Favorites on Friday: Conservation Alliance Bay Area Tour

Each Spring, we Conservation Alliance staffers visit member companies to make presentations to employees about our work, and to update them on good news from the previous year. I just returned from a week in the San Francisco Bay Area where I visited Mountain Hardwear, The North Face, CamelBak, Marmot, Clif Bar, and Juniper Ridge. Visiting the Bay Area always reminds me how much outdoor industry history is there. On this trip, I was encouraged to see our members in the area thriving.

My trip started with a visit to the Mountain Hardwear offices in a re-developed Ford assembly plant in Richmond. It is great to see one our members bringing new life to an old industrial area. I spoke to a roomful of employees, and my presentation was followed by an update on Mountain Hardwear's sustainability efforts by Guru Khalsa, the company's corporate responsibility manager.

TNF employees admire the company's garden and parking lot solar panels.

Next stop was a visit to The North Face's  beautiful new campus in Alameda, complete with a sea of solar panels, sparkling water on tap, and a TNF history timeline that includes a photo of the Grateful Dead playing at the first TNF store opening in 1966. Talk about history! I was impressed to learn how much thought and planning went into the new campus. The best parking spaces are reserved for electric vehicles, and have electric charging stations.

TNF's timeline proudly displays the founding of The Conservation Alliance in 1989.

I then headed to the North Bay to visit CamelBak and Marmot. CamelBak's offices sit next to a stunning wetland wildlife refuge in Petaluma. It was great to connect with Alliance board members Sally McCoy and Jason Frame, and to give a lunchtime talk to a good portion of the CamelBak team.

Marmot just moved into larger new offices near Santa Rosa. I made my presentation in their nice new cafe, which was full of roughly 60 Marmot employees. It was cool to learn that Marmot fills all of its high-end down sleeping bags onsite to ensure quality and consistency.

        Marmot's shiny new offices.

The Final day of my trip started at Clif Bar. Clif moved into a vibrant new space in Emeryville in 2010. The place oozes Clif culture, with bikes everywhere, an onsite gym, climbing wall, and tasty snacks in every conference room. My presentation there was part of their weekly all-company meeting, which happened to land near Earth Day. So, the meeting featured may updates on the good work Clif Bar is doing for the planet.


For my last stop, I was excited a to visit Juniper Ridge, a company that, in their words: "Goes to the mountains, harvests wild plants, and distills them into natural fragrances." Juniper Ridge makes the most wonderful natural trail soap, tea, cologne, and other awesome smelling stuff. When I walked into the warehouse, they were loading a pile of black sage — which they'd collected from a ranch near Monterey — into a large still to turn into a very small amount of fragrance.

Juniper Ridge team works on some new fragrance.

These folks are connected to their product in a way I have never seen in our industry. In all, the trip made me reflect on the diversity of our membership, and it made me appreciate that these varied companies come together around the common goal of protecting our last wild places.