Osprey grew from one person’s desire to use and make more comfortable, longer lasting and functionally sound packs. Over the last forty-something years Osprey has stayed true to this ethos as the they grew as a company and a brand and the company’s founder, Mike Pfotenhauer, is still the mad hatter leading Osprey® designs and innovations.
Osprey Owner and Founder, Mike Pfotenhauer, remembers backpacking as a young boy, wearing a pack with an awful fit. With the help of his mother, he learned to sew, and created his first backpack at age 16. As a young entrepreneur, Mike opened a retail shop where backpackers and travelers were happy to wait several days for Mike to construct their made-to-order packs.
By 1987, Osprey started selling wholesale and Mike delegated much of the sewing to seven or eight employees while he focused on design. He trained each sewer in the art and science of constructing Osprey packs, and in 1994 Mike and his business partner/wife Diane Wren expanded sewing operations in Cortez, Colorado.
As U.S. manufacturing became increasingly challenging in the early 2000’s, Osprey began working with Korean manufacturers that owned and managed facilities in Vietnam. Distance didn’t dilute Mike’s incessant desire to ensure that his packs were built with the utmost quality and according to his design specs, which meant he was spending months traveling between Colorado and Vietnam.
In 2003, Mike and Diane relocated their family to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and set up a design center where Mike could more closely manage production. Intending to live there for two years, they stayed for four. Today, Osprey’s fully-staffed product development office in Vietnam continues to ensure face-to-face relationships with the factory technicians and transparency with the company’s suppliers. (1)
What Makes Osprey Great
In 2009, Osprey launched the All Mighty Guarantee (AMG) to celebrate the company’s 35th anniversary. The AMG is an enhancement of a robust lifetime warranty that states the company will repair any damage or defect in its product – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday – free of charge. If Osprey is unable to repair the item, it will be replaced*. The All Mighty Guarantee: any product, any reason, any era. (2)
Osprey’s innovative designs and commitment to top-notch manufacturing shows in every product, even decades later. “Osprey is, in large part, about exceptional relationships,” says Mike Pfotenhauer. “Between the pack and its wearer. The pack and its makers. The company and its staff.” He continues, “So many of our staff have been with the company for decades. It shows how fervently we believe in our process and products. The All Mighty Guarantee proves it.” (3)