The Orvis Co.

The Orvis Co.

The Orvis Co.

The Orvis Co.

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World-leading manufacturer Orvis relies on Southern California Design Company for game-changing innovation and award-winning design.

World-leading manufacturer Orvis relies on Southern California Design Company for game-changing innovation and award-winning design.

Charles F. Orvis founded the Orvis Company in 1856 to offer superior fly-fishing equipment to anglers in Southwestern Vermont. Today Orvis is the world’s leading manufacturers of fly-fishing equipment — from rods and reels to waders and boots — in addition to many other outdoor products. Although Orvis is still family owned and operated, the company has grown into an international, multi-channel retailer with approximately 1,700 employees.

Charles F. Orvis founded the Orvis Company in 1856 to offer superior fly-fishing equipment to anglers in Southwestern Vermont. Today Orvis is the world’s leading manufacturers of fly-fishing equipment — from rods and reels to waders and boots — in addition to many other outdoor products. Although Orvis is still family owned and operated, the company has grown into an international, multi-channel retailer with approximately 1,700 employees.

The Challenge

Orvis' Director of Product Development & Design realized that Orvis' fly-fishing reel program needed a refresh.

Shifting competitive landscape

“There are two different reasons why you would change a product in its life cycle,” says Shawn. “The first would be that sometimes the competitive landscape shifts. In our case, we had a really good, successful reel called the Mirage that we made from 2007 to 2015. It had a simple three-spoke design that was being knocked off left and right by just about every import reel company out there. It was an easy one to get away with copying.”

Watershed design moments

“And then the second reason you’d change a product is what I call a ‘watershed design moment’ — where you used to do something one way but now you do it in an entirely new way, simply because it's a better way to do it. These are usually triggered by new opportunities for materials or construction techniques,” he explains. “In this particular case, it was both of those things coming together — a changing competitive landscape and new technologies.”

The need to stand out

“At the end of the day, the fly-fishing market is relatively small,” says Shawn. “We're competing in a vacuum against our competitors for the attention of a small audience that like to take a fly rod and reel and go and catch fish. So we really needed something that would stand out from the crowd and set Orvis’ reels apart.

“We already knew we could produce fly reels that had structural and mechanical advantages. But we were missing an aesthetic identity that we could carry across our reels, that would be unique and hard to duplicate from an IP standpoint."

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"We came to SCDC in need of something that we didn't have a good handle on. And they gave us a competitive advantage through design that allowed us to utilize everything else that we had going for us — market penetration, engineering, sourcing and all of that — to increase sales and push our reel lineup into the future."

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SHAWN COMBS, Director, Product Development and Design (fishing and hunting), Orvis

The Solution

Shawn engages SC Design Co. to ensure Orvis's fly-reel designs are both unique and successful.

A new aesthetic identity

“Southern California Design Company came through — and did some really cool stuff for us,” says Shawn. “There were probably three or four major design themes that they explored, and we ended up commercializing three of them. Their design work really helped us define what Orvis’ next generation of modern reels would look like and helped us stretch our imagination.”

Market success

“The reels have been hugely successful — from winning design awards to capturing market share,” says Shawn. “The first of these reels we took to the market, the Hydros SL, allowed us to tremendously increase our annual unit sell — and that was already a really successful program. Probably 70% of the people I interact with that want to tell me their story about Hydros SL, they're just like, ‘Man, it's just freaking cool looking.’ Which is awesome to hear.”

A winning relationship

“Our relationship with SCDC has really helped our design and development team grow a little bit,” explains Shawn. “They’ve expanded our capabilities as a company and allowed us to think beyond just what we’re used to.

“The next time we come to another major crossroads with a product category, I'll call SCDC and say, ‘Hey, let's fire up the band! We're going back on tour. Let’s do this again.’ You don't always need to pull out the big guns, but when you do, it's nice to have one.”

"Everything that SC Design Co has touched has really worked out for us. It's been really easy to have a lot of trust in them, and I think you can feel that in the work they’ve done."

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SHAWN COMBS, Director, Product Development and Design (fishing and hunting), Orvis

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All content © copyright Southern California Design Company and/or its respective clients. All rights reserved.

All content © copyright Southern California Design Company
and/or its respective clients. All rights reserved.

All content © copyright Southern California Design Company and/or its respective clients. All rights reserved.