Road trips. Just the mention of those two words incites a little pulse of adrenaline into my veins. As long as I can remember, our family would load up the station wagon and head out on adventures, sometimes to the mountains, sometimes to the deserts, and many memorable times to the sea.
As I became older, I found ways to incorporate more road trips into my life by inviting myself on friends’ family road trips. When my friends and I became of driving age, well, any road was simply a pathway to new adventures. As the need for income became apparent, I found that the most rewarding work involved some sort of travel. My marine maintenance business, Mariner Marine Works, was an avenue to yacht deliveries where a last minute crew would rendezvous to sail racing and pleasure boats to their next destination. Later, as I got into whitewater kayaking, I conjured up a business, Salamander, that created paddling gear for the burgeoning sport. Some of the best aspects of this business were the road trips to attend grassroots river festivals, kayak competitions, and local events put on by like-minded river fanatics.
My travels took me across the continental United States, almost always accompanied by my dog Otis. All these road trips with Otis started to reveal some opportunities for dog products. It was during a mountain biking trip in Los Padres National Forest that a friend’s need to offer water to her dog created the spark for a performance dog gear company. Ruffwear was started in 1994, and of course, I saw this as a new opportunity for more grassroots road trips to spread the cheer and get the word out.
That was over twenty years ago and hundreds of thousands of miles of road trips, as well as flights to destinations that the road from home simply would not reach. As I ponder my hunger for “road trips,” I am realizing it has been the opportunity of learning from the journey that has been a driving force. Every road trip offers the opportunity to reach unique places and connect with new people, new customs, and diverse perspectives. Exploring new environments and the people who make those places so unique is really the end to the means for what I thought was just another road trip.
The bonds created when traveling with friends, employees, business partners, and family, and meeting new friends through these travels, has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. The valued partners we get to work with provide Ruffwear with high-end knits out of Italy, drop forged and strength-rated metal hardware from our friends in Taiwan, coated webbing from suppliers in the US, and the list goes on.
Recently, I made my first circumnavigation of the earth, visiting distributors and manufacturing partners around the globe who have become friends. And, as we head into our next season’s product offering, I am reminded of all of the experiences and memories that each of our new products are for me. The opportunity to work with Pittards Leather, founded in the UK in 1826, has been inspiring. The development of our new Timberline™ leashes and collars conjures up memories of exploring the English countryside learning about sustainably raised cattle, the source of our leather. Pittards is committed to quality and performance leather products and has been producing their water-resistant leather that we’re using in our collars and leashes for over 30 years.
Our continued commitment to product innovation extends through our Spring/Summer 2016 line, including a Strobel slip last construction in our dog boot manufacturing process and a re-engineered Headwater™ Collar with new hardware that plays well with the structure of the waterproof webbing.
We invite you to explore these, and all of our new products and discover what makes them amazing. As we recall the memories of “road tripping” and working with talented partners who contribute a specific and diverse set of talents from around the globe, we think you, too, will create some memorable experiences as you don some of our newest offerings and head out on your next road trip.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was on to something when he said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” Enjoy your road trips.
Here’s a more in-depth look at our new leather gear and our partnership with Pittards: