Utah Stories

Black Diamond—Disruptor and Sustainer of Utah’s Outdoor Industry

Utah’s unique business and natural environments have played key roles in Black Diamond’s success in the Salt Lake Valley.


Photo By Mark Lewis.

This year will be a noteworthy one for outdoor equipment companies nationwide. It will mark the first time in 22 years that the Outdoor Retailer Summer and Winter markets will not be held in Utah. The markets constituted the State’s largest bi-annual convention and drew approximately $45 million in annual direct spending to the state. Emerald Expositions, which owns the markets, cited Utah government’s failure to protect public lands for their decision to move to Denver in 2018.

Despite renewed concerns in December 2017 over management of Utah’s public lands, John Walbrecht, president of Black Diamond Equipment, says his company is here to stay. “We’ve been a fixture in the Salt Lake Valley for almost 30 years, and it never crossed our minds to pull out of Utah. We can’t imagine a better place to do business.”

In his one year and three months as president of the company, Walbrecht has seen Black Diamond accept more than 50 industry-innovation awards. He says he was drawn to the company for the same reason its customers are: “Black Diamond is the badass brand of the outdoor industry. Our equipment is the most unique, the most disruptive to the status quo.”

Originally established in 1957 as Chouinard Equipment by Yvon Chouinard in Ventura, California; the company became Black Diamond in 1989. Its 45 employees first arrived in Utah in 1991, led by former CEO Peter Metcalf—Black Diamond currently employs 400 people.

Walbrecht has no doubt that Utah’s unique business and natural environments have played key roles in Black Diamond’s success in the Salt Lake Valley. As a graduate of BYU and an active trail runner, skier, mountain biker, and climber, he is familiar with the accessibility of Utah’s natural places. He says, “We’re experts because we are made up of people who use the gear all the time. Ours is a company by users for users of our products. We have an amazing culture.”

Walbrecht adds that he is grateful for the ongoing support Black Diamond has received over the years from local civic, business, and church leaders. As for current and future concerns over Utah’s public lands, Walbrecht says Black Diamond has been and will continue to be an advocate for public access to public lands, including National Parks and Monuments.

Black Diamond Store, 2092 E 3900 S, Holladay. (801) 278-0233

Inside the Black Diamond Store in Holladay. Photo by Mike Jones.



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