A Newcastle entrepreneur who established a leading US brand of all-weather cycling gear is bringing his business back to the North East, with his brother at the helm.
Kyle Ranson set up Showers Pass in Oregon in 1997 to provide innovative, technically engineered clothing for cyclists and outdoors enthusiasts. The business has grown rapidly, leading him to develop a UK division, headed up by his brother Fraser.
The new division is headquartered at the Felling Bypass, Gateshead, and, with a network of retailers already established – including Sims Cycles in Morpeth, M. Steel in Newcastle and Team Cycles in Gateshead – both brothers are confident another success story is in the waiting.
“Portland, located in the Pacific NW is known for is it’s rain and inclement weather,” said Kyle.
“I actually describe the climate as the UK but with good summers, so it made perfect sense that gear that had been specifically designed to work in the wet and grime of the Pacific NW would work superbly well all year round in the UK. I’m a Geordie boy at heart - most of my family is still located in North East - so it makes me proud to bring the brand home to the North East.”
Kyle originally moved to the US in 1993 to take up an executive position with Compaq.
Seeing a gap in the market for high quality cycle outerwear designed by cyclists for cyclists, he started Showers Pass as a cottage industry.
The business is now the largest US headquartered cycling outerwear brand, supplying products to some of the biggest outdoor and sporting retailers in the country, such as REI, LL Bean and Scheels to name a few.
It’s products make use breathable materials, multiple ventilation options and even more innovative designs like the the unique Veleau Hydration system, which removes the need for cyclists to carry water on their backs or grapple with water bottles.
Fraser, formlerly a director in the construction industry, said: “I have been delighted with progress to date and overwhelmed by the reception I have received from the trade.
“I had reservations when my brother first asked me about heading up the UK operation due to my lack of in depth knowledge within the industry, but my brother reassured me that the quality of our product range would do the talking, and he has been absolutely correct in this respect.
“It says something when you have two retailers in close proximity to each other and they are chasing me to secure their access to the Showers Pass brand before the other one.”