Aug 08, 2013
by JEFF SPRY CBN Feature Writer
Providing the world with premium products for proficient liquid portability, Hydro Flask of Bend has its customers bottled up with high quality stainless steel containers for beverages from A to Z.
Founded in 2009 by Travis Rosbach, then sold in 2012 to principal owner, Jim Collis, Hydro Flask manufactures and markets a distinctive line of double wall, vacuum-insulated water bottles for bikers, boaters, hikers, hunters, athletes, backcountry adventurers or backyard pool loungers.
Each stylish, lightweight receptacle is constructed with premium 18/8 food grade stainless steel and free of inferior liners found in most aluminum bottles. With their patented design, they’re able to keep drinks cold for over 24 hours and hot for a minimum of 12.
Due to CEO and President Scott Allen being out of the country, Charlie Ortega, former PGA golf pro and now vice-president of sales with focus on food and beverage, spoke with us on Hydro Flask’s phenomenal growth.
“My main job is growing Hydro Flask in the brewery category, natural food and grocery markets and coffee, tea and juice segments,” said Ortega. “I also manage and oversee our inside sales and customer service staff of five employees here in our Bend headquarters. I’ve been with the company since January 2011 and was the fourth employee that started with Hydro Flask.
“We now have 18 employees, so in just four years time our growth has been incredible. We’re now in over 6,000 retail stores and have actually had to limit our supply on popular online sites like Amazon.”
Hydro Flask’s products are found at a multitude of outdoor retailers like REI, Cabela’s, L.L Bean, Amazon and thousands of other retail and online shopping outlets. These cool, durable bottles can be purchased with a variety of powder-coated finishes and colors, models and features like a sports cap lid, flip-up cap or screwable loop top cap and are extremely safe, 100 percent BPA-free and carry a lifetime warranty.
The design allows them to be not only tough and resilient, but also highly resistant to absorbing odor, taste and bacteria.
“BPA is what really started this business,” he explained. “Back in 2008-09 there was a big cancer scare in plastic drinking bottles on the market that contained that harmful chemical. Hydro Flask pioneered the BPA-free market and the bottles don’t sweat so you can put them on your desk or computer and not worry about leaving a mark. Everybody has to drink water and we basically hit a home run with the bottle. It’s simple yet durable and has incredible performance.”
The company originated with the ultimate goal of creating a cutting-edge water bottle that performed in nearly any conditions and environments.
“We’re co-branded with Columbia Sportswear and also seen in Whole Foods for the entire northwest, in hundreds of breweries since we were the first ones to come out with a 64-ounce vacuum-insulated growler and are available at all 200 Dutch Brothers drive-through coffee outlets.
The founders started it in Bend because of the great outdoor lifestyle here and the first focus was toward the outdoor recreation world. In the beginning, due to limited finances, they started selling the bottles out of the back of a pick-up truck at the Portland Farmers Market.”
The first commercial tradeshow the Hydro Flask crew attended was the huge Outdoor Retailers Show in Salt Lake City in 2010. As a result of that venture, Hydro Flask took off via grassroots marketing and wildfire-like word of mouth.
“Who knows where it will go from here,” said Ortega. “In the last month we just launched an ambassador program and have reached out to professional athletes in skiing, snowboarding, cycling and many more disciplines. Our list is growing fast.”
What Ortega likes best about working at Hydro Flask is the company’s invigorating culture.
“Everybody here is all about athletics and the outdoors and we like to “walk the talk” to show the value of our team here. Great flasks and great causes go together and we do that with our 5 Percent Back program. For every bottle we sell, there’s a serial number on the inside wrap. Customers can take that number to our website and choose from one of twelve charities that we then donate 5 percent of the profits back for every bottle we sell.”
Ortega loves what they represent and feels it’s incredible to be able to sell a product that actually works.
“Innovation is one of our big strengths and we are continually developing new product twice a year, like our new 32-ounce wide-mouth flask and skinny icestick trays to fit into the standard bottles. We’ll have another new launch February of 2014. And we’re seriously considering expansion into the international market in mid-2014 as well, so this is such an exciting time to be here.”
Hydro Flask, 561 NW York in Bend. www.hydroflask.com, 888-58-HYDRO.