30 Years in Retrospect.
CEO Jim Markel’s 2016 State of the Oxx Address.
I still recall the phone ringing at the Para loft circa 1986 and a shout that Gunnery Sergeant Markel would like to speak with Corporal Markel. Bummer! Found me again … No matter where I went in the world it seems the old man has a knack for reaching out and touching me. Before this time it was a small misunderstanding with the Montana Fish and Game Dept. This time it was a favor, not a fine, and it was only going to cost me my stash of webbing and material. Since Pops had been stationed at Camp Pendleton and at the same loft, he knew exactly where I was and what I could get my hands on.
After loading up a foot locker and putting it on the Greyhound I promptly forgot about Red Oxx. It wasn’t until after my enlistment was completed that I would be back on the path to entrepreneurship. The intervening thirty years has been a hard journey with the pitfalls and successes that mark the path of every startup company.
Our Humble Origins
Red Oxx was originally founded to make weight training accessories like pulling straps and weight belts. As foreign competition began pushing us out of that arena, my partner Perry and I decided to purchase the Oxx from my dad Jim Senior. We decided to take the company in a more “outdoors orientated” direction.
Life in Montana is really about access to the wide open spaces. From the mountains to the prairie we have the room to roam and that requires being prepared. I always joked that you could die of exposure ten minutes from town. Fortunately, that may be a bit of a reach these days.
It hasn’t always been the case with our adventures taking us all over the globe. Summer fishing trips with waders and all the crazy stuff it takes to catch a stinky fish. Whether our Fall days are spent in pursuit of pheasants or hiking the Beartooths, it all requires a fair amount of kit and keeping that organized was the genesis for our initial products in this new evolution of our little company. As we transitioned more into travel and daily use, our mission has always stayed the same:
Red Oxx Gear has to be tough enough to survive life here in Montana.
Not looking to repeat the mistakes of the past we took a chance on a little thing called the Internet and pioneered many of the things that are now considered standard in a website. With our current 5.5 version offering up a smorgasbord of content from reviews to video we strive to stay abreast of the latest in online commerce. Red Oxx is considered a model for the 21st century business with case studies and other startups following our lead.
The one thing constant is change and that change can take the form of many things. Like new equipment, employees and of course new locations. Since Sr. and I were tossed out of the house for turning the kitchen stove into a webbing cutter we’ve had to move eight times. With each move we gained productivity but we were always looking for that perfect combination of work environment and efficiency. With the latest factory location we decided to build it out ourselves to get the infrastructure we would need for the long haul.
With all the new infrastructure in place we continue to develop our team of talented craftspeople. We have invested heavily in the personal development of each and every member of our highly skilled herd. It has been truly awesome to be able to stand back and watch them take charge and carry out the plan of the day.
From product development to the everyday operations of the company our crew has grown and adapted to the constant change. This skill-building is something thrilling that has finally taken hold in our Red Oxx culture. This has allowed us to build a brand that is now recognized the world over as one of the finest direct-to-consumer manufacturers.
So if you keep your eyes peeled for emails (sign up below) and social media messages this year you will have first crack at getting some of our forthcoming Limited Edition 30th Anniversary products such as our Pretty in Pink offer – any bag, any quantity in Pink Sorbet. Order by phone only – 1-888-733-6999 toll free. Offer ends March 14th. We will also be introducing some new products and previewing a few on our Facebook page or Instagram feeds.
If you find yourself planning a vacation to Montana this summer please message us and we’ll gladly arrange a factory tour. On behalf of the Red Oxx crew I would like to thank all of our patrons around the World for your support. We look forward to serving you for another three decades!
Jim Markel, CEO