Today we turn 17 years old.
We joke that a year at NEMO is a like a dog year – it feels like we pack seven years of adventure, activity, and learning into each trip around the sun. So as we reflect upon another year at NEMO, there’s a lot to smile about. Most of all, we appreciate the support and love of our customers. And we’re happy to celebrate a tremendous year of growth, new partnerships, and innovations in our products. Everything we do is in the encouragement and celebration of adventure.
This 17th year was truly an adventurous one. We’ve grown our team, won a lot of awards, made huge strides in sustainability, and hustled to keep pace with skyrocketing demand. We feel proud of what we’ve accomplished this year, and it’s thanks to our fantastic team and great partners.
To celebrate this Anniversary, we’d like to share 17 bits of lore you might not know about this small but spirited, independent outdoor brand from New Hampshire.
1. Always Adventuring
Some companies host picnics or a day at the beach for their yearly company outing, which is all fine and good. However, at NEMO we take our entire company on adventures throughout the year — from multi-day camping excursions to weekends at local ski areas or downhill mountain biking centers to fly fishing the Arkansas River. And throughout the year, NEMO provides lots of opportunities for micro adventures as well, like an evening on the town for wood-fired pizza, local beers, and front row seats to the Banff Film Festival … or just an impromptu climbing day at Salt Pump climbing gym. It makes for some awesome bonding with co-workers outside of work and continues to nurture our love of nature and adventuring together, bringing positive energy back to the office to fuel our passion for making NEMO great.
2. One test to test them all
New England’s highest peak and some of our planet’s most severe weather is only two hours away. Mount Washington, the pinnacle of New Hampshire, is home to the most extreme weather observatory on earth, having measured winds up to 231 mph. So … naturally, in the middle of Winter ’11-12, we set up a tent at the peak for testing. We staked out our extreme arctic shelter, Isopod™, where we watched it resist bewildering gusts for 10 days and remaining intact and proudly in place. When we finally noticed a wrinkle in the fabric and investigated, it turned out the failure was not in the tent itself — in fact, the wind vibration against the cement pad had ground the end of the metal tent pole to a pulp.
3. 200 Mile Relays? No Problem.
For the past two years in a row, we’ve put together a formidable team together to run in one of New Hampshire’s most grueling and oldest running relay races — Ragnar’s Reach the Beach. With a course that spans approximately 200 miles; starting deep in the White Mountains and ending at the Atlantic shoreline, requiring team members run multiple legs through various conditions and elevations through day and night — it’s a challenge we love.
4. Mountain bikes … and unicycles
The whole NEMO team loves to mountain bike and rides together constantly — nothing new for an outdoor brand there. But two of our product designers, Gabi and Zack, are also very proficient unicyclists and known for turning a few puzzled heads at the mountain bike festivals we’ve attended.
5. Cam’s Mom is faster than your mom
Cam’s parents, Caryl and Barry Brensinger, are not only wonderful people and super supporters of NEMO, but they are also great adventurers themselves — including decades of performance stock car racing at numerous tracks.
6. Elite gear for the Nation’s most elite forces
Because of NEMO’s remarkable innovations and robust, high-level durability under the harsh demands of combat, NEMO was chosen to design and produce military specific products for the Navy Seals and other special ops forces.
7. A self-contained power source
Did you know we’re located in a historic hydroplant? The Cocheco River which flows below and through the center of the restored mill building where NEMO’s headquarters are located still generates renewable energy, much as it has for more than 100 years. This compact and highly-efficient turbine uses the flow of the river to provide the building and business tenants with all of its electricity needs.
8. Salad days of Nashua
In NEMO’s original office in Nashua, the bathroom was not only in a central location in the space, but its walls did not reach completely from the floor to the ceiling. Veteran NEMO-ites share stories about the …er… closeness this created with coworkers.
9. When we work late, we’re not alone
On multiple occasions when our team has been working late in the evening at the office, they have felt a “presence”. Like many of the mill buildings in New England with storied pasts and tales of less-than-optimal working conditions … and spirits that haunt their halls, our current headquarters is no different. While not everyone here believes in ghosts, our controller has noticed orbs of light drifting by on the security cameras at night, and other members of our team have sworn they’ve had unexplained encounters.
10. No need to leave our best friends at home
Our nine resident office dogs are ALWAYS welcome. Though they make for some rambunctious moments and the occasional peculiar smell to waft through the office, they also bring the sweet and cozy vibe of home into our work environment and brighten our days.
11. Sleeping on the job
Over the past 17 years, due to working late into the night, night after night, and balancing extraordinarily grueling travel schedules, AND playing hard and having tons of fun doing it all, our dedicated team has logged HUNDREDS of hours of sleep through naps in tents in various nooks throughout the office.
12. Our founder truly lives our mission … and is a badass
Cam Brensinger is an adventurer in the fullest degree — always seeking new ways to interact with the natural world around him, expand his design mind, and inspire his team. While he leads the charge for sustainability and outdoor participation as a board member for the Outdoor Industry Association (among other leadership posts), he also lives for both exploring the wild and protecting the wild places we love to explore in a very badass way. He makes his own knives and self bows … and most recently, carried one his injured employees over his shoulder and down the mountain on his skis. Oh, and when he sneezes it scares the crap everyone.
13. That time on Franconia Ridge …
It goes without saying that many of our NEMO company adventures come with some form of precipitation … and often it’s heavy. Murphy’s Law for making super-technical waterproof gear, I guess. On one particularly ill-fated adventure, the NEMO team pushed on through torrential rains and horrendous winds to make it over Franconia Ridge to get to the area they wanted to camp on the other side. They pushed a bit closer to edge of being almost too adventurous as the storm didn’t let up and actually gaining power through the night, experiencing a truly wild ride of a stormy night from inside their tents.
14. A Pinzilla breakthough
Legend has it that when Cam created his breakthrough “Pinzilla” – the basis for the original airbeam tents – he used 1500 pins to hold the fabric of this wildly new and innovated design together. At that moment, his only sewing experience had been what he had learned from his mom … but it was sheer endurance and determination that help him to make this simple construction method work for such a complex pattern.
15. Longboard Lunches
A typical lunch break in Nashua almost always included a full team longboard session to the local grinder shop. Extra points for stylish carving, and even more for not getting hurt.
16. No wind tunnel needed
Why use a wind tunnel when you’ve got an old Volvo and a runway? When we were first developing our AirSupported Technology™ — basically a tent with no poles, just inflatable airbeams — we wanted to see just how much wind it could handle. Airbeams are technically stronger than aluminum – they will bend, but they won’t break! Our Morpho™ 2P maxed out our truck’s speedometer, passing with flying colors, and without flying airbeams.
17. DIY? Always.
From the very beginning the team has always built all of the furniture throughout the office. In Nashua, this included desks and tables that rotated to make room for skateboarding laps through the studio. Today, it’s a right of passage for new employees to build their own desk and the test engineers have designed and built a large quiver of rigorous testing devices, including our infamous rain chamber and punching bag drop test.
From all of us at NEMO, we thank you for a colorful first 17 years and we look forward to many more!