Based in Johnson, Vermont, GreenRep.org was launched in September 2008 by Danny Clayton, a veteran sales representative with more than 20 years experience in the industry. The company, which donates five percent of all profits to green organizations and educational sources, was created with a mission to sell green products and advance green initiatives in the surf, skate, snow and outdoor industries.
Clayton got started with his career as a rep in 1987 when his uncle, veteran O’Neill rep Gary Clayton, got him involved as a sub-rep. More than two decades later, Clayton has developed his own company based solely on his two passions, recycling and the outdoors, and doing what he says he was cut-out for: being on the road.
In his down time, Clayton spends time at the antique store he owns with wife, Christine Ryan.
Tranworld Business caught up with Clayton to ask him a few questions about his new endeavor.
TW: You've been involved in the industry at a high level with Oakley and Burton. Can you tell me a bit more about your history in the snowboard industry?
In Oakley management I was eastern regional manager for a year or so and then became sales director of Oakley Canada. I moved with my wife and daughter to Montreal. We liked Montreal and Oakley Canada, but when it came time to renew my contract, I resigned. City living was not really our gig. I left Canada with no job and a rough idea of ramping-up the Antique biz which we had kept going while we were in Canada, and re-entering the repping world. At that time an old buddy of mine, Chris Copley, reached out on behalf of the VP of sales from Burton (Clark Gundlach – another old friend from the O'Neill days) to see if I was interested in a position at Burton to run sales for Anon optics and RED. Long story short, I took the job. It was a great run, but after two years or so of meetings about meetings about meetings, I resigned with the idea of greenrep ready to roll and getting back to windshield time.
TW: Why do you think this business model will be effective?
Because I believe in it with my heart and soul.
TW: With the economy the way it is, a lot of people are scrutinizing their donations and budgets. How can you afford to cut profits by 5 percent?
Thanks to some great years with Oakley and being a cheap bastard by nature, I have low overhead. Giving back to our industry and to the preservation of our natural resources is not only important, but I consider it my duty as a citizen of the planet. Most businesses could do this if they made the choice to do so.
TW: Has your strategy been generating interest from companies and retailers?
Yes, I have had numerous companies contact me about selling their lines. Because the green movement is realatively new to our industry, many of the companies have been small, but full of passion. Among them are Hippy Tree, Fabel Headware, E.N.D. Footwear, Livity and Gramicci (all of which we presently sell) and others such as Arbor Apparel, Kanabeach and Woolagain Socks which we had to pass on for various reasons.
All of these brands share in-common is a real passion for sustainability. Dealers have been intrigued, but many still believe (wrongly) that doing good for the environment means spending a lot more. Costs for organic cotton, hemp and recycled poly's have come down dramatically as demand has gone up. Greenrep is committed to eco-textiles, however, there is a whole line of thinking, which I definitely subscribe to, that recognizes that being "organic" does not add up to a whole lot if the cotton is grown in Turkey, woven in India, cut and assembled in China and then shipped half way around the world to our market. We are looking at companies that are investing in rescuing wasteland to put it back into agricultural use (Gramicci growing hemp in China) and/or growing, harvesting and manufacturing vertically in a co-operative environment designed to provide safe work places, fair wages and good living conditions to the employees (Livity making Fedoras in South America).
I understand that change takes time and accept that the move to sustainability in textiles and hard goods will be protracted, but it pisses me off to see some of the big brands claiming "green" because they have added a few organic cotton blanks into their 100 screen tee-shirt lines. Companies like Patagonia, Gramicci and Helly Hansen have taken real leadership roles in legit greening of their brands. Most of our industry – surf, skate and snow – has a lot of work to do. I want to plug how stoked I am that we elected a president that actually gives a shit about the environment!
TW: Are you in talks with any other snowboard specific companies to rep their gear?
What's your outlook for sales this season?
Up slightly for my business, flat to down 10 percent industry-wide. Manufacturers have yet to get stung for the 50% off sales dealers had prior to Christmas, and "area" dated invoices come due in about a week. Accounts receivables will be very busy late winter into spring this year.