Jonson Kuhn | North Forty News
New owners assure no changes will take place with ownership transition
50 years is a long time to do anything but especially run a successful business. That’s why Randy and Nancy Morgan, owners of Outpost Sunsport, have decided to retire.
“We’ve done this for a very long time and it’s kind of grueling, generally if I’m in Fort Collins I’m at work seven days a week for the last 49 years. My wife and I are both healthy and it’s a little bit of a complex business, we just would like to be able to do some other things while we’re still able to do so, whether that’s skiing or traveling, we just would like to do more before we find out we can’t do those things anymore.
Though a decision like retiring is never easy, Randy said that the decision was made easier by the fact that they were fortunate enough to find an equally passionate group of outdoor enthusiasts, who share their philosophy of taking care of customers and community commitment, to take over the business.
“Selling to Riley Siddoway is the perfect handoff to partners that are already involved in the outdoors and ski business, and who want to be involved in the Fort Collins community,” Randy said.
Randy said another factor in the decision to sell versus keep the business in the family was the fact that the couple’s children have already pursued other careers outside the retail arena. Their daughter is a director with the Colorado health institute with a one-month-old daughter and their son lives in Loveland where he enjoys a career as a mechanical engineer.
We don’t have any plans to relocate, we have a nice spot in Fort Collins that we like and so we’re not planning on moving. Both of our kids are within the Front Range, our daughter is in Denver, and we have a one-month-old granddaughter, so that’s really great and we want to be able to see them and see our granddaughter,” Randy said. “It makes it very difficult to contemplate leaving the area since our kids are here.”
Though Randy and his wife Nancy are looking forward to retirement, after 50 long years of serving a community, they know and love, it’s hard to say there won’t be aspects of the business they’ll miss. Randy said the thing they’ll miss the most are the various connections they’ve established with people along the way.
“The relationships, number one probably with all of the phenomenal customers that we’ve worked with for the past five decades; we have families that we have served into their fourth and fifth generations, it’s pretty special and really rewarding. Hopefully, we’ve taken care of them to the point that we’ve earned their trust and have continued to do business with quite a few families who now have grandkids or great kids coming in to shop with us, that’s really special” Randy said. “The other part of that is the employees, we’ve had many employees, probably around 1500 employees, and that’s been really special, many of whom we still keep in touch with and value as family.”
As for Riley Siddoway, he’s said that he and his partners have no plans of making changes to the formula that has made Outpost Sunsport, 931 E. Harmony Road, a local retail institution going into its sixth decade.
“We’re in the customer service business, not in the ski or furniture business,” Riley said. “It’s of paramount importance to me that we do not forget we’re here to serve the customers and not lose our way.”
“The new owners appreciate that there will be no staff changes,” Randy added. “Matt Sisko, who has been with the team since 2006, will continue as store manager; and Outpost Sunsport’s customers will continue to receive the same truly personal service they have for 50 years. I especially like being able to share that the new owner of Outpost Sunsport is an avid outdoorsman with years of experience in the field.”
Siddoway operates Uphill Pursuits in Bozeman, Mont., and he was looking to purchase another like-minded business. As he and his two partners learned more about Outpost Sunsport – and what a leading-edge company it was – they wanted to get involved. Riley’s parents live in Colorado – and he’s lived in the state on three different occasions – which gives him a high level of comfort with the Colorado lifestyle. He and his partners couldn’t be more impressed with how Randy and his team have run the business. Randy, who said he’ll be on hand at the store for “a few months” during the transition, said retirement is an opportunity to wax nostalgic on the storied past of Outpost Sunsport.
While a top CSU student-athlete in track and field, Randy was a loyal customer who started working part-time at The Outpost Trading Company, located at 112 W. Laurel Street. Before becoming stepping into a partnership and ownership role, Randy had a significant talent at high jumping and even had a significant run at the Olympics, giving pros like Dwight Stones a run for their money and only missed the Olympic tryouts by one-half an inch.
“I was a high jumper for Colorado State and my best jump was seven feet and one and one-half inches and those days in the 70s, that was a pretty good jump,” Randy said. “Dwight Stones, we were competing in one meet, probably in 1975 where he broke the world record. I was kind of good competition for the best guys in the country. It was really fun and enjoyable, and I still support the track program at Colorado State, that means a lot to me.”
Randy held a deep understanding of outdoor gear and the activities that Outpost’s customers wanted to pursue. When then-owner JV Peacock, a recent CSU graduate, started the small backpacking/mountaineering store across the street from campus – it was one of a half-dozen such stores in town. JV and Randy forged a great working relationship and succeeded in growing the fledgling business.
Randy graduated from CSU and became partners with JV in 1976. Outpost quickly became one of the largest specialty stores selling cross-country skis and gear in Colorado. The staff taught ski lessons through the Fort Collins Parks and Recreation Department, partnered with Poudre School District, and led tours up the Poudre Canyon. In 1983, Outpost added alpine ski gear and clothing to the store, which was an immediate success. The business soon started hosting the legendary Warren Miller film tour, which will once again be shown this year at the Fort Collins Lincoln Center on November 11.
The early years of the Morgan-Peacock partnership also saw the beginning of the Randy-Nancy partnership. Nancy was a regular customer when Randy, smitten and thinking about how to get to know her better, offered Nancy a job. She took it, and the future ownership team was born. Randy said that while she’s not always one for the spotlight, much of the credit for the success of the business is due to Nancy.
My wife Nancy doesn’t like any recognition whatsoever, but she’s been an incredible partner for many years, so I just want to recognize that even though she prefers to be in the background, she has really held it all together,” Randy said.
In the early 1990s, the Morgan’s expanded the operation when they started selling patio furniture – now a major segment of Outpost Sunsport’s business, as the shop provides much of the outdoor patio furniture to local breweries, swimming activity centers, golf courses, and more. In 1996, Outpost Sunsport relocated to a new building on Harmony Road, which was expanded in 2006.
With easy access from all directions and nearly unlimited parking, the store’s client base has grown to encompass all of Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming. The commercial patio business has grown to include clients located throughout the U.S. Randy Morgan is an integral part of the nonprofit community. Randy and his wife/partner Nancy are involved with about 100 nonprofits and have been able to substantially give back to the community thanks to the support of their loyal clientele. The Morgans have supported CSU, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, Poudre School District, UC Health Foundation, Respite Care, Colorado Open Lands, United Way, and many other organizations that emphasize environmental sustainability and habitat preservation. The Gardens on Spring Creek largely owes the realization of its vision to Morgan.
“Randy was an amazing partner during the capital campaign to complete the Gardens on Spring Creek,” said Michelle Provaznik, executive director for The Gardens. “He worked tirelessly, advocating on our behalf throughout the community to bring the vision of The Gardens to life. The impact of those efforts will be felt throughout our community for years to come as The Gardens fosters environmental stewardships while serving tens of thousands of visitors each year.”
Outpost Sunsport has gained a national reputation among its peers and sporting goods vendors. It has previously earned designation as SnowSports Industries of America Ski Retailer of the Year for the Rocky Mountains. And major ski gear companies such as Salomon have regularly ranked the store’s sales staff among the top tier for retail performance.
Siddoway plans to continue to offer the same top-tier products but embraces the philosophy that you recommend the product that works best for the customer, even if it’s the cheapest item in the store. Serving satisfied customers, as Outpost has for generations, is the priority.
Customers shouldn’t notice anything different under the new ownership group, which is how Siddoway wants it. His style is to be in the background and take care of his employees, who take care of Outpost Sunsport’s most important resource, its customers.