Welcome back to Brands We Love, our regular review of brands that intrigue and inspire us. We started in October 2019 with PowHERful Brands, a collection of features on women-owned and -led brands; shifted to Inspiring Independents in January 2020; and followed with That 70s Brand in April 2020. Now, we’re focusing on family businesses.
Otter Products, leading the mobile-device protection industry with OtterBox, is also home to fast-growing LifeProof and Liviri, and philanthropic OtterCares. And it’s a family company worth emulating.
Curt Richardson, the original maker, created the first OtterBox waterproof case in the mid-90s with a pure, recreational purpose in mind—keeping valuable things dry while fishing and diving. He and his wife, Nancy, recognized that it was a product that many more people could appreciate. Something that would allow people to live, doing the things they enjoyed, a little more carefree.
So, shifting away from earlier business interests and in addition to raising their two sons, the Richardsons launched high-volume production of the OtterBox case. They were keen to make sure that it could be easily manufactured and easily shipped, all the while maintaining the quality and integrity of the original concept. And they built the business to support its growth.
In the early days, Curt and Nancy oversaw round-the-clock production in their garage, with administrative work taking place at their kitchen table. The brand grew. It was successful. And yet, they knew that the company had to evolve to continue its most lasting work. To grow in order to give back.
Careful market analysis and hands-on innovation led to the OtterBox mobile-device case that, with a touch-sensitive protective membrane, allowed people to use their personal digital assistants (yes, PDAs, remember that time?) and phones while still within their protective shells. And, over the next two decades, OtterBox flourished alongside the growing mobile device market.
Otter Products was also growing and changing as a company. The Richardsons transitioned to board members, with Curt focusing his entrepreneurial passion elsewhere, and Nancy building the OtterCares Foundation. Still, when they noticed a significant diversion from the people-centric culture that they had intended, the founders quickly came back. They reset the leadership team and company priorities, and reinvigorated the company’s experimental and innovative mindset.
This family company, along with the new ventures it supports, is uniquely poised to succeed as consumer behaviors shift, and our world evolves, yet again. In 2013, Curt and Nancy’s sons Josh and JC founded Angel Armor, which provides personal and vehicle protection to keep law enforcement officers safe in every situation, all day.
As far as Otter Products’ flagship product, OtterBox is expanding its screen-protection and power offerings. This move matches how the mobile-device protection market has matured, and that people are holding on to their devices for longer periods. LifeProof recently introduced WĀKE, a new case line made from 85% ocean-based recycled plastic.
And now, with more people getting groceries and wine via delivery, there’s greater demand in the market for reusable, durable, temperature-sensitive containers that preserve the quality and safety of food and beverages. Otter Products’ Liviri brand fits, or rather defines, this niche.
OtterCares inspires students to become entrepreneurs and philanthropists who create lasting change in their communities. But it’s this excerpt from the foundation’s recent statement that perhaps best encapsulates its vision.
“This moment in our history may feel out of control and messy, but it is during these times that we see the makers, doers and givers blossom to meet the challenges that our families and communities are facing. There is no better time to help nurture an entrepreneurial mindset and philanthropic spirit in young people.”
It’s one thing to explore and experiment to set and elevate the standard for more human, more sustainable goods and commerce. It’s quite another, very generous act, to help others do so too. We are very fortunate to see this philosophy in action, every day, in our multi-year client partnership with Otter Products. We look forward to continuing to support the Otter Products family of brands, all brilliant in their own right, and seeing what blue-ocean opportunity this family company pursues next.
Now in our 50th year of business, Vladimir Jones is Colorado’s original independent, integrated advertising agency, with offices in Denver and Colorado Springs. We believe in brilliant brands and love making the world love them as much as we do.