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Evo growth continues in retail, travel and hospitality

Published April 18, 2023

MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) — Bryce Phillips, founder and CEO of Evo, may have spent his formative years as a professional skier but his Seattle-based company, founded in 2001, has become a major retailer selling equipment in more than a half-dozen categories.

Evo’s reach — online and brick-and-mortar — includes ski, snowboard, wake, surf, skate, camping and bike—mountain bikes mostly with a smattering of gravel from brands like Santa Cruz, Transition, Evil, Norco, Orbea and others. About 70 percent of the company’s revenue comes from online sales.

Evo has also branched into adventure travel through evoTrip with packages to Portugal, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador and other locations. In addition, Evo operates hotels in Salt Lake City and Whistler, British Columbia. 

Despite offering a wide array of activities through its retail, rental and travel operations, Phillips said mountain biking has become a core business for the company. 

“Mountain biking is absolutely a pillar of our business,” Phillips said in a brief interview following his talk Tuesday at the Sea Otter Classic Summit. 

Evo’s home base in Seattle now tallies some 1,000 employees worldwide. Phillips founded Evo as an online retailer selling used ski equipment, a natural progression given his extensive experience as a skier. His uncle introduced Phillips to skiing at Mt. Ashland, Oregon. And as he told more than 100 attendees at the summit, skiing became his passion.

Despite his record as a professional skier and salesman selling ski equipment online, Phillips has — over the years — become a major player in the mountain bike market selling units online as well as at his brick-and-mortar outlets. “It’s central to where we’re going as a company,” he added. 

And Phillips has embraced e-mountain bikes selling primarily Santa Cruz, Orbea, Norco and Scott. But Phillips, at age 45, married and the father of two boys, six and nine, hasn’t given up on pushing pedals the hard way. Still, e-MTBs have given older riders a way to stay active and get to the top of the hill. “They still get to do what they’ve been doing for years,” he said.

At the moment, he said, selling bikes is a challenge as retail margins get squeezed due to a backlog of inventory, a recovering supply chain and tightening credit. But Phillips take the long view, adding, “Inventory — it’s always too little or too much.”

And while many businesses in the outdoor and cycling industry are feeling the pinch of higher interest rates and a tightening of business loan standards, Phillips said Evo has a sound relationship with its bank. “Knock on wood,” he adds with a grin.

A strong banking partner is essential as Evo continues to grow from its first brick-and-mortar store launched in Seattle in 2005. Since then, the company has expanded into the Far West, deep into the Northwest, British Columbia, and across the Pacific into Japan.

Evo has retail operations in Denver, Colorado; Portland and Hood River, Oregon; Snoqualmie Pass, Washington; and five locations at Whistler as well as in Blackcomb, British Columbia.

In 2021, the company acquired Callaghan Country Wilderness Adventures in Whistler, and with it a backcountry lodge called the Journeyman Lodge. And in 2022 Evo bought Rhythm Japan, a seven-store chain founded by two Australians, with retail locations in Furano, Niseko and Hakuba, Japan.

Evo is also expanding into the hospitality market with a location in Salt Lake City that includes a hotel, bouldering gym, skatepark, and additional retail space. Then in July 2022, the company announced plans to build a similar complex in Tahoe City, California. And last year it bought a city block in Seattle for $17.5 millions with plans to build a mixed-use space that includes office space, sports facilities, and retail stores. 



Bryce Phillips at the Sea Otter Summit on Tuesday.
Topics associated with this article: Sea Otter Classic

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