Ice across country heats up sales for Maine company

8:06 PM, Feb 3, 2014   |    comments
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BIDDEFORD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Polar Vortex has delivered some of the coldest weather in 20 years. But no one at "32 north," a small company based in Biddeford, Maine, is complaining.

They manufacture a piece of outdoor equipment that retailers and hardware stores are having a hard time keeping in stock this winter.
32north makes a line of ice cleats called Stabilicers. These overshoes are studded with steel multi-directional cleats that do what the name implies--keep their wearers much more stable in icy conditions .
"I can run full stride on a sheet of ice with this product. It's pretty amazing," said John Milburn, company president.

32north was started 23 years ago, by Anne and David Gould who discovered an early version of the Stabilicer on a trip to New Brunswick, Canada. "He was making them for handicapped people. David took one look at the product and thought of another market--workman's comp. They don't want workers to slip and fall," recalled Gould.

They started the business in their garage, marketing the overshoes as safety gear to utilities, woodsmen, and delivery companies.
But the business really hit its stride when they tapped into a broader consumer market with a lighter version meant for everyday winter wear. Milburn says Stabilicers are easy to use thanks to a special compound of thermoplastic elastomer that stays both stretchy and durable to -45 degrees.

This winter, he says, it's been hard to keep up with orders. "When it's snowy and icy, it's great for business." The company is turning out more than 6,000 pairs a week from three locations, shipping all over North America, Scandinavia, and Asia.

Closer to home in Maine, retailers LL Bean and Cabela's say the cleats have been a best seller this winter. "We had a entire wall full when we got them in. We have one pair left," said Greg Sirpis, Cabela's Retail Marketing Manager. "it's a men's extra large in case anybody wants one."


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