MAD ROCK Soap Opera


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Iron Mtn.

Trad climber
Corona, Ca.
Feb 9, 2010 - 01:33pm PT
What it really means is, they are not willing to PAY the living wage for a qualified candidate in L.A. Much like Wal-Mart......

Trad climber
Kennewick wa
Feb 9, 2010 - 01:48pm PT
Too funny...

"Kenny Suh, the new Director of Sales and Marketing for Mad Rock had this to say, “As we have said before, Joe was not and is not an owner or founder of Mad Rock. Alex Kim was our Production Manager in China and was never an owner or a founder of Mad Rock. Kenny Kim? I don’t know who that is. Maybe he is Alex’s relative or something, but as far as I know he has never worked at Mad Rock.”"

BTW I believe Joe, I mean he's climbed at Red, tsssah.

edit: to correct the spelling of tsssah.

Sport climber
Feb 9, 2010 - 02:39pm PT
I could be wrong here, but it is possible that BOTH sides are correct. IIRC, here is a bit of the story:

Mad Rock, the manufacturer, was started and is owned by Young. He formerly made shoes for 5.10 when they moved production to Asia, then he started his own company, completely owning the factories and all.

Joe co-founded Mad Rock Climbing. (Notice the extra word there.) Mad Rock Climbing was the distribution channel for Mad Rock, so they worked closely together. Basically, Joe and his team built the Mad Rock brand in North America.

Joe is a friend of mine, so I'm probably a little biased here, but I'm trying to read all this with an open mind. Joe is a great guy and good for the climbing gear industry, but he does have a weakness. He just doesn't have a good filter sometimes. In other words, he has the rare quality, appreciated by few, vilified by many, of telling people his real opinion on things.

So his comments in that press release about finding employees in SoCal probably directly reflect his experiences with trying to successfully run the business there. He has run successful businesses in New England, Oregon and Washington in the past, so it's not like he's just some beginner who does not know what he's doing.

Personally, I wish him the best. I'm glad for him that he's back up in the Northwest and I'm really looking forward to seeing what he's got hidden up his sleeve with this ClimbX brand.

Trad climber
Feb 9, 2010 - 02:55pm PT
his comments in that press release about finding employees in SoCal probably directly reflect his experiences with trying to successfully run the business there.

i actually thought that la comment was pretty funny.

actually, i did laugh but for a different reason. given the traditional madrock (and presumably climbx) demographic, the greater la area has to be one of the single-biggest markets or potential markets for the brand. so yea, dissing customers in yr mission statement is pretty funny.

climbrunride-- sounds like they should hire you for interim pr.

and best of luck to climbx--
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Feb 9, 2010 - 03:19pm PT
I was at the trade show a few years ago, and saw the Mad Rock booth. Most of the shoe manufacturers display 12 - 15 styles of shoes that they're marketing, with information etc. The Mad Rock booth featured dozens and dozens and dozens of 'styles', with little information - not even a tag beneath each, telling you what it was. I asked someone about it, and he said that they were displaying all their prototypes. The shoes mostly seemed to me to be variations on a theme - light, slip-lasted, velcro-closure bouldering/short route shoes. Pretty much their niche, and varying the colours and styles doesn't make much difference. But it didn't seem very effective marketing.

Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 9, 2010 - 03:20pm PT
Hint... Press releases should NEVER contain dialogue where someone is, "telling people his real opinion on things"

Press releases are FACTS and USEFUL INFORMATION (well, as far as the company is concerned) and NOT opinions.

EDIT: I must agree re: their booth. I have visited the MR booth at many past OR shows and always been bewildered by the cornucopia of crap on the walls. Long on pretty colors but short on substance. So... my opinion based on a few weeks in the industry (g) is FOCUS and DRIVE TO IMPRESS. Unless, of course, you only want to sell to n00bs in LA gyms who thought it would be cool to do that vertical ascending thing! In that case... LAVENDER is the new black!

Social climber
Feb 9, 2010 - 03:26pm PT
"Mad Rock Climbing is happy to announce that the move from China to Vietnam was a success."

One reason not to buy madrock products....

not employing americans... except in sales and promotion within the US...

Sport climber
Feb 9, 2010 - 03:44pm PT
Yeah, what the *&^@? Chinese labor wasn't cheap enough?

Sport climber
Feb 9, 2010 - 03:50pm PT
Hate - agreed on the press release thing - they should stick to the facts.

Opinions should be posted some place like RC.noob or Misty Murphy's site. More people will read it there anyway.

What is the chance that the new version of Mad Rock will bring back the original Loco? I LOVE mine, but they can only survive a couple resoles.

Trad climber
Kennewick wa
Feb 9, 2010 - 03:51pm PT
actually a lot of the outdoor companies are moving (or have moved) to Vietnam. Many packs, clothes and shoes are made there.

The quality control thing is funny, isn't that what they said when they moved to China?

Those pesky Chinese. Their standard of living goes up and they want a buck a day. Gettin' too spensive, where's the closest, marginally developed country we can exploit. At least we're green!!!

Social climber
Feb 9, 2010 - 03:52pm PT
Srb - lol!

Social climber
Feb 9, 2010 - 03:54pm PT
A lot of work just to undercut prices on everyone else.

Luckily, climbers as a user group tend to prefer quality over price. In the four months I worked in Joshua Tree the shoe I sold the most was the $170 TC PRO.

I did lose a lot of customers to Mad Rock across the street on the three days they were at the festival. Kind of hard to compete with a $50 shoe when you sell sportiva and five ten.


Trad climber
Kennewick wa
Feb 9, 2010 - 04:20pm PT
Jingy - I agree it's unAmerican to move to Vietnam. If we aren't giving our dollars to the Chinese, who's gonna buy our debt? The Vietnamese? I think not!!!

Monument Manor
Feb 9, 2010 - 04:40pm PT
Joe is a good guy and has turned Mad Rock into a force in the climbing industry. The Flash is the most comfortable out of the box shoe and one of the least expensive to boot! The rubber is a little soft but they climb well right away - no break in period. Will they last forever? No. Will you ever get them resoled? No - just buy another pair. As a consumer looking for the most bang for the buck I think Mad Rock has a winning formula. I mean who doesn't love :

10$ ultralight quickdraws
99$ Grade VI haulbags
1 $ hangers
50$ crashpads
99$ 60M 9.6 doudess ropes

Good luck Joe!

Trad climber
Kennewick wa
Feb 11, 2010 - 11:24am PT
When Joe Garland responded to a SNEWS® inquiry seeking more details behind his announced Jan. 11 departure from Mad Rock, he said, by email, “I will have a very good answer to everyone’s questions (not just yours) in two weeks. Thanks for contacting me. Sorry to be so cryptic. The reply is worth waiting for.” (Click here to read our Jan. 13, 2010, story, “Garland exits Mad Rock citing internal differences.”)

Although it took a bit more than two weeks, Garland revealed on Feb. 5 via a news release to the climbing media and, we were told, retailers, distributors and other select recipients, that he was launching a new climbing company called Climb X.

While the news itself was not so earthshaking, the manner in which it was presented certainly left more than a few industry readers confused. Based on the release, it appeared Climb X was taking over Mad Rock’s business operations. Naturally, the blogosphere, email churn and more began to go into overdrive, simply passing along the news and sometimes adding to it with potential misperceptions.

In an attempt to sort out the kernels of truth amid the possible hyperbole, rumor and speculation bantered about, SNEWS launched an investigation, including on the ground at Germany’s ispo show going on this week, as well as by phone, email and even fax (old school, we know). Here is what we uncovered:

It is an undisputed fact that Garland has launched a new climbing company with global distribution aspirations called Climb X. It is registered in Canada as Climb-X Sports Inc., and the company has two trademarks approved for ClimbX recently registered in both Canada and the United States. Plus, it was exhibiting at the ispo show in the Everest booth -- the same booth as Mad Rock.

Additionally, neither Garland nor the new Climb X company have any rights to anything owned by Mad Rock, including materials, designs, trademarks, patents, product, etc. Mad Rock’s parent company is Nelson Sports, a California-registered corporation owned by Young Chu.

As for the information in the release -- sent by the PR company Subrosa Group of Nurnberg, Germany, on behalf of Garland -- it contains numerous errors or statements that can easily be miscontrued according to our research.

>> The official Climb X news release began by stating: “Joseph Garland, a founding member of Mad Rock Climbing since its inception in 2002 who announced his departure from the company in early January has returned to the industry, and is now working for Mad Rock’s parent company and manufacturer.”

However, that is not exactly true. Garland has never been an employee of Mad Rock, according to Chu. Even Garland acknowledged Nelson Sports owns Mad Rock in a Feb. 5 email to SNEWS where he stated, “The brand name Mad Rock has been and as far as I know owned by Young Chu and Nelson Sports.” So, Garland is not working for Mad Rock’s parent company at all.

And, while Garland may have been brought in as a contractor to oversee sales and marketing of the new Mad Rock brand around the time of its launch in 2002, calling himself a founding member does appear to be stretching the limits of the definition.

>> The news release continued: “Three of Mad Rock’s original partners: Alex Kim, Ken Kim and Joe Garland will continue the business under the new name ‘Climb X,’ with Joe Garland being named its new President. Original Mad Rock President and partner Young Chu will retain the Mad Rock name, but is no longer a member of this group.”

While Chu acknowledged to SNEWS in a phone interview that Alex Kim was, in fact, made a minority partner of the factory that Mad Rock set up in China, he was not and never has been a partner in the Mad Rock business or the Nelson Sports business. Though Chu did not know who Ken Kim was, Garland confirmed to SNEWS by email that he was Alex Kim’s brother.

It is also important to point out that neither Garland nor the Kim brothers are continuing any business of Mad Rock. They are, as Chu has detailed to us, simply launching a new company: Climb X. And, of course, Chu is retaining the Mad Rock name -- since he owns the company.

>> According to the Climb X news release: “Climb X will assume the former Mad Rock operation, its distributors, most of its sales reps, international staff, warehouse, factory & production, and product development facility, as well as its Chinese and international warehouse facilities.”

In truth, Climb X is not assuming the former Mad Rock operations. Put simply, it is now manufacturing in the same factory in China that Mad Rock has used, Tianjin Hardstone Outdoor Co. Further, according to Chu, Mad Rock has already exited that facility in favor of a new factory that Chu had been setting up in Vietnam. Chu told us that the company was waiting to announce the new factory until it was fully operational, but the news from Garland forced him to go public sooner. The factory is already producing chalk bags, crash pads and other softgoods, Chu told us, and will soon be producing climbing shoes and other Mad Rock gear. International warehousing has already been moved as well.

In a Feb. 5 news release posted to its website, Mad Rock ( officially announced the new factory for the first time: “Mad Rock Climbing is happy to announce that the move from China to Vietnam was a success. Even though the transition was difficult, it was a necessary move in the face of overwhelming price increases in China. We will be able to pass on savings to the dealers and consumers while maintaining quality and innovation, which has been the cornerstone of Mad Rock’s philosophy.”

Any statement about distributors and reps in the Climb X news release appears a bit premature. Of the five U.S. sales reps currently working for Mad Rock, three told SNEWS directly in interviews that they were continuing as Mad Rock sales reps. In addition -- other than Everest, a German distributor with whom Garland apparently has a relationship -- Kenny Suh, international sales and marketing manager for Mad Rock, told us by phone and email from ispo, as well as in personal conversations at the German show, that a majority of the international distributors currently working with Mad Rock will continue to work with it.

Garland disputed that assertion -- so at this point, and since SNEWS has not personally spoken with a majority of the existing international distributors, the issue of which distributors are siding with which camp (Climb X or Mad Rock) remains unclear. However, it is worth noting what one international business expert familiar with all the players and many key retailers currently selling Mad Rock told SNEWS: “Even if a distributor is a big fan of Garland, shifting gears to jump on with a brand that consumers have no knowledge of or experience with in any market, especially in an economy that is still challenged in most countries, would be extremely risky. Mad Rock is a known entity and one that is trusted by retailers and consumers. Climb X, no matter how good it promises to be, is just a new brand with no sales or production track record. However, if Mad Rock stumbles for any reason in this next year, in deliveries or quality control from its new factory in Vietnam, the scenario could shift in favor of Climb X. Only time will tell on this issue.”

>> The Climb X news release also stated: “Garland, who was responsible for most of the newer products developed at Mad Rock, will be working out of offices in Portland, Oregon, with satellite offices in Munich, Germany and Beijing, China.”

Both Chu and Suh told SNEWS that the claim by Garland that he was responsible for many of Mad Rock’s product design and development is simply not true.

In a follow-up email to SNEWS where we asked him to clarify his roles at Mad Rock prior to his departure, Garland said nothing about being involved with design and asserted that he managed worldwide sales and marketing for the company with “the Brothers Alex and Ken on the factory, production and financing side, (and) Young Chu (as) middle man and sometime designer.”

Whether or not Garland was involved in any aspect of design or production, this much is fact: Following an extensive search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website for any known or pending patents for Mad Rock or, in fact, for any other climbing product design for any other company, Garland’s name does not appear. On the other hand, Chu holds four U.S. patents as an inventor. The first, for a climbing shoe with a concave sole for which the patent was applied on April 23, 2001 -- before Garland ever joined the company and before Mad Rock was even formed. Another patent for a safety buckle, filed on April 24, 2004, was granted Sept. 19, 2006, and another for a climbing shoe heel design was granted on March 14, 2006.

>> The release from Climb X also stated: “Climb X stock will be available in early March for dealers and distributors from a relocated distribution center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The logistics of relocating the offices and DC are geared for quicker access to the merchandise for North American dealers, and paves the way for a deeper pool of qualified candidates for office staff. The Las Vegas DC has the benefit of being one shipping day closer to eastern customers, while giving identical ship times to all western accounts as Mad Rock’s Orange County distribution center.”

In truth, the offices and distribution center are not being relocated, as Garland asserted. He is opening new offices and a distribution center in Las Vegas, as a result of supporting his new company launch -- which has nothing to do with Mad Rock.

As for quicker shipping times, a call to FedEx confirmed there really is no advantage as both Orange County, California, and Las Vegas serve all parts of the country equally well and within the same timetable, east or west.
--Michael Hodgson


Trad climber
Kennewick wa
Feb 11, 2010 - 11:31am PT
Joe is starting to sound like a first class BS artist...probably a really good rep!

Pees on beard to seek mates.
Feb 11, 2010 - 11:37am PT
Pop quiz time: What do (did?) they call Mad Rock in Korea?

As for Made in the USA climbing shoes, check out Evolv.

Trad climber
Feb 11, 2010 - 01:01pm PT
One reason not to buy madrock products....not employing americans... except in sales and promotion within the US...

that describes pretty much every major playe rin the outdoor industry and basically everyone in almost all the others-- applliances, electronics, shoes, apparel.

unless russ starts building tvs, dishwashers, gameboys, and other housewares and apparel out there on the sand, i think you're pretty much stuck with goods made in the old 3rd world.
Mad Rock

Mountain climber
Santa Fe Springs
Feb 11, 2010 - 01:12pm PT


Mad Rock Sheds Some Weight and Passes Savings on to Customers

Santa Fe Springs, CA February 5, 2010: Mad Rock is pleased to announce Kenny Suh,who has been with Mad Rock since 2007, as head of the company’s global sales and marketing team. Joseph Garland, a contracted sales rep with Mad Rock, announced his departure early January. Mad Rock’s sole owner and president Young Chu assures his customers that operations will resume as normal. “Our in-house staff as well as the US and International sales team is excited about the changes and look forward to an even better 2010.”


Mad Rock Climbing is happy to announce that the move from China to Vietnam was a success. “Even though the transition was difficult, it was a necessary move in the face of overwhelming price increases in China. We will be able to pass on savings to the dealers and consumers while maintaining quality and innovation, which has been the cornerstone of Mad
Rock’s philosophy.”

Kenny Suh

Nelson Sports Inc.
Mad Rock Climbing
12878 E Florence Ave
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670

Also here is a link to a reliable industry news source on SNEWS. You must be logged in to read.

Trad climber
Mar 9, 2010 - 10:01pm PT
I thought Evolv was owned by Nelson Sports, not MR.

As a retailer i hate $59 shoes. If you ever had to spend a 1/2 hour fitting someone with a pair of shoes that you are going to make around $24 on (less when you add shipping) you will understand why. I stay away from cheap shoes because I can't keep my doors open and sell cheap product.

Besides, put a $59 shoe on one foot and put a similar $95 LaSportiva on the other and tell me you can't feel the difference.
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