Hi Everyone, RCG HQ here. Rebecca from calipidder.com has posted her take on the recent gathering of outdoor bloggers at Gore-Tex. Enjoy!
The Gore-Tex Blogger Summit was a short whirlwind of tours, education, entertainment, and fun with fourteen other outdoor bloggers and many Gore associates. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this event but it was clear from the beginning that it would be an interesting 48 hours with a great group of people. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that Gore provided the travel and expenses for this trip.
Everyone arrived throughout the day on Wednesday and at 6 pm descended on the Gore Barksdale facility in Delaware for dinner, drinks, and a meet-and-greet. I felt like I was in a museum – the center atrium of the building has been turned into the Gore Capability Center – a display of their technology and the many applications it has. My interest was piqued as I passed by a guitar, an astronaut suit, a motorbike, and other things, but they quickly whisked us into a room where tables, drinks, and a slide show were waiting.
After a few minutes the remaining group arrived straight from the airport and a tour of the Capability Center kicked off. They did a quick round of introductions and it was exciting to see the diversity of bloggers around me. Although we all fell under the general ‘outdoor blogger’ umbrella, there were backpacking bloggers, climbing bloggers, skiing bloggers, snowboarding bloggers, travel bloggers, mountain biking bloggers and more. I looked forward to getting to know everyone, but there was no time for chitchat – we had things to learn about!
My familiarity with the Gore brand has always been through outdoor gear – all of us here know Gore-Tex and Windstopper, right? Well, this is just a small part of their business. The focus of Day 2 will be on this business, but tonight it’s an introduction to the Gore business as a whole, and it’s incredible.
Gene and Emily, two Gore associates, took us around the Capability Center, starting with an introduction to the science behind their products. Gore’s core business is based on polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a material that Bill Gore was experimenting with back in the 50’s to make a better wire insulating tape. As the story usually goes with great discoveries, things were going terribly and in a moment of frustration Bill Gore yanked on the material and it expanded in an astonishing way.
This expanded PTFE is the material that eventually became Gore-Tex and a myriad of other products. As the history was described, we got to pass around a tube and sheets of ePTFE – it was really cool to feel what that membrane is like in my Gore-Tex jackets.
We then went through the other kiosks which demonstrated the applications of ePTFE in four scientific areas: physical, electromagnetic, chemical, and biological. I know the readers of calipidder.com are mostly interested in the outdoor applications, but I still have to mention how cool it is that Gore has been able to apply the ePTFE discovery to an incredible range of products. We saw everything from medical devices, wires that are used on Mars and Moon exploration robots, hydrogen-powered engines, to guitar strings and Glide floss.
There is a lot going on at Gore, and although this event’s focus was on their outdoor business, I couldn’t help but be impressed by all that the company is doing. There was one theme that was clear across all of the applications, and in a conversation I had with one of the associates he nailed it: Gore “only makes products to improve people’s lives”.
After the tour we sat down for dinner and had a chance to get to know one another a bit better. We also got a sneak peak at Gore-Tex’s new community at myexperiencemore.com. It looks great and I’ll post about it more once it launches and I get a chance to play with it. But it’s worth saying that Gore gets it when it comes to understanding their outdoor consumer and they want to listen to their community. In the process, they may be able to give their brand more of a personality. To consumers, Gore is a personality-free component maker that supplies the manufacturers of outdoor gear. However, as you’ll see from my Day 2 report, they go far above and beyond the role of supplier when it comes to their relationship with manufacturers and consumers.
Coming soon in the Day 2 report: the science of breathability and waterproofness, a tour of the Gore testing facilities, I survive a wind and rain storm, and silliness on the streets of Philadelphia.
When Rebecca isn’t busy getting her nerd on with trip reports and gear over at calipidder.com, she can be found somewhere in the backcountry of California, backpacking, hiking, climbing, photographing, or just soaking in the scenery. She communicates best at 140 characters at a time, so she looks forward to continuing the conversation at twitter.com/calipidder.
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