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Local business pitches for specialist outdoor market

A successful business specialising in manufacturing hi-tech adventure sports gear, has reversed the assumed trend of moving shop to the big cities

By Latrobe City Council - 1st August 2001 - Back to News

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A successful business specialising in manufacturing hi-tech adventure sports gear, has reversed the assumed trend of moving shop to the big cities by relocating from the heart of Melbourne’s outdoor gear retailing precinct in Little Bourke Street, to Morwell.

Latrobe City’s Economic Development Officer, Leo Billington, said Morwell business ‘Pitch Black’ owned by Sandra and Paul Brooker, was producing a ‘world’s first’ range of small carry packs and backpacks for campers, hikers and mountaineering aimed at the higher end of the outdoor market, selling thorough outdoor stores nationwide.

"The backpacks are unique in that they are totally waterproof using PVC coated polyester with all seams welded. The packs use an adaptable module system, developed by Sandra and Paul, which allows different packs to be interchanged to suit day walking, long distance hiking, mountaineering, skiing or bike riding," Mr Billington said.

According to Paul, the fully functional, waterproof backpack now surpasses previous technology and has created a wider market within the outdoor gear industry.

Sandra and Paul Brooker, who were born and raised in Morwell, commenced their business eight years ago repairing outdoor gear, largely as a direct result of a long association with Scouting which introduced them to camping, hiking, bike riding and other outdoor pursuits.

Paul’s fascination with cave exploration generated new ideas for his business, then known as Remote Equipment Repairs.

Soon, they were making and supplying caving gear. Caving subsequently became the genesis for their new business name, Pitch Black.

"As members of the Victorian Speleological Association, we enjoy exploring caves and often the caverns and crevices we wriggle and crawl through are extraordinarily wet, hence the incentive to develop equipment suitable for those extreme conditions. There is a challenge in successfully navigating the pitch black caves, and exploring a world of stalactites, stalagmites and nature’s underground wonders," Mr Brooker said.

"Being able to return to our home town, establish our own manufacturing facility and still market to retailers across Australia, is proof that you do not have to be based in capital cities, Mr Brooker said.

In congratulating Sandra and Paul on their unique business venture, Latrobe City Mayor, Cr Brendan Jenkins said it was most encouraging to see local people strive for achievement in small business.

"For Sandra and Paul to commence business in Melbourne, be successful and then relocate to their home town, and to be innovative and efficient as well needs to be applauded by the general community of Latrobe," Cr Jenkins said.


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