Rudolph Karl Glocker, Founder, Burgeon Outdoor
I founded Burgeon Outdoor in 2019 with the express mission of creating a better tomorrow for mountain communities, such as Lincoln, NH where we are based. I wanted to create a company that not only provided outstanding products and service, but that was also active in the social fabric of its community.
This is why we make our products in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, have flexible hours for our employees, and donate 5% of our sales to our environmental and community efforts. It was important to me to create a company that made a positive impact economically, environmentally, and socially.
When we opened our doors to the public in 2019, demand was strong. Hikers and skiers loved that they could see not only where their products were made, but actually meet the people making them. The experience in the store was key – it was not just a store, it was an experiential retail concept, where you could see the batches of fabric work their way across the sewing floor and eventually to the racks where they were sold.
The holiday season was a busy one for us. Burgeon continued to expand — in terms of both its workforce as well as its product line. The future seemed bright. Our impact in the community also expanded as we worked with non-profits such as New England Disabled Sports and Ski for MS.
On March 7th, 2020, we hosted an open house at our studio. We invited our customers, the local community, businesses, and non-profits from across the White Mountains to our studio. We introduced not only ourselves, but also local businesses and organizations. We were quickly immersing ourselves in the community. The response was amazing. Great things lied ahead.
Less than one week later, the whole world changed.
The COVID-19 pandemic had caused a shut-down of almost all economic activity in the US. NH was ‘closed’ for business. As a fledgling company, Burgeon relied on an in-person retail experience to establish its brand and story. Though we had a strong start, we had yet to create the following that would allow us to survive the harsh economic downturn ahead of us.
When the whole world appeared to be falling into a malaise of disease and economic collapse, what was Burgeon to do?
We made the decision to focus on our mission – creating a better tomorrow for mountain communities. Within days, we converted 100% of our production to masks — and started giving them away for free.
We sent masks to local first responders, grocery store workers, food delivery charities, hospitals, mental health agencies, and senior living centers. We saw this crisis as an opportunity to live our mission when our community needed us the most.
Soon we started making masks available to New Hampshire residents. No charge for shipping or handling, completely free. We soon expanded to this effort to New England and then the whole United States. I told our followers “Burgeon will continue to supply these masks free of charge until they are no longer needed or until we can no longer sustain our business”.
Soon, the phone lines were buzzing. “How can we support your efforts?” Local stitchers volunteered to make masks if we would supply the materials – which we did. Others found old fabric in their attics and basements and shipped it to us to alleviate the shortage that was rampant at that time.
Soon, customers were on our website buying t-shirts, base layers, hats and more. Sales rebounded enough to keep the lights on – and many of those customers are ardent supporters of Burgeon to this day.
More importantly, however, Burgeon established a powerful bond with our local community and customers. People understood and witnessed that we were a different type of company. A company that not only had a laudable mission, but one that relentlessly pursued it, even when things were bleak.
Internally, our employees saw our commitment to the community and embraced it. They realized the importance and impact of their work. Our shared sacrifices united us as a team.
Today Burgeon continues to thrive. Sales are strong. We continue to add more employees and expand our product line. Whatever future challenges we may face, we remain resolute in our ability to not only overcome them, but to make a positive impact in their community while doing so.
You can learn more about Burgeon’s mission and products by visiting our website – www.burgeonoutdoor.com. ~ Rudy Glocker, Founder
About the Author: Rudolph Karl Glocker is the Founder of Burgeon Outdoor. Burgeon’s mission is to help mountain communities flourish. Burgeon accomplishes its mission by employing local talent, giving its employees flexible hours, a share in the company’s success, and by being an active member in the social fabric of the community. 5% of Burgeon’s sales go directly into supporting its charitable and environmental efforts. Burgeon is located in Lincoln, New Hampshire.
Prior to founding Burgeon, Rudy was the President of Iliac Golf, a golf apparel company located in Carlsbad, California. During his tenure Rudy initiated the transition of the company from a wholesale to direct to consumer focus.
Prior to Iliac, Rudy served as Managing Partner of pediped footwear, a children’s footwear designer, manufacturer, and marketer. Rudy Glocker led sales and distribution for the company. In addition to managing large US and international customers, Rudy also oversaw customer service, supply chain management, logistics, marketing, overall corporate strategy and pediped’s retail rollout in China. He was active in product design, especially as it related to materials and marketability. Rudy sold his ownership in pediped in June 2017 and left the company after a brief transition period.
Prior to joining pediped as Chief Operating Officer in 2008, Rudy was a Vice President in Goldman Sachs’ securities division. At Goldman, he supported US-based clients in corporate strategy and across a variety of products including emerging markets, common equity and structured products. Rudy spent his earlier career, pre-business school, at Credit Suisse and at Byelocorp International, a distributor of sporting goods in the former Soviet Union (where he was based in Minsk, Belarus).
Rudy currently serves as President of the Granite Outdoor Alliance. He is a Trustee Emeriti of the Aloha Foundation where he served as Treasurer for four years and chaired the Audit Committee for five years. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an MA and BA in Political Science from Penn State University, where he was a letterman on the football team.