(This story was updated on 4/13/2023.)
The parent company of Black Diamond Equipment announced Thursday that it has appointed Neil Fiske brand president.
Fiske most recently served as CEO of Marquee Brands, a licensing company that owns brands such Dakine, Body Glove, Martha Stewart, Sur La Table, and several others. He has also led Billabong International, Eddie Bauer, and Gap over the years.
In an interview with The Daily, Neil, who grew up in Colorado, said the job appealed to him because it marries his passion for the outdoors with his love of brand building.
“Black Diamond is literally, by its name, a jewel of a brand,” Fiske said. “It has always been an innovator. The brand’s DNA is very much embedded in that endemic space and has stayed true to being the best at what they do. Not necessarily the biggest, but the best, and that matters a lot to me, particularly in categories that are also passions of mine like climbing, skiing, and hiking.”
Getting back to leading all aspects of a brand also appealed to Fiske after most recently leading a company focused on licensing.
“Licensing is a great model, and it makes good economic sense in a lot of ways. But there’s something about giving up control of your brands – that’s tricky and you have to manage it very carefully,” Fiske said. “I think we did. But it’s not as much fun for me as running a brand in its entirety.”
“So really it was combination of getting back into the outdoor active space, focusing on a great brand that I think could double or triple in size, and being able to run the totality of the brand, from brand positioning to product to global channel expansion,” he added.
Fiske previewed what could be ahead for Black Diamond.
“We’ll stay true to the roots and the heritage, but we’ll modernize the brand and we’ll bring it forward,” he said. “There are categories that we can expand into, like apparel and footwear, that are logical extensions of the sports that we serve. And then there are geographies in Europe where Black Diamond has high brand recognition but that are still very underdeveloped.”
Black Diamond is owned by the publicly traded Clarus Corporation.
“We are thrilled to have someone of Neil’s experience and talent leading Black Diamond, a brand we believe has tremendous growth potential globally,” Clarus Executive Chairman Warren Kanders said in a statement. “Neil fully appreciates the brand’s 50-year heritage, its culture, and core values, but also the need to modernize and look forward. With this appointment, we look forward to building Black Diamond to its fullest potential.”