence.

  24. VeloKitty

    Eating meat kills orders of magnitude more people than are killed by firearms. How about boycotting all restaurants that serve meat and all supermarkets that sell meat?

    1. Author

      I’m not sure where you live, but there are people already doing that. If you feel so compelled, I suspect you can find like-minded people at PETA.

    2. VeloKitty

      If you are looking at this from a public health perspective, meat should be banned way before firearms. The meat and diary industry is very powerful though. Meat and diary are still on the US government’s dietary guidelines, despite there being strong scientific evidence that meat and dairy consumption is harmful. Children are still being fed meat and dairy in school lunches!

      And how many pedestrian and cyclists have been killed in the US in the two weeks following the school shooting? The answer is about 500… one death every 1.5 hours. The number going to the emergency room from being struck by a car is 20 times that.

  25. Slosurf

    So much for the argument the boycott will only impact the employees of Giro, et al and not Vista.

    REI responded to its members calls and has announced it not placing any more orders for Giro, Camelback, etc. “REI does not sell guns,” its official statement read. “We believe that it is the job of companies that manufacture and sell guns and ammunition to work toward common-sense solutions that prevent the type of violence that happened in Florida last month.”

    A day after the REI announcement, Vista’s stock price dropped by 9.6 percent, according to the financial services website The Motley Fool.

  26. B5000

    Lawrence Fink of Blackrock Inc.: “Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” he wrote in a draft of the letter that was shared with me. “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

  27. david

    the notion that Vista’s shooting and non-shooting business are separate is just absurd.

    Vista Outdoor is a public company and reports a single set of financial results. All profits flow into the same bucket at the end of the year. The non-shooting businesses provide steadier revenue streams that increase the financial viability of the gun business (which is more boom and bust). That diversified portfolio ensures the long term stability of its firearms business.

    Padraig, you are feigning ignorance here. I get that the bike biz is a clubby world, its hard to make a living as a writer, and you don’t want to make enemies, but much better to have just left this issue alone. I am disappointed. Better to just delete this whole post.

    1. Author

      David, I believe you have conflated the issue. The original stated purpose of the boycott was to reduce what Vista could spend on lobbying. And some of the early (incorrect) reports held that Vista had given the NRA $500k. They had, in fact, given far less. The issue wasn’t profit. My post points out that if the cycling world wants to reduce what Vista can spend on lobbying, there is a more effective way to do that.

  28. RKPisComplicit

    Your “reporting” is just about as accurate as the hapless corporatespeak from Camelbak. The evasion and lack of truthful information is why folks are accusing Camelbak of lying.

    The amount of money Vista was required to disclose as lobbying efforts is for lobbying Congress. That money is not related to any potential donations to the NRA or spending on the NRA TV channel. To attempt to suggest otherwise is disingenuous, which is not at all surprising coming from RKP.

    Some of the legislation they lobbied for includes tariffs on competing water packs, and weakening TSCA, the Toxic Substances Control Act, as Vista didn’t appreciate those pesky regulations requiring control of hazardous substances. Is that legislation you can get on board with? Apparently RKP thinks that with a little smoke and mirrors, only referencing the “good lobbying” will get you to forget about that minor issue of industrial pollutants, oh, and pursing the right to slaughter other human beings.

    Camelbak’s employees are employees of a company which produces assault weapons, they are not “innocent”. They are complicit with the manufacture of weapons to kill human beings. While it is a major hardship to move jobs, any employee who had moral qualms about the manufacture of weapons to kill human beings should probably not work at the company. Personally, I wouldn’t work for such a company.

    The bottom line is simple: boycotts work and effect real change. Boycott brands associated with producing weapons with no other purpose thank killing human beings. Camelbak and it’s corporate overlords are running scared.

  29. Aar

    My initial reaction to the request of the Parkland shooting victims was to oppose all of the boycotts because I thought the best way to influence was exercising rights of ownership. With that background, when I read about the boycott of Vista and Padraig’s opposition to it here, I was inclined to agree with Padraig.

    After a bit of thought, I realized that legislation to prevent public shootings have been out of whack in this country since the “Brady Bill” was gutted by the gun lobby. As a society, gun and mental health laws have been causing USA citizens serious pain that has increased year over year for almost 40 years. Further, our government is doing nothing about it. Thus, I think it’s quite appropriate for us non-gun owning private citizens to do what we can to inflict pain on the gun industry and its marketing arm, the NRA. If that causes peripheral pain, I’m somewhat willing to say that our society should endure it. Thus, I’m coming down in favor of the Vista boycott.

    Other factors occurred to me during my consideration of this topic. No LBS in my area carries Vista brands, only large national chains and huge online retailers (minimal local impact here and I suspect across most of the US). No Vista cycling product has been compelling enough for me to buy for something between 5 and 10 years (my boycott has value only in words).

    Thank you, Padraig for inviting us to consider the unintended consequences of boycotting Vista Outdoor brands. In balance, I have decided to support the boycott because I value our children’s lives and sanity over a jobs. As a person who has lost two jobs due to employer downsizings, I have the greatest sympathy for all of the people who may lose their jobs due to this boycott. I’ll offer up that both times I was laid off I found more stimulating and higher paying jobs. I suspect these nameless faceless Vista employees will do the same – if it comes to that. If these brands leave the market, it’s inevitable that more innovative products will replace them.

  30. SamAdams

    The sport of cycling belongs to us. It does not belong to the equipment manufacturers, the teams they sponsor or the shops through which they sell their products. It also does not belong to the journalists (sorry Padraig). The sport exists because we choose to spend our time doing it, and more importantly, our money on cycling related products and services. A cycling brand’s equity exists only in our collective esteem. I applaud Padriag for raising this issue and for providing a platform for a thoughtful and considered discussion. If the comments here are representative, there is not a strong consensus in the community about the correct course of action. Nonetheless, I for one feel I am better informed as a result, and will make my purchasing decisions accordingly.

  31. Michael

    The argument that Vista companies are siloed with individual independence from one another within the Vista family of brands is undercut by the fact that the statement from Camelbak posted in the article was also used verbatim by other Giro:

    “As you may know, in the wake of the recent tragic shooting at a Florida school, there have been calls on social media for a boycott of Giro products because of its association with Vista Outdoor, a company that also owns separate businesses in the shooting sports industry. A major concern for the boycott centers around the incorrect assumption that the purchase of any of our products may support a cause that does not fit the mission/values of our brand. That is not the case. Our brand falls within the Outdoor Products segment of our company, which operates separately from Vista Outdoor’s Shooting Sports segment.

    We recognize, support and respect the right of every individual to decide for themselves what brands they will purchase based on whatever criteria they believe are important. Throughout Giro’s 33-year history, we’ve never lost sight of our commitment to challenge the status quo and we look forward to delivering new ideas that enhance the ride for years to come.”

  32. Craig

    You guys are pissing in the wind. Go ahead and put Giro and Camelback totally out of business if you think it will make you feel better. The problem as I see it isn’t with the NRA – it’s Joe Biden’s magical thinking that ” gun free zones ” actually do anything other than prevent armed guards at schools. Might as well make Syria a ” gun free zone ” if it actually worked. Plus, even if every gun purchase went through a background check ( which I’m not opposed to ), we’ve seen that the military and other government agencies don’t seem capable of sending the background information in to NICS to begin with. If you could magically make all AR15’s disappear, handguns are the weapon of choice for criminals anyway ( smaller, easier to carry ). And a 12 gauge shotgun with 00 buckshot is more deadly. Good luck banning those. It will never happen. You are fighting people that will go to the mat to retain their 2nd Amendment rights. Better to look for solutions that everyone can get behind, like a better background check system and security at schools ( might keep the gang members and drug dealers from wandering the halls too ).

    1. Ryan

      Security at school isn’t doing anything to solve school shootings; all armed security will do is react to a school shooting and hopefully with enough training and discipline to not make the situation worse. It’s only goal is to minimize the death toll once a shooting has started. That means, as a society we are saying that we are cool with the initial dead as long as a “good guy with a gun” kills the bad guy with a gun without ever actually working the problem. The problem is easy access to firearms.

    2. Author

      We need to keep the discussion on topic, which is a boycott of Vista-owned bike companies. As a site devoted to cycling, we are not going to take up a debate about guns or arming teachers or gun-free zones or anything like that. I’ll let these comments stand, but if anyone else takes up this line of debate, I’ll delete the comments. We’re just not going there.

  33. Eric

    Good discussion Padraig.
    Here is some more information to consider. Take a close look at Vista’s latest financials. Vista’s Shooting Sports Division, down by 18.7% over last year, and the Outdoors Products Division (including bike companies), are down by 9.1% over last year. This data is prior to any discussion of a boycott and shows real problems the company is facing. It’s debt is over $1B with a market cap of $722M. This is not a sign of a healthy company and is the result of over purchasing in the past 2-3 years.
    My point is that any boycott is going to hurt Vista and be very painful since they were already in decline from bad management at Vista’s top level. There is a reason the CEO, Mark DeYoung, abruptly left mid 2017 and the Vista person responsible for far too aggressive acquisitions left in January 2018 and now works for a gun company (Brian Murphy). The corporate governance was severely lacking and now any drop in sales is hitting the bottom line very hard.
    Vista originated from a weapons background and diversified to avoid the gun market volatility. So if you think boycotting will get their attention, in my opinion it certainly will.

    1. Author

      I don’t think there was ever a question about whether or not a boycott would get the attention of Vista’s C suite. The question to me, was always about maximizing impact while minimizing injury to people who have no say in Vista’s larger decisions. To your point about Vista’s revenue problems, yes, the whole reason they purchased bike companies was to ease some of the volatility of the gun market. One of the interesting declarations Vista made around the time they purchased Bell/Giro/Blackburn was that while a Democractic president was good for business, a Republican president was bad for business. Gun and ammo sales have fallen under our current administration. As a matter of purely intellectual inquiry, one wonders why gun companies would prefer Republican presidents if the opposite results in more sales. That said, that’s a question for folks to take up with friends, not the stuff of the RKP comments section. Back to our actual conversation: hitting institutional investors was very effective at getting universities to divest from all South African holdings, which put pressure on the South African government to end apartheid. Those losses in investment were ultimately effective.

  34. Alanm9

    Assuming this thread continues…l am a cyclist and gun owner (by inheritance). Bell helmets saved my life twice and I swore I would never buy another brand (bought my latest one before Vista acquired them). For now I’m joining the boycott; my demands are simple, that Vista not fund the NRA and not sell semiauto guns with more than 10 round magazines or divest the cycling brands. I’m not sympathic to the argument that boycotting hurts employees. For camelbak it’s been almost 3 years; what have they done to find other jobs or find training in other skills? Unemployment is below 4 percent and outdoor companies are seeing real growth. This reminds me of the lament over military base closures in the 80s and 90s; all those jobs lost by people who had only one way to make money, from the defense industry. Crickets from the political left over the plight of those hard-working people.

  35. Savvy Senior

    Having worked around the outdoor industry in climbing for over forty-five years, I’m disgusted at the quick dismissal of major significant, and very conscientious companies like CamelBak and Bell, purely because they happen to have suffered the arbitrary fate of being absorbed by a larger company. The small players have no say or vote in policies above their status in the hierarchy, I am certain, and furthermore, the merits of the small branches to me outweigh whatever contributions may indirectly go into the disliked areas. There are many more direct paths to addressing collective opinions regarding guns and firearm issues, including demanding the egregiously funded local, state and federal elected officials reveal how much they’ve taken in campaign funds; also, harangue legislators about the embarrassing hypocrisy of the NRA being tax exempt despite their flagrant, appalling political agenda that looks more and more like Big Tobacco’s every week. This boycott is a misguided feel-good act that does not serve the purpose intended.

  36. Sascha

    I feel for the employees of these bike companies but as they’re under the umbrella of Vista Outdoors I will no longer purchase items from Camelbak, Giro etc…morally I just can’t do it.

  37. Scaredofthefuture

    Once all the boycotting is complete and all gun manufacturer’s are out of business, then the 2nd amendment can be repealed. Once that is done, the liberal left can work on repealing the your 1st amendment rights. Our forefathers we’re very careful in wording the 2nd amendment. It was the people’s protection against a tyrannical government forming. It’s happening now. Just like a lobster put in luke warm water and raising the temperature. It doesn’t know that it’s life is over. Stop and think who you are fighting for. Don’t be sheep.

    1. Author

      This isn’t the place for diatribes about our constitution. Conversation needs to stick with the subject at hand: the boycott. Any further political opinions will be deleted.

  38. Kevgo

    I’m boycotting because I don’t want my money to become profits for the makers of assault rifles, that it’s the people who own the company that owns the company that makes them is, for me, a distinction without a difference.

    As far as the employees, maybe it’s time to leave and kickstart some new brands that won’t be tainted by being part of a murder-toy conglomerate.

  39. JJ 2 JJ

    OK.. and where do we “all” stand now, just 72 hours after ANOTHER school shooting? Yes, it was not with an AR. Yes, it was not a gun manufactured by Vista. I have not seen evidence on the manufacturer of Ammo…

    Best I get to my point and off the political, so I don’t suffer the fate of deletion as scoped out by Padraig.

    I communicated last night with Layne Rigney, the former SVP Sales at Camelbak who moved to President shortly after the sale to Vista when Sally departed. He left the company 18 months ago, but was clearly and vociferously in favor of the outdoor recreational brands (Bell, Giro, Camelbak, etc) tapping the private equity market and being sold by Vista and taken private. (noted, a former long time employee of Camelbak).

    So, this is what a boycott can do. This is what contacting the major investors like Blackrock, Fidelity, and Vanguard, can (help) to do. It is not just a boycott, it takes a concerted and continual focused effort to get these brands out from under the Vista umbrella.

    Lots of good commentary, and there is perfect solution to staying “clean” with ALL of our investment and buying decisions. But small steps count and that is incredibly valuable at this time when we are making exactly zero progress towards stopping these needless massacres.

    1. Author

      If I may, shootings are still happening, so I don’t see that boycotts have changed the thing that people want changed.

  40. sfarels

    I ALWAYS consider opinions based on sources that cannot be disclosed to be a bit suspicious. I don’t think the point of the boycott was to stop all shooting, but to hurt those that sell firearms and related products. I appreciate the author setting straight the issue of the lobbying funds.

    The boycott, in my opinion, is stupid. I no longer shop at REI, but still use and buy Giro and Camelback products. This is based on these products, not some other product in the company’s quiver.

    If one believes in this (in my opinion) silly boycott, you are welcome to participate.

    We live in a free society; we are free to make these choices. Please pray that this freedom continues.

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