In light of Merrell’s 40th anniversary, FN asked employees at the outdoor brand to reflect on its evolution over the decades, and how the company has navigated the unprecedented challenges of the past year.
Read on to learn about the ways Merrell employees have bonded over their love of the outdoors and worked together to weather the global pandemic.
Fondest memory at Merrell:
“A few years ago, we sponsored an obstacle race and did a mini adventure race on the trails at work, and it was wild. The race was team-based, and everyone was pumped, muddy and all smiles. Of course, we had beer at the end, too, which was a great motivator. Our whole team tackling trails, obstacles and challenges together — and having a blast while doing it — really epitomized our brand.” — Dave Leese, senior finance manager (team member since 2014)
“I would say our sales meeting in Whistler, British Columbia, in 2007. It was early in my career and it seemed unreal having all our people together from around the globe celebrating the brand and experiencing the outdoors in a place like that. I felt like I was part of something special and I’ll never forget it.” — John Angle, director of sales (team member since 2005)
“In my first month on the job as a field marketing specialist in the Rocky Mountain region, I had the opportunity to go on my first backpacking trip. We did about 10 miles point-to-point in Yellowstone National Park. At the end, we had to hitchhike back to our car and a really kind couple picked us up. The woman had on a pair of Merrell Sirens and told me she got them many years ago and they had traveled around the country to many National Parks. That became the first of many times I had the chance to hear about the amazing experiences people have in their Merrells and the first of many awe-inspiring trips I have taken while working for the brand.” — Jenny Bernsteen, retail marketing manager (team member since 2016)
Go-to Merrell footwear style for exploring:
“Moab 2 Mid all day. I love the instant comfort and that I can style it the same way I would a sneaker.” — Audrey Langejans, color designer (team member since 2017)
“The Agility Synthesis. The jacquard upper is breathable but still keeps enough water out to stay comfortable. It’s also lightweight and the outsole provides deep enough lugs and enough surface area to be effective on most terrain.” — Matt Stoutenburg, senior marketing specialist (team member since 2015)
“I love my Antora 2s. They are so comfortable and provide really great grip and protection from snow, ice and mud while giving me an athletic feel. I wear them all the time while hiking with my family, which is my favorite outdoor activity.” — Jane Smith, director of digital marketing (team member since 2019)
Favorite outdoor activity:
“Besides trail running and hiking with my Corgi puppy, I love surfing and wakeboarding, mountain biking, geocaching and climbing the dunes out on Lake Michigan.” — Luke Bera, apparel & accessories associate merchandiser (team member since 2017)
“I love hiking and exploring. Getting away from the noise of daily life and out into nature is always a treat. My most memorable hiking trips were with my grandmother and mom. It was awesome getting out on the trail and experiencing new things through the eyes of three generations — all in Merrell.” — Emma Ogren, demand planner (team member since 2013)
“Besides running, I just love to be outdoors. Spending time with my kids in the woods of Michigan and enjoying access to our freshwater lakes is one of my favorite things to do.” — Greg Glover, product management director (team member since 2001)
Biggest change experienced at Merrell:
“Growth — not just in terms of sales and brand awareness, but in inclusion in the outdoors and collaborating with artists and brands that share our purpose and vision.”— A.L.
“Watching the brand evolve into a truly purpose-driven leader in the outdoor industry has been a major positive change in the last several years. We’ve become a brand that actively uses our resources to get people outside as a way to disconnect from the negativity and growing stress of everyday life and reconnect with themselves and the people who matter most.” — M.S.
“COVID. I know that’s cliché, but the pandemic changed so many businesses, and I’m fortunate to have a brand, and a team, pull through this.” — Christine Cramer, virtual product developer (team member since 2016)
Response to the COVID-19 crisis:
“We adapted well and took challenges head-on as they arose. It’s very different when you go from seeing each other every day to only interacting in a virtual world, but with this team, the support and dedication to building a great brand is always top of mind.” — G.G.
“It’s been tough not seeing each other and many of our retail partners face to face. Relationships are so important and we thrive o human contact. The benefi t is we’ve all learned new skills and I am proud of how our team and retail partners have embraced two digital seasons back-to-back.” — J.A.