May 20, 2020
One way that publicly traded companies demonstrate their integrity and authenticity is to support causes related to their business sector—so the best outdoor brands should genuinely love the outdoors and the natural world, right?
Let’s look at how some outdoor brands give back to causes supporting the great outdoors:
Back in 1883, GA Krause laced up his original, groundbreaking Wolverine boots. Since then, the company has been dedicated to creating “good products for good people.” Now a global marketer of high-quality, branded footwear, apparel and accessories, their lines include the well-respected Merrell®, Saucony®, and Wolverine® brands, as well as classics that wear well and boast rabid followings, like Hush Puppies®, Keds®, and Sperry®. Wolverine’s causes include:
The Merell brand practices sustainable manufacturing, using post-consumer, recycled insoles, dyes that save water, responsibly sourced goose down, and more.
Via the ReChaco program, Chaco sandals are designed for maximum reparability to stay out of landfills, though the ReChaco program.
Saucony's Run For Good Foundation supports causes related to keeping kids outdoor-active and healthy--and has donated over $1 million.
Wolverine’s Worldwide Foundation, beginning in 1959, supports charities related to the environment, culture, art, and public humanitarian service.
Project Bootstrap supports apprenticeship programs and schooling in skilled construction trades. In 2017, Wolverine donated work boots to skilled-trade students across the country.
Wolverine belongs to the Conservation Alliance. Founded in 1989, this association of outdoor companies donates membership fees to community-based organizations protecting threatened habitats and outdoor recreation.
The company has also donated free shoes for elementary students on MLK Day and supported fundraising for breast cancer awareness via the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Camping World’s business is built around RVing and the Great Outdoors, selling outdoor and active sports products since 1966. Their 200 stores in 36 states are central hubs for the RV lifestyle. A well-established, but still much younger, business than our Wolverine example, Camping World has greatly supported their RV community. Perhaps the best example is their:
Comprehensive blog with valuable, detailed advice on topics related to outdoor experiences and living well while RVing.
Thor Industries was founded in 1980, with the purchase of the venerable Airstream brand by company principals, Peter Orthwein and Wade Thompson. Going public in 1984, Thor has grown exponentially through strategic acquisitions. Now, their subsidiaries (combined) make them the largest RV manufacturer in the world.
The LEAP Program (Learn. Engage. Achieve. Perform.), is a hands-on, immersive, fun, and educational program in the company's hometown. It promotes RV-industry skills and careers, with employees teaching kids about everything from product design and engineering to business management. Curriculum is customized for 5th, 8th grade, and high school students.
Thor supports First Descents by donating RVs to the program, which enables kids and young adults with cancer or other health challenges to experience outdoor adventures that can change their lives, free of charge.
Thor supports the United Way, Habitat for Humanity, and the National Forest Foundation.
Thor's Pick Up America program to conserve natural resources, keeping the planet healthy for future generations of campers to enjoy. This company promotion brought pledges from people across the country to pick up 226 tons of trash in 2019--and the program is ongoing.
As a bonus, these companies also typically run their operations sustainably. For example, by designing headquarters that promote energy conservation and employee well-being, using recycled and recyclable supplies and product components, paying attention to supply chain responsibility, funding employee volunteer days, and more.
Sometimes, investing is about more than the balance sheet. If this sums up your investment strategy, and you’re looking for outdoor stocks worth supporting with your investment dollars, consider brands like these!