Al Tabor Describes the Financial Problems at The North Face & Odyssey that Lead to Mountain Hardwear's Founding

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What was going on [at The North Face] was pretty frustrating from product perspective because we were trying to get enough money to bring stuff into the country… and we have tents but we wouldn’t be able to afford to pay Easton to get poles. So even before the bankruptcy [of Odyssey], this was problematic and this sort of queued up Odyssey buying North Face…those cash problems.  This for a while looked good but we were [now] owned by the company which, I think, was essentially a Ponzi scheme. They were pulling money in from, like, the Japanese to pay off…I think they were going by country by country or maybe language group by language group and they were suck a bunch of money in it and use it to payoff to the people that were after them from the previous group… and eventually they exploded. And I believe in such a way that they were bankrupt bad enough that their were warrants out for people arrest in People’s Republic. Right?

So being an information guy I brought along archives here. So I preserved a fax from Angela So who was our contact person in Odyssey in Hong Kong to Paul Kramer. We needed to send money to her personally, not Odyssey because if we set money to Odyssey they keep it and spend on something else, so we were sending money to Angela So.  And so she send her bank information, so she says bank is Hong Kong Shanghai Bank and corporation which she gives the address, she gives us the routing number, she gives her name (all the Angela’s and whatever: everybody had an English name to make it easy for us but her real name was So Lai Chun and she said that we need to make sure that we say So Lai Chun, don’t put the So at the end because it has to be in Chinese order, Regards Angel.

And then she says PS: Bill said that OIL is going to receiver ship within a day or two.

This is how we found that company that owned is going into bankruptcy! Nobody else told us.

Then she sent another PS, re: our Microlights…”it looks like that we are able to move these out but export license not ready yet, we will keep you informed.” So that is an update on what we are going to send money for.

That is how we found out that the company would bankrupt and the bankruptcy once again we are out of money. So it occasioned a whole another set of problems that ultimately led to Jack and Paul trying to buy Sierra Designs and then starting Mountain Hardwear when that was rebuffed. 

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This Story is part of a Series...

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