Intrepid Travel U.S.

Boulder, CO, 15 Employees

Playing the Field: Outdoor Industry

STATUS REPORT: During recessions in the nineties, the outdoor industry was hit late and recovered early. So far, that pattern is holding. According to the Boulder, Colorado–based Outdoor Industry Association, last year the $289 billion industry grew 10 percent through the end of October, and sales in camping and paddling accessories grew as much as 25 percent over the year. Still, in November year-to-year revenues dropped steeply (11 percent).
OUTLOOK: Companies selling products for the most popular activities, like fishing, hiking, biking, and camping, are expected to fare best over the next three years. Meanwhile, all sales are increasingly shifting from stores to the Web (nearly 17 percent of dollars are now spent online), and marketing through nontraditional outlets (think Facebook) is growing. Many companies, such as American Recreation Products, which owns Kelty, Sierra Designs, and Slumberjack, are restructuring to bring more sales reps in-house.
BREAKING IN: Product-line manager ($70,000–$120,000 per year, with a number of "testing" days) is a dream job, but you'll need an industrial-design degree or extensive experience in a relevant field. Talented salespeople are always needed—even more so in a downturn—and many companies hire independent contractors. If nothing else, athletic cred and a background in retail always help. See

FREQUENT FLIERS: "At this point, it's where haven't I been," says Dyan McKie, the adventure outfitter's U.S. sales manager. Hired in Intrepid's Melbourne headquarters in 2001 before helping launch the U.S. branch, McKie has taken full advantage of employee travel perks—a free two-week trip upon hiring, then 70 percent discounts and $1,500 annual stipends—joining guided journeys on all seven continents. She has the time: All employees are granted four weeks of vacation.
OH, THOSE AUSSIES: McKie's tasks include instilling the Boulder office with "Australian culture," meaning a flip-flop- and dog-friendly atmosphere, communally cooked lunches, and (of course) Friday happy hours.
SAVE THE RECEIPTS: Intrepid reimburses up to $500 for sports activities (e.g., gym, ski pass) and $500 for being green, whether it's riding a bike or bus to work or installing low-energy appliances at home.


With 20 years of experience, Intrepid Travel is one of the world's leading small-group adventure tour operators. Intrepid Travel takes around 80,000 travelers to more than 100 countries worldwide, each and every year. Intrepid trips are designed to go off the beaten track, meet the locals, and travel in an unconventional way, joining locals on their transport, in their markets, and even in their homes. Intrepid employs close to a thousand employees in nearly 20 countries worldwide.

In addition to fully funding a robust health insurance plan, we encourage our employees to stay fit with our Get Active program. We have reimbursed employees for season ski passes, new bikes, gym memberships . . . whatever works for them to get them out and get them active!

We recycle and compost. We use wind energy. We have recently implemented 30 new carbon-offset trips. We aim to be completely carbon neutral by 2010. And we encourage our employees to make a difference outside of work. Over the past year we have assisted in replacing non-efficient home appliances, distributed reusable grocery bags, and rewarded our employees for using public transit or walking to work.

We offer flexible working hours and more. We feel strongly that those who are parents in the organization should never miss a child's soccer game or teacher conference because of work. We don't keep track of hours, and we trust our employees to do the right thing. Managers are encouraged to leave by 5:30 p.m. each night so their teams do not feel compelled to stay late.

We've actually created the kind of company we all dreamed about when we worked at other companies. We live the corporate values we espouse: We act with integrity. We are passionate about what we do. We encourage personal growth. We have fun. We are creative and innovative. We believe in responsible tourism. We encourage our employees to dress in a way that inspires their best work. We want them to bring their dogs to the office. Every month we enjoy a lunch prepared by two of our co-workers. We share a round of drinks together every Friday evening to celebrate a great week. Yes, we always have a great week!

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