Founded in 2013 by a small group of gear manufacturers, Outdoor Gear Builders of now includes more than 60 members, and is made up of businesses and organizations representing the entire outdoor industry in Western North Carolina. Our members include: Gear Builders, Experience Providers, Skills Instructors, Outfitters, Retail Shops, Supporting Businesses, and Nonprofits.
In local sourcing
Meet the Executive Director, Andy Williamson
Andy’s business card says Executive Director however he is fortunate to serve many roles – a father and husband, a catalyst, salesman, mentor, and advocate, a project manager, board member, outdoor adventurer, a strategic planner, and visionary. In the Summer of 2020, Andy joined the Outdoor Gear Builders of Western North Carolina as their first Executive Director where he supports the organization in it’s mission to cultivate, connect, and support the community of outdoor industry professionals. Previously Andy has held roles leading his own consulting company helping communities and organizations harness the catalytic power of outdoor recreation in order to foster vibrant active cultures and as the Director of Programs at the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). He is a passionate volunteer dedicated to serving nonprofits and is currently the Board Chair of Bikepacking Roots and held numerous roles in other outdoor and cycling related non-profits over the years.
When not working to grow the outdoor industry in Western North Carolina you can find him on his mountain bike on the many amazing local trails with friends, traveling with his family in their sprinter named Van-Go, and floating and fishing the many local rivers and streams.
Board of Directors
A lifelong outdoor recreation enthusiast, Laurel has participated in almost every adventure sport under the sun. From rock climbing to whitewater kayaking, and marathon running to snowboarding, she’s never lacked for new things to try. These days, she sticks mostly to hiking with her dogs and mountain biking in WNC. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Laurel traveled the world in her role as a public affairs officer for many years before leaving the AF to start her own outdoor photography company, and eventually founding Status Forward, a web design agency that works with outdoor-focused brands.
Russ has been an avid hiker and camper his entire life. He joined the Outdoor Industry 30 years ago; the last 3 years as COO for LightHeart Gear and Excelsior Sewing LLC. He has worn many hats during those years with experience in purchasing, inventory management, government contract administration, shipping, receiving, sales, customer service, PR, HR, IT, and Operations Management. He started attending OGB meetings as soon as he joined LightHeart Gear and joined the Board at the beginning of 2020 as Treasurer. After living in Asheville for seven years, he and his wife Rita moved to Hendersonville, where they live today. They love our mountains and their community.
Allie was first exposed to the OGB during the summer of 2017 at the Annual Campout and has been hooked ever since. Currently the Custom Lead Engineer at Rockgeist, she has been involved in the outdoor industry in Western NC since graduating from NC State in 2018 and loved every second. When not building bikepacking gear, she enjoys exploring nature with her boyfriend and 2 pups.
As a young person growing up in Switzerland, Matt was always looking for US brands in his adopted hometown of Zurich. In time, this hobby developed into an academic interest about why brands succeed or fail when entering foreign markets. After completing his MBA with a focus on international business at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Matt started with K2 Sports, eventually serving as General Manager for Europe Team Sports Platform. In 2010, Matt decided to combine his work experience with his personal interest in branding and new market entry to start Sport Hansa where he serves as Managing Director.
Anna has over a decade of experience in the outdoor industry namely in the events, sales, and marketing sectors. She relocated to WNC in 2011, and currently resides in Mars Hill, NC. Anna is the Events & Strategic Partnerships Manager at Eagles Nest Outfitters, Inc (ENO); spearheading the event program including sponsorships, activations, operations and logistics. She has recently taken on Strategic Partnerships combining her passions of building and growing relationships, environmental stewardship, and expanding diversity, equity, and inclusion within her local community and the outdoor industry. Outside of the office, she enjoys hiking, surfing, fishing, gardening, spending time with her chickens and getting people outside.
Stacey is an outdoor industry veteran with more than 17 years of experience in trade show management. She was appointed Executive Director at the beginning of 2020. During her tenure, she’s helped the organization grow to over 600 members with 14 annual shows servicing 3,000+ retailers. Her and her husband are long-time residents of West Asheville, NC. When not walking their dog in the neighborhood, you’ll find them on weekend adventures hiking, biking or at the beach.
Kara has over a decade of experience working in the outdoor industry. Her love for the outdoor industry started in 2003 when she began working at a summer outdoor adventure camp. After spending 15 years serving a variety of roles including Program Director, Logistics Staff, and Administration in the summer camp, wilderness therapy, and environmental education world, Kara decided to climb into the Challenge Course Industry! Currently, she works as the Director of Program Services for Alpine Towers International. In her role at Alpine Towers, she works directly with customers, setting them up with the tools and information they need to deliver a successful Challenge Course experience. Kara is passionate about the positive power of outdoor experiences and is excited to share that passion with others. She lives in Arden, NC and enjoys spending her time playing outside with family and friends.
Decades of wrenching on bikes and guiding backcountry cycling trips throughout the US led Tim to Kitsbow Cycling Apparel where he’s now the Technical Team Manager, responsible for overseeing the efficient operation of all the machines on the production floor. He fuels his days with coffee, pizza, chocolate, and a passion for problem solving to stay focused on constantly improving the manufacturing process. He fills his free time enjoying the outdoors and laughing with his family or daydreaming about where to go on the next bike adventure.
Spending time in the mountains of Vermont as a child instilled in Alyson her love of the outdoors. After an early career in the fashion industry in the DC metro area, she found her way back to the mountains in Asheville, NC where she has lived for over 20 years. Combining her fashion experience with her love of the outdoors along with a newfound joy for running, she launched Blyss Running in 2015, a women’s running apparel brand. She is passionate about empowering women through running by providing them with functional and comfortable running gear. In her free time, Alyson enjoys running and hiking the trails of WNC, biking the gravel roads, cross country skiing when she can find it, gardening, being a soccer mom and spending time with friends and family.
If depth of experience is the metric by which you judge, few can match Devin’s resume in the outdoor industry. From retailing to guiding, from bikes to whitewater and everything in between, Devin has been involved in a whole host of roles in every corner of the outdoor economy during his 11 years in the industry. A true native son, Devin graduated from UNC Asheville and focused briefly on building a resume in marketing before starting Asheville Adventure Company. During his company’s early beginnings, it has seen tremendous growth as an outfitter in the Asheville area. This has been due in part to Devin’s leadership in brand development, his deep knowledge of the area, and his entrepreneurial talent. In Devin’s quiet moments away from work, he is an avid and well recognized runner. As one of the few sponsored runners in Asheville, Devin’s athletic resume includes a 2019 Shut In Trail Race victory here on his home trails.