Home Back Issues July/August 2012 Back to the future

Back to the future

| Print |  Email
Articles - July/August 2012
Monday, July 09, 2012

 

BY LINDA BAKER

0712 GamePlan SawyerPaddles
Pete Newport (at right, holding son Kaden) with Sawyer Paddles founder Ralph Sawyer (left).

Over the past 20 years, Pete Newport has worked as a kayak instructor, marketing manager for Pepsi-Cola and owner of Bend-based Breedlove Guitar Company, which he grew to $10 million in sales before selling the company in 2010. Now Newport is embarking on yet another venture, as president of Talent-based Sawyer Paddles & Oars.

The position represents a homecoming of sorts for the 41-year-old Newport, who worked the night shift at Sawyer in 1993. Two decades later, he’s back, streamlining the company’s inventory and bringing a focus on quality and craftsmanship to the 45-year-old manufacturer.

“I’m coming from a competitive kayaking background,” said Newport, who took the reins at Sawyer in August 2011. “Lighter, beautiful, stronger.”

Founded in 1967, Sawyer Paddles is a market leader in the high-end oar industry and has been growing at about 10% annually over the past decade. Despite its strong position, the company, which employs 25, was ripe for reinvention, Newport says. The website had been under construction for two years, and many of the paddles “were state of the art 1960s and ’70s.” Sawyer also makes more than a thousand different products, ranging from pizza paddles to walking sticks. “While we are No. 1 at quality in certain things, in others we are No. 10,” Newport says.

To update the company inventory, Newport plans to reduce the number of items, leaving about 400 products “that will stand the test of being No. 1 in their niches.” He cites as an example a paddle designed for ocean rowing. Other initiatives are under way. Drawing on his guitar-making background, Newport plans to produce limited-edition collector oars, and to celebrate the company’s 45th anniversary, he has launched a promotional campaign soliciting customer stories about their waterborne adventures. “The company has a lot of growth, but the brand has gotten a little stale,” he says. “We’re reinvigorating it by talking to our customers.”

Of course, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Today Newport lives with his wife and son above the Sawyer factory — the same facility where he sanded paddles as a 22-year-old working the graveyard shift. Observes Newport: “We serve as night watchmen in addition to everything else.”

 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 momGuest 2012-07-17 17:38:07
How exciting!! I am so proud of you, Shuska and Captain Kaden. This is so much fun! I knew that raising you on my homemade secret mix muffins would pay off...and now see the results!! Now I know what I can send you........

Have a great day and endless blessings!

LOL,
Mom
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #2 Congratulations Pete, Shuska and Kaden.Guest 2012-07-18 04:18:51
This is a great article. We are happy for you Pete, Shuska and Kaden.
Love, Aunt Carlene and Uncle Bill
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Downtime

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

How State Representative Julie Parrish (House District 37) balances life between work and play.


Read more...

Two sides of the coin

Contributed Blogs
Monday, August 25, 2014
0825 thumb moneyBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Ferguson Wellman’s investment views on the economy and capital markets.


Read more...

Podcast: Interview with Steve Balzac

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

082014BalzacBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Tom Cox interviews Steve Balzac, author of "Organizational Psychology for Managers."


Read more...

Startup or Grow Up?

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY JON BELL

Startup culture is all the rage. Is there a downside?


Read more...

Shipping News

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY JENNIFER MARGULIS

In 2012 The Dalles, a city of some 14,400 located 75 miles east of Portland and often seen as the poor cousin to adjacent Hood River, completed a massive project to revitalize its dock.


Read more...

A Taste of Heaven

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY

Craft beer comes to Mount Angel.


Read more...

Managing family assets: The importance of planning ahead

News
Friday, August 22, 2014
Unknown-1BY CLIFF HOCKLEY |  OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

When business intersects with family, a host of  situations can arise. Without a clear vision and careful planning, hard-earned investments can become stressful burdens.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS