4/3/17

Employee Spotlight - Matthew Bowe



"I’ve always been the stereotypical nerd. My dad has worked as a network systems engineer for HP my entire life. He’d always bring home broken computers and hardware for my brothers and me to fix.  I built be first PC from discarded components when I was 6. My mom is a classically trained concert pianist and passed her musical ability on to her children. I attended college on a full scholarship for instrumental music. In recent years, I’ve begun semi-professionally competing in cosplay contests at comic conventions. My costumes have been highlighted several times in local news publications.

I’ve never been a person capable of doing only one thing at a time. I frequently have more than one employer in order to round out my life. I came to Liberty Mountain after a year of working at my full-time job where I monitor and support media streams to and from a myriad of customers and companies. I nearly never actually see the computers I’m logged into or even meet face to face with the customers I’m supporting. Liberty Mountain affords me the opportunity to get back into working with physical hardware and friendly faces."


Name: Matthew Bowe
Time working for Liberty Mountain: 5 months
Job title: Part-time IT Help Desk / SysAid
What you do at Liberty Mountain: I fix all the things. I set up workstations, install network hardware, fix software installations, and educate users.
What do you like about your job? I love being hands-on with the things I fix.
Active in the following activities: I teach violin and viola. I perform chamber music with my family. I maintain my hobbled-together networks of self-built servers and IoT devices, I fly fish, and I cosplay.
Favorite activity: Eating Red Wagon corndogs and Dole Whips in Disneyland.


Favorite outdoor areas:  Quiet, shallow streams full of hungry brook trout… or Disneyland.
Most interesting place ever lived: Cologne, Germany
Top-five favorite movies: Galaxy Quest, Pete’s Dragon (1977), Wall- E, Sneakers, Guardians of the Galaxy
Top-five favorite books: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (series); Ready, Player One; Seveneves, The Martian, Dragonsong


First memory spending time outdoors: I remember spontaneous day picnics in the canyon on hot summer days.
Inspirational Hero: Adam Savage
Dream vacation: Adventures by Disney: Germany- Heidelberg, Alsfeld, Waldeck, Rothenburg, Munich
Favorite food: Tortellini Alfredo
Cake or pie: Pie

Dogs or Cats: Cats

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3/31/17

VAUDE Receives Soul@Work Award


On March 20 the mountain sports outfitter, VAUDE, was honored with the “Soul@Work Award” for its success in putting into practice the company’s culture of trust. Each year, individuals or companies who take preventative measures to ensure psychological wellbeing in the work place are honored with this award. At the award ceremony in Kloster Eberbach, Pater Anselm Grün presented the award to Miriam Schilling, VAUDE Personnel Manager.
VAUDE was selected by the panel of experts in the category, "Mid-size companies up to 5,000 employees". The culture of trust at VAUDE is based on a positive view of humanity and the belief that people are inherently motivated to contribute their skills and achievements. "This way of working creates a good climate in which you feel comfortable and can develop freely. It also helps that we have very dedicated employees who enjoy taking on responsibility. This benefits all of us as a company," said Miriam Schilling. One sign of the high level of employee satisfaction at VAUDE is its low turnover rate, which is far below the national average.

Culture of trust as a factor of success
To remain successful in the dynamic competition of the outdoor industry, VAUDE counts on its employees seeing themselves as able to take action and developing a willingness to make decisions. To promote these skills, VAUDE offers a variety of training courses and workshops for all employees. Through all levels of its hierarchy, VAUDE motivates employees to take on responsibility, to reassess existing structures and contribute their own ideas.
"Our culture of trust requires a great deal of dialogue, which often means putting effort into building relationships. But it's worth it. We are creating the basis for collaboration which is appreciative and creative," said Miriam Schilling. At a time when companies must respond more quickly to new challenges, innovative and flexible employees are an important success factor.

About the "Soul @ Work Award"
The "Soul@Work Award" is given out annually by the initiative "Stark wie Bambus" (Strong like Bamboo), which is made up of individuals and companies. Founded by the author Katharina Maehrlein, the initiative’s goal is to raise awareness of senior executives, human resources managers and those responsible for health promotion in terms of mental health in the workplace. With the "Soul@Work" Award, businesses or individuals are honored in five categories for their innovative approaches to the development of health-promoting measures by a panel of experts consisting of representatives from politics, business, church, sports, philosophy and other fields.

More about VAUDE as an employer:


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3/1/17

Employee Spotlight: Merril Longmore

 

I grew up with the spirit of adventure. For as long as I can remember my parents fostered this spirit by taking our family to see and explore every chance they got. Every three day weekend we packed up the car and headed out to see all the local national and state parks, hiking and camping all over Utah and the surrounding states. This mentality has carried over into my adult life. Every chance I get to explore the world around me I take. I firmly believe there is always an adventure to be had no matter where you are living.

Besides backpacking, one of my biggest passions in life is fishing. I love fishing and combining backpacking with fishing. This has led me to the sport of Tenkara. Tenkara is Japanese fly fishing. I love it because it is fly fishing simplified. I take my Tenkara rod with me every time I go into the wilderness where I might run into water. I carried it across 400 miles of the Appalachian Trail. I have caught hundreds of fish, both big and small on my Tenkara rod. I would recommend Tenkara to anyone who is interested in learning to fly fish on rivers.

I love animals, especially fish. I volunteer at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium twice a month, educating people about the animals. I had the pleasure of explaining most of the exhibits to a few other employees after the Liberty Mountain Christmas party this year. While Hiking the AT, I picked up and played with most every animal that I could on the trail. Animals of all shapes and sizes are awesome.


I have had some major transformations in my life, leading me to a new lifestyle of health and fitness. I started running last year. I competed in my first races doing 2 half marathons and 1 full marathon. I have now been toying with the idea of running an ultra. I love being active in the outdoors, that’s why ultras and trail running have appealed to me as they combine running with hiking.


NameMerril Longmore
Number of years working for Liberty Mountain: One
Job title: Sales Channel Specialist
Short description of what you do at Liberty Mountain: Started in the warehouse, moved to returns in the outlet, and I now work in sales. (Minimum Advertised Price, New Customer Acquisitions, Customer Service, etc.)


What do you like most about your job? Being in the outdoor industry
Active in the following sports/activities/hobbies: Tenkara, Fly fishing, Running, Backpacking, Canyoneering, Climbing, Caving, Kites, Skipping Rocks, etc…
Favorite activity: Canyoneering
Favorite outdoor areas: Southern Utah
Piece of outdoor gear you most wish you had: Quality Snowshoes


Most interesting place ever lived: Out of my backpack on the Appalachian Trail
Least interesting place ever lived: Everywhere has something interesting to see or do
Top-five favorite movies: American Beauty, Fight Club, Last Samurai, Groundhogs Day, and Flight of the Concords
Top-five favorite books: A Song of Fire and Ice, Think and Grow rich, Myst: Book of Dn’I, Timeline, and The Client
Top-five favorite bands: Coheed and Cambria, AFI, Rise Against, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy,  and Panic at the Disco


Inspirational Hero: Martin Luther King
Dream vacation: Local: carry an inflatable kayak to the bottom of coyote gulch and kayak out of lake Powell International: Backpacking across Asia
Cake or pie: Pie (key lime)
Dogs or Cats: Fish

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2/27/17

New Vaude Production Facility Focuses on Sustainability



VAUDE’s new specialized production facility at its company headquarters in southern Germany, VAUDE Manufaktur, doesn’t look like a typical industrial building with its warm-toned, blond wood façade.  The new 2-million euro production plant built by the outdoor outfitter began operation at the beginning of the year. The role that sustainability plays in the facility  – as in the surrounding buildings – is unmistakable. Plenty of natural wood and energy-efficient strategies ensure a comfortable, healthy working space. 42 employees have finally returned to the VAUDE Manufaktur at the company headquarters and are thrilled with the space. Due to a major fire in 2015, production had been temporarily moved to a rented production plant. Approximately 100,000 bike bags and backpacks are made in the 1,800 m2 factory – utilizing craftsmanship that meets highly technological standards. VAUDE will continue to expand its “Made in Germany” production, which is growing by about 20 percent annually.



"We have deliberately chosen to strengthen production at our company headquarters and to invest in a new, highly specialized production facility which represents our values, our roots and our core competencies. We are proud of our "Made in Germany” products which are in high demand around the world," said Antje von Dewitz, VAUDE CEO. "We are also pleased that we can once again show the visitors on our company tours our own production facility as a highlight. Interest in the facility is enormous."
Since 1980, VAUDE has had its own production plant at its headquarters in southern Germany. Starting out with the production of backpacks, it now primarily manufactures waterproof panniers as well as urban bags and daypacks for the VAUDE segment, Packs ‘n Bags.  After the former production plant was severely damaged in 2015 due to a lightening strike, VAUDE decided to build a new, larger facility at the headquarters in the face of strong growth of its “Made in Germany” products.



"Made in Germany" - environmentally friendly and long-lasting
At its Tettnang headquarters, VAUDE manufactures high-quality, long-lasting products featuring 100-percent waterproofing using high frequency welding methods. Each product is handcrafted on special machines involving about 20 steps. The craftsmanship of these products can be seen in the smallest details throughout the process which involves cutting pattern pieces, HF welding, sewing, quality control and packaging. To leave the smallest possible ecological footprint, production is 100% climate neutral and EMAS eco-certified. VAUDE completely sustains from using environmentally harmful PVC that is found in conventional tarpaulin. Instead, the company uses alternative materials that are environmentally friendly and just as waterproof. In terms of sustainable product development, VAUDE already takes the product’s lifespan and minimization of material waste into account at the beginning of the design phase. Last year, VAUDE initiated a refugee project that used material waste to make shopping bags. This initiative was so popular that it is now responsible for an entire product line. Future upcycling projects are certain to be exciting.


A VAUDE Classic – the Aqua Series
At the same time that the VAUDE Manufaktur began operation, the Aqua pannier line is heading into the new season with a complete re-launch. "Made in Germany" quality is what this successful VAUDE classic stands for.  Aqua panniers made of durable, PVC-free, absolutely waterproof tarpaulin materials are reliable companions for any biking adventure, be it large or small.


Ecological wooden construction for well being
As with its recently remodeled headquarters, VAUDE has attached great importance to a comfortable working environment, excellent lighting and a cafeteria in the new production facility. To achieve its goals, VAUDE decided to build a wooden structure rather than a standard industrial building. "Vorarlberger Holzbaukunst," (Austrian wooden architecture) emphasized Erwin Gutensohn, Head of Finance at VAUDE. The building will soon feature a “green” roof contributing to biodiversity. LED lighting, triple glazing and high quality insulation all ensure high energy efficiency. "We are pleased that we can offer an exceptional working environment for our employees and that we are once again all reunited," said Antje von Dewitz.


VAUDE "Made in Germany"

1980    VAUDE begins production of backpacks and bags at its Tettnang location in southern Germany.

1990    VAUDE begins manufacturing 100% waterproof panniers and introduces high-frequency welding methods. 

1999    VAUDE launches the successful Aqua bike bag series to the market.

2015    Major fire in the VAUDE production facility

2017    The newly built VAUDE Manufaktur facility begins operation        


VAUDE Sustainability Report: http://csr-report.vaude.com/


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2/24/17

Trekkin Through Patagonia


Patagonia, the region at the southern tip of South America, had been on my travel wish list for a very long time. I wanted to go so badly in fact that upon finding a deal on flights, I had purchased a ticket within about 30 minutes. I found two friends who were interested in the adventure, and together we began to plan our trip.

The Plan

The trail that we wanted to backpack was in Torres del Paine national park, a place that I had stared at pictures of for years. The area is known for its erratic weather, unique animals, and incredibly diverse landscapes. While there is a fair amount of information about the park online, recent changes (as in the last couple months) to camping restrictions and campsite reservations made it hard to find current information on the park. Because of this, much of what we now know about the park is what we discovered once we were in Chile.


Hiking around Glacier Grey

Travel Logistics

My friends and I met up in Washington D.C. and from there had flights scheduled to Panama, Santiago and then to Punta Arenas in Southern Chile. Our Panama flight was delayed because of a fuel leak, meaning a hotel in Panama for the night and a 24-hour delay to all our plans. The rest of the flights were uneventful. After arriving in Punta Arenas, we took a 3-hour bus ride to the town of Puerto Natales. Natales is the gateway town to Torres del Paine and is loaded with backpacker hostels, gear shops, and amazing street food. Here we were able to stock up on any last minute items needed for the trek (stove fuel, cookies, etc.) I chose to bring most of my food for the days that I’d be backpacking with me from home rather than mess with finding everything I wanted in small town shops.


These folks gave us a ride, saving us from a few extra hours walking
While very remote, the park is fairly easy to access by both bus and hitchhiking. The ride is about 2 hours to the park entrance and then another 15 – 45 minutes depending on where you are going inside the park. We soon learned that there isn’t a reliable bus system in the park, so without a car one is forced into hitching rides or waiting for one of about two buses that pass throughout the day.

The Trek

Because the weather in Patagonia is so unpredictable, one visitor’s day might be completely different than someone else's only a few miles away. That being said, we lucked out and had excellent weather for almost an entire week. There were still days when I would go from 4 layers to a t-shirt and back to 4 layers in about a 20-minute period, but no major storms.


Since the newly implemented campsite reservation system requires all reservations in advance, I wasn’t able to hike the complete Torres del Paine circuit as I had hoped. I still enjoyed five solid days cruising through some of the most amazing landscapes that I’ve ever seen and was able to hike the entire W trail.

Day one in the park we took a bus, then walked, and finally hitched a ride with a nice Chilean couple in a van to a campground called Pehoe. Once at camp, the clouds briefly parted and we got our first glimpse of the jagged peaks Patagonia is known for. We spent the evening climbing around on the lakeside cliffs, scouting out the local wildlife, and sharing stories with other campers until the rain encouraged us to call it an early night.

Los Cuernos peeking out over Lake Pehoe

Josh and Sarah exploring the cliffs near Glacier Grey

Day two we planned to hike to Las Torres, probably the most iconic landmark in the park. Since we were miles from the trailhead and buses weren’t an option until 2:00 pm, we decided to give traveling “al dedo” another shot. We got picked up by a great group of folks from China who were luckily going to the towers as well and took us all the way to the trailhead. The hike up to Mirador Las Torres is fairly mellow and only gets steepish towards the very end. The weather was pretty foggy on the ascent, but cleared up nicely once we got to the top, probably just to show off. I mean, look at those things... 

Mirador Las Torres
On day three in the park we finally had campsite reservations along the trail. We took a catamaran over to Paine Grande on the other side of the park and started hiking towards Glacier Grey.  This trail was a few miles of gentle uphill followed by a steep descent to the valley that this giant glacier calls home. The trail (by far the windiest area I encountered) offered spectacular views of mountain lakes on one side and massive peaks on the other. We got to camp fairly early and had plenty of time to relax, make a good meal, and enjoy the scenery.

Lakes on the left and this guy on the right as we hiked up to Glacier Grey
One of many icebergs floating around near Glacier Grey
Day four was our rest day. We slept in, got camp cleaned up, and then went to see what all the hype was about surrounding Glacier Grey. It’s pretty rad, but only if you’re into cool things. The icebergs surrounding it weren’t bad either. After an hour or so or staring and taking pictures, we headed back to camp, grabbed our packs, and took off to our next campsite…Paine Grande.


The view from our campsite at Paine Grande
Day five in the park was by far my favorite of the whole trip. I woke up around 6:00, broke camp, and was on the trail by 6:30. My friends decided earlier on that they wanted to go to Argentina rather than finish hiking the full W with me, so it became a solo-hiking day. I rallied down the trail for about 4 hours and only saw two other people. By 10:00 I had arrived at the Mirador Britanico and had the whole place to myself thanks to the early start. The views here were unreal cool with snaggle tooth peaks surrounding nearly the entire valley; easily one of the raddest places I’ve ever been.

Approaching the Mirador Britanico

One of my favorite views of the trip was this river running through the incredible valley

Proof that I was actually there

The incredibly peaceful Lago Nordenskjöld

Massive granite walls along the trail to the Los Cuernos campground
The rest of the day was pretty cruiser and I rolled into camp after a twenty-something mile day by about 5:00. Dinner was a mountain house meal, then another mountain house meal, then a plate of pasta from some new friends, and then a sleeve of cookies…good eatin after a great day on the trail. That night was the first (and only) major rainstorm of the trip. I spent a few hours playing cards and adventure chatting in a cramped tent with some other campers, then headed to my own and dozed off to the sounds of a Patagonian downpour.

Fun Patagonia fact (that might be obvious to folks who think about these things more than I do) - Because the region is soo far south, during the summer it is light outside until well after 10:00pm and then light again before 6:00am. Kind of convenient for playing outside. Another nighttime feature that I found cool is that the stars at night seemed to be moving super fast (like almost airplane speeds), I’m assuming because of the earth’s rotation. Don’t quote me on that science, but it was cool to watch.

The rest of my time in South America was spent in Argentina enjoying the blue beauty of the Perito Moreno glacier, taste testing alfajores in El Calafate, and checking out the seafood scene at the bottom of the world in Punta Arenas.

A huge chunk of the Perito Moreno glacier breaking off and splashing into the water below. Photo - Josh Spurlock

Stoked on snow...and not showering in days

The glacier was incredibly and insanely massive

Making friends on the docks of Punta Arenas

My disappointed face when what we thought were penguins actually weren't penguins


Gear


Peregrine Altai 20 Sleeping Bag
I chose to take this bag from Peregrine because its fill is a Primaloft down blend, meaning the best of both the down and synthetic worlds. The bag compresses really small (I fit it in a 5L stuff sack), but was still warm enough and had enough loft to keep me toasty in nighttime temps right around freezing. I generally slept in only a base layer and never had problems being cold. The bag also seemed to breath well and never felt clammy. The zippered pocket was great for keeping track of my earplugs (a must have for hostels, group campsites, and tent mates who snore) and the drawcord hood sealed in the extra bit of heat that I needed on a couple of the chillier nights.


Outdoor Designs Diablo Tech Gloves
Patagonia is known for its hurricane force winds that will wrestle you any and all hours of the day. These gloves did an excellent job of blocking out that wind, but still breath well enough that I didn’t have to worry about overheating while hiking. Thick enough to protect, but thin enough that I could still adjust settings on my camera without taking them off…the perfect soft-shell glove.

Peregrine Ultralight Stuff Sacks
Because I opted for an ultralight pack that offered very few organization options, these stuff sacks were crucial in keeping my gear separated. I had 4 different sizes and used them to store clothing, food, cooking supplies, and other random essentials. The colors made it easy to grab exactly the bag I was looking for in my pack without having to remove anything.

Olicamp Ion Stove
I chose the Ion stove because of its size and weight. Coming in at only 1.5 oz. it’s barely noticeable weight-wise, but definitely packs a punch. I only used the stove to heat water for dehydrated meals and oatmeal, and each time my water was boiling in just a couple minutes. The Ion is definitely a head turner when cooking in hostels and camp kitchens. I watched other camper’s eyes widen as they looked at the size of the Ion compared to their own stoves. Paired with the space saver mug, this is now my go to for ultralight trips where I can cook everything by heating up water.


Despite our lack of planning, delayed flights, not hiking everything I wanted to, and being sick the last few days of the trip, Patagonia was still one of the best adventures I have ever experienced. While I’ve been a lot of cool places, I’ve never seen another area with so many incredible landscapes all packed together so closely. This region is both barren and blooming with life, perfectly peaceful and overwhelmingly amazing. It's a place that I dreamed about for years, and will continue to dream about for years to come.






Tyler Jones is a mediocre climber, terrible runner, self proclaimed campfire cook, advocate of playing outside, and Communications Specialist (whatever that means) at Liberty Mountain.









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