Valvano resurrects Madden brand backpacks
Last Updated: 17:06 April 8, 2014
Valvano's hope is to rekindle the brand recognition enjoyed both domestically and abroad by Madden, which was acquired by French outdoor gear and clothing company LaFuma in the early 2000s. LaFuma, which has its American headquarters in Lafayette, shuttered the Madden Equipment brand and production of the backpacks a couple of years after purchasing the company, Valvano said Tuesday.
Valvano, who worked at Madden in the early 1990s, recently purchased the Madden intellectual property and branding from LaFuma for an undisclosed sum. He's already shipped the first orders of packs to retailers in Japan. The Netherlands and Switzerland are next on the list. The company is selling its backpacks, which retail for between $60 and $260, direct to consumers online in the United States at www.maddenequipment.com.
Madden Equipment is starting out with backpacks geared toward day hiking trips but will expand to larger packs for outdoor education programs and expeditions as time goes on.
"We've really taken our time to make sure we know how to produce it and produce it to the quality levels that are expected," Valvano said. "We've taken this in a slow-growth and real scalable strategy."
Valvano is the only full-time employee right now, as he's contracting out manufacturing, public relations, marketing and legal services - including to some other former Madden employees.
Tina Johnson, one of those former Madden employees, is handling the manufacturing at her Commerce City-based company Stryker By Design.
"We still view ourselves as just stewards and feel that if we do it right we've got this loyal but very discerning following," Valvano said.
Madden Equipment was founded in the 1970s by Dan Madden, who was working for Outward Bound at the time and created the backpacks for Outward Bound students. He soon moved the company to Boulder, where the packs were then manufactured and a couple of other partners joined the venture. Madden sold the company to his partners in 1986, and the company went through a couple of more ownership iterations before the sale to LaFuma.
Madden still lives in the Boulder area and has worked for GoreTex parent company W.L. Gore and Associates since selling Madden Equipment.
Valvano said Dan Madden has been a valuable friendly adviser in his efforts to restart Madden Equipment. But Madden has no stake in the new venture and said he doesn't desire one.
"I'm happy somebody's doing it," Dan Madden said. "There seems to be a need out there."
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