BD sales rep Russ Clune celebrates his 25th anniversary with Black Diamond Equipment
Black Diamond sales rep Russ Clune is a legend here at BD. He was here from before the beginning, back in the Chouinard Equipment days. Since then Russ has helped shape Black Diamond’s brand, style and business in ways few others have. For that reason we had a party at BD HQ in Salt Lake City yesterday to celebrate the anniversary of Russ’ 25th year with Black Diamond. Think about that number: 25… a quarter of a century. Russ has devoted 25 years of his life to making Black Diamond what it is today, and he’s as stoked about BD and climbing as he’s ever been (hell, he's still crankin' 5.13s and roadtripping!).
Below are the remarks Peter Metcalf, our CEO, founder and one of the few people who have been with BD longer than Russ, presented to the company during the party.
[Russ Clune, front and center, as Peter Metcalf makes his remarks during the party.]
How do you, in a few moments, capture the contributions of someone who has played such a significant role in this company’s history, development, personality and brand qualities? You really don’t… but I can share a few highlights.
I was first introduced to Russ early in 1987 by Maria Cranor. I believe it was at an annual meeting of the American Alpine Club. Russ had a much deserved, larger-than-life reputation as one of the best trad climbers of the time – a pioneer Gunks climber and without question the best traveled, most accomplished, best known and most liked America climber of the time. When we met and had an hour or so to talk I realized the guy had:
• an infectious smile
• a warm, outgoing, and egoless personality
• a life that was truly forged from the sports
• a true dirtbag living ability
• a bright and curious mind that could hold a conversation on nearly any topic, making him an ideal travel-companion
• and, his global posse included a who’s who list of the best and most admired rock climbers in the world!
Chouinard Equipment was growing—at that time we may have been all of $5 million—and I wanted to continue to recruit climbers who were defining the sports, our values and our lifestyle as they would be accretive to defining who we were and continue to build the core and iconoclastic nature of BD.
[(left to right) Peter Metcalf (CEO and founder), Chris Grover (VP of Sales), and Russ Clune during the party]
No one better personified that then Russ. He had just completed his Masters at Columbia and we hired him. He moved to California and became part of the most vibrant climbing scene Ventura had ever witnessed. Russ surely played an integral role in defining us!
When Chouinard Equipment went down and I put together the plans to create Black Diamond Equipment, Russ was there fully – committing himself rather than take advantage of other opportunities being offered to him. He committed a truly meaningful amount of dollars to BD’s opening capital, NOT because he believed it would ever make a meaningful return, but because he believed in the sports, in our community and the righteousness of the our purpose and mission.
Hence, he was in….110%, and in those early years the multiple roles Russ played covered not only sales, but key responsibilities in our growth strategy, the products we did and did not make, marketing and more. During Russ’ early days at BD not only did he handle dealer service and a multitude of territories and more, but for several years he was our international sales manager.
[Russ Clune with his new guitar amp and custom-made BD cover that was presented to him in recognition for his 25 years with Black Diamond]
Two highlights of my time with Russ include a trip to Japan to work with our Japanese Distributor. We travelled from Hokkaido to Jogasaki and experienced some amazing skiing and rock climbing. Another was a trip to ISPO Munich in February of 1990, just after the Berlin Wall came down. The Cold War was ending and the world felt like it was going through a major paradigm and power shift. The US dollar wasn’t worth much then, but it was great to be there and experience this amazing time in history with Russ!
Though I value greatly—more with each passing year—both the contributions that Russ made to defining who we are and getting us here… and though I enjoy remembering this rich historical narrative of time with Russ…what I love and admire most about Russ is that he lives life not in rearview mirror, not by talking about the good ol’ days, but rather he lives it for today and for tomorrow. His passion and zest for the climbing, the culture, the people, its values and lifestyle has not diminished one iota, and if anything has only grown.
His fitness, ability and energy for “getting after it” is absolutely inspirational and continues to help define the BD brand today as it did 20 years ago.
Russ, I cherish my memories and your contributions of the past 25 years, and that is what we are celebrating today. I am excited by the future and all that holds as well. Thank you and congratulations!