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Even through the Great Recession, Evans saw his sales skyrocket. In 2011, the company grew by 60 percent; it was up 50 percent in 2012, and another 30 percent already this year.
Mountain Sports Festival Lineup
Rightline will be right at home at the Outdoor Gear Builders Village, a new feature of Asheville's Mountain Sports Festival, set for May 24 26. The village will showcase the wares of 18 local outdoor adventure gear manufacturers, including Rightline Gear, Bellyak, Blue Ridge Chair Works, Earthsports Designs, ENO, Fritz Orr Canoe, Invert SUPS, SkinFare, SylvanSport, Tsuga Canopies, Watershed and others.
"The idea for the Outdoor Gear Builders Village grew out of our desire to help Western North Carolina grow the outdoor manufacturing industry," said Kyle Mundt, SylvanSport's marketing director. "We thought it would be cool to invite some other interesting bike and paddle companies, and exhibit together like the Open Air Demo at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City."
He's been turned down by traditional banks, despite impressive revenue growth. "It's very time consuming to answer all their questions, and you'll still not fit their formula," Evans said.
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"They're using the model of the Asheville Brewers Alliance, and there's a lot of enthusiasm," Raker said.
Western North Carolina could be at a tipping point with Rightline Gear and other outdoor manufacturers, said Matt Raker, who heads the AdvantageGreen program at AdvantageWest, the regional economic development agency. Outdoor companies are a good fit for the region's green economy, building on the national parks and forests along with the whitewater industry and increasing number of mountain bike venues.
Evans is focusing on pushing the cargo bags toward more automotive outfitters.
"People started taking more car vacations than flying during the recession," Evans explained.
Such an alliance could help Asheville draw more top manufacturers, just as Asheville's reputation as Beer City helped land Sierra Nevada and New Belgium brewers, Raker said.
The week he moved to Asheville and into the Small Business Incubator at Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College's Enka campus, Evans actually opened two new ventures. He started Melon bicycle company, with fold up cycles, and he rebranded the tent and bag company into Rightline Gear.
The Outdoor Retailer summer and winter markets in Salt Lake City are the largest in North America, with more than 20,000 annual attendees.
Rightline Gear right at home in outdoor gear mecca
Consumers can now find Rightline Gear at Target, Walmart, Amazon and other national retailers.
Rightline Gear offers flexible cargo bags that drivers can strap to the tops of their cars and SUVs without cargo racks. Once they're through with their travels, the waterproof bags can be folded and stored in the closet, a real advantage over hard shell carriers that drivers tend to keep atop their vehicles.
Growing outdoor sectorAlmost five years later, Evans, 45, has sold off the cycle company, but he's built his Rightline Gear into a thriving operation, finding his niche in recreation. Outdoor manufacturers such as Rightline are part of a $19.2 billion industry in North Carolina, employing 192,000 people statewide, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.
The Outdoor Gear Builders Village will be open throughout the three day Mountain Sports Festival May 24 26. Festival competitions include a trail run, Disc Golf Challenge, Asheville Cyclocross Race, Girls on the Run Rise Shine 5K, French Broad Challenge Triathlon, dodgeball tournament, sand volleyball tournament, and more. Musical headliners are locals Brushfire Stankgrass on Friday and New Orleans based Bonerama on Saturday night.
Fortunately, he's been able to find seed money with Mountain BizWorks and the AdvantageWest Opportunity Fund.
"They're killing 5 mph of their fuel efficiency when Prada Black Boots Mens they do that," Evans said.
"Asheville has a real presence on the floor of the trade show," Evans said. "Seems like every twist or turn, you'll run into someone you know from here."
Recently, AdvantageWest hosted a gathering of some 70 representatives of outdoor companies at Highland Brewing, kicking off the Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC.
In addition, Evans has developed cargo saddle bags that can hang on the back of a specific model car. And he's designed pop up tents that can be pitched in the back of SUVs and pickups for people who want to sleep up off the ground while camping.
the A B Tech incubator, Evans employs a staff of four, taking orders and shipping cargo bags and pop up tents out of a 3,400 square foot facility in a South Asheville business park.
But a real challenge has been finding capital to finance his growing inventory.
With the region's rich array of mountains, trails and rivers beckoning to outdoor enthusiasts, Asheville boasts a growing sector of companies catering to those weekend warriors with Prada Sneakers Mens Sale
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