Five Questions For Klim’s John Summers

Published in the February 2013 Issue White Out & Wide Open—The Blog

Unless you were hiding under a rock early this winter you no doubt heard about Polaris Industries’ purchase of Klim Aggressive Wear. If, somehow, you missed it, go here: Polaris Press Release.

Indeed, the announcement created quite a stir in the industry. Questions (and internet chatter) immediately arose with such queries as, “What exactly does it mean?” and “How will this affect dealers (Polaris and non-Polaris) who carry Klim gear?” or “Why would Klim do that?” We saw and heard a lot more questions than that.

We too wanted some answers so we asked Klim’s Director of Marketing John Summers five questions. Here’s what he told us.

SnoWest Magazine: Explain in some detail why the partnership with Polaris.

Summers: The Klim and Polaris partnership is very simple. The primary impact is on the business financial side which, in short, enables Klim to continue to grow at the fantastic pace it’s enjoyed for the last 10 years or so. Klim founder, president and CEO Justin Summers has built this brand from the ground up and with the exciting announcement last week he and the rest of us at Klim can focus on continually designing and developing the best gear in the world independent of financing the company. It’s great to have such a solid foundation so we can continue pushing the limits of what Technical Riding Gear means.

Polaris will have minimal involvement in the brand from a day-to-day operational standpoint. Klim got to the top doing what we do best: creating the best gear in the world. And the last thing Polaris wants to do is come in and affect that negatively or turn it into something it’s not. Klim will run independently and with the same people that made it the premium brand in snowmobile apparel.

SW: How will this new ownership by Polaris affect Klim in the short-term and long-term?

Summers: First and foremost; Klim will continue to operate on its own. Klim will continue to run as normal. The way Klim products are designed, developed, manufactured and distributed will remain the same. Klim’s industry-leading warranty process and repair services will remain the same and will still be handled in-house in our Rigby, ID, facilities. In fact, every aspect of business and product development by Klim will run as it was prior to this announcement. To say it’s, “business as usual,” around here is an understatement.

In both short term and long term the Klim brand will remain the same premium apparel brand it always has been and remain independent of any other brands of apparel in the marketplace.

In the long term, Polaris—as a parent company to other brands—has some exciting plans to bring its other apparel divisions to Rigby, ID, as part of the Polaris Center of Excellence for apparel. This may mean more jobs in the area and significant positive economic impact for the local community. Polaris knows Klim’s design and development model is the best in the industry and they hope to emulate that through some of their other brands’ apparel businesses right here in Idaho.

The exciting part of this long-term prospect is that each brand will have its own, focused product development team—ensuring each brand will continue to have unique attributes, positioning and product characteristics.

SW: Of course, now people will associate Klim with Polaris, so with that in mind, how do you anticipate non-Polaris dealerships will react and how will it affect them this season as well as next season?

Summers: From day one Klim has been about building the absolute best snowmobile clothing that keeps you dry and comfortable no matter what you ride. Klim stands for the highest quality and most functional clothing in the world. Klim offers real, durable, waterproof and breathable technologies combined with the toughest proven materials and the most innovative designs. Klim is what snowmobilers wear to stay dry, comfortable and out front. These associations with Klim aren’t changing because Klim isn’t changing.

Klim is very dealer-focused. As such, much of our success is directly credited to the dedication of our expansive and select dealer network. Our dealer model, sales team and focus on the dealership will stay the same as it has always been. Every Klim dealer is valued and they will get the same treatment from the same Klim family they always have.

We have great faith in the dealer base we have built up over the years and do not see our relationships changing.

SW: What will non-Polaris customers think and what will you do to keep them as customers?

Summers: Klim is for snowmobilers who demand the absolute best regardless of what machine you ride. People really need to understand that nothing is changing here with the Klim brand, Klim products or Klim people. The product we make tomorrow is the same as we’ve made in the past. We have thousands of non-Polaris customers enjoying the Klim experience and expect our products’ performance to keep them as long-term customers. It’s our business plan from day-one: Build the best so customers come back. That’s what we’re doing every day here at Klim.

SW: Is there anything in the past few days that has come up (i.e., on the Internet, from customers, etc.) that you would like to dispel? Rumors? Myths?

Summers: The internet has definitely been abuzz. Most of the real nonsense dies on its own or is corrected by other enthusiasts. There are a few real concerns below that we’ve seen come up repeatedly.

Co-branding of Polaris and Klim products

Polaris will not be co-branding Klim with their existing apparel products. All of Polaris’ apparel brands will remain independent of each other. Polaris does not want to change what Klim is doing to be successful—which is being the premium technical riding gear developer.

Klim Dealerships

Klim dealerships are the heart and soul of Klim’s success. They have invested great amounts of time and money into selling the Klim brand and that will never be taken for granted by the Klim family. There will be no changes to the Klim sales staff, strategies, dealership agreements, etc. More importantly, there will be no changes to Klim dealerships’ status or standing regardless of what type of machines they sell.

Klim’s industry leading warranty and customer service 

Klim and Gore-Tex still offer the only Guaranteed To Keep You Dry promise and Klim still has the best warranty in the industry across our product line. We stand behind every product we make with premium customer service. None of that is changing. We even have the same phone number: 208-552-7433. Call us if you need anything.

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