Camelbak CEO reflects as the brand turns 25

Sally McCoy says the company continues to innovate on the heels of its silver anniversary

CamelBak CEO Sally McCoy

CamelBak CEO Sally McCoy

CamelBak has been reinventing hydration since its very beginning 25 years ago. It all started when paramedic Michael Edison saw the need for hands-free water before he embarked on the Hotter N’ Hell 100-mile bike race in Texas. Making use of an IV bag and tube sock, Edison created the first-ever hydration pack that eventually turned CamelBak into the leading brand it is today.

But every company has its ebbs and flows. Camelbak saw sales dip $17.7 million at the end of 2013 and another 9 percent after this year’s first quarter. This stems from a $6.5 million decrease in sales of hydration systems and a $1.2 million decline in accessories revenue.

CamelBak attributes the drop in hydration system sales to its inability to match a large military contract that was made in the first quarter of 2013, due to the recent drawdown of U.S. combat troops overseas.

The forward thinking company is not letting this ebb hold back its innovation, though. CamelBak recently added a water-filtration pitcher to their portfolio.

“The Relay was our recent venture into the water filtration,” said CamelBak CEO Sally McCoy in a recent phone interview. “It’s only been out for four months, and we’ve gotten nothing but great reviews.”

And sales appear to be on the rebound. At the end of the second quarter, sales were up $6.4 million, or 18.5 percent compared to the same period last year. This uptick was driven by $9.5 million increase in sales of the Eddy, Podium and Chute bottles.

CamelBak's Podium Ice insulated bottle and Chute bottle

CamelBak’s Podium Ice insulated bottle and Chute bottle

CamelBak has also updated an old favorite, the Podium Ice bottle, which is now equipped with an easy clean valve and higher flow rate. The company is also in the works of entering the travel mug market, with a mug that combines features that allow you to smell, sip or gulp your cup of joe.

“Cyclists are crazy for coffee and there really is no perfect travel mug, so we created the Forge,” said McCoy.

Away from innovation, CamelBak started the ‘Ditch Disposable’ movement in efforts to make disposable water bottles obsolete. Convenience and taste making disposable bottles a $10 billion industry, McCoy readily admits the company has its work cutout, but she is ready to take the challenge.

With this in mind, CamelBak has started attending music festivals and other national events. To date, the company has replaced 1.8 million single-use bottles by offering free freshly filtered water stations at these venues.

CamelBak is dedicated to pushing the hydration boundaries. The company has built a sustainable line of products ranging from hydration packs and water bottles to gloves and electrolyte-rich drink mixes.

“Whether you’re on a bike or sitting in an office, we want to keep you hydrated. Our products are all about changing the way people hydrate by making it convenient and tasting good,” said McCoy.

For the past 25 years CamelBak has been revolutionizing the way people hydrate, and it plans to do the same for 25 more.

For more on CamelBak’s history see below:

Matter: Bag to the Future – How CamelBak changed the way we all ride

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