UltrAspire builds quality gear, tight-knit family
By Henry Howard
Ahead of my race at this month’s Zion 100K, I had the opportunity to meet the team at UltrAspire and tour their headquarters in nearby St. George, Utah.
UltrAspire is a small organization nearing its 10th year anniversary. Team members are more of a family than co-workers, not in the biological sense, but in how they interact, treat guests and support athletes of all levels. The patriarch and founder, Bryce Thatcher, unfortunately was not available. However, I enjoyed meeting the team and spending time interviewing Kevin Robison, the president and head of sales at UltrAspire for roughly the past four years.
Robison has worked in several outdoor industries with companies specializing in running, skiing and footwear.
“It really does feel like a family,” he says of his team. “A lot of that comes down to just the passion that we have for the product, obviously that all starts with Bryce within designing the product and creating the product. There really is blood, sweat and tears that go into every piece. And that just trickles down from there.”
I’ve written previously about how I select the brands that I represent. One thing that attracted me to UltrAspire several years ago is their gear is created for athletes by athletes. Even the company’s tagline — “Inspired by athletes” — connects with their customers.
“We're definitely all users of the products, too, and I think that's where that passion generates and really does make us a tight knit group,” Robison says. “We sink or swim together. We're either going to be killing it or looking for new jobs altogether because of that.”
Thriving during a challenging time
The pandemic, supply-chain issues and other recent challenges continue to create headaches for UltrAspire. How does a small company that relies on overseas shipping continue to serve its customers?
“Prayers. A lot of prayers,” Robison jokes. “It is difficult for a small company. We're even still experiencing a little bit of that from a sourcing standpoint. Now, in April of 2022, we're actually finally catching up on, which is fantastic. But one thing that really helped when the pandemic initially struck and then even through 2021, is we could pivot really fast. The culture, that family environment. We can make decisions really, really quick. We can look at things really, really fast. So the approval process, there's very, very little red tape.”
Robison credits UltrAspire’s community of athletes, retailers, distributors and others for their support.
“The running community in general has been amazing,” he says. “They've been so supportive, obviously our athletes, our ambassadors have been so supportive of us. They might deserve more credit than we initially gave them. If people aren't buying the product, we don't exist. We can do as many cool things as we want, but it's really the people that support the brand.”
The numbers illustrate that point. In 2020-21, UltrAspire recorded its largest year ever for revenue.
“We obviously had some sourcing issues and things like that, which created some inventory problems,” he says. “Had we had more product, who knows what we could have done?”