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Outside Brands Wins 2016 Small Business of the Year Award

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The 2016 Hilton Head Island – Bluffton Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year has been awarded to Outside Brands, the parent company of Outside Hilton Head, Destinations DMC, Outside Daufuskie and Outside Palmetto Bluff.

This is the first time in Chamber history that the award has been granted to the same organization twice, with Outside Hilton Head first winning in 1992. The award was presented to CEO Mike Overton at the Chamber Ball on Saturday, January 28th. In his acceptance speech, Overton highlighted his gratitude to the local community for their continued support, the company mission ‘to enrich lives by connecting people to exceptional products, places and experiences,’ and the importance of getting young people outdoors.

The road to receiving this award is a long one, started when Overton was only 19 years old. Outside first opened on July 4th weekend, 1979 as Sailin’ Shoes Windsurfing, with a simple card table in the back of the South Beach Marina General Store. Over the next 39 years, Overton led a dynamic company that used creativity and imagination to create a demand for activities and products not previously on the market. Sailing Shoes Windsurfing evolved into Windsurfing Hilton Head, and with expanded offerings became Outside Hilton Head in 1992. The addition of locations at Palmetto Bluff and Daufuskie Island, along with the development of a full-service destination management company, Destinations DMC, necessitated the creation of the Outside Brands umbrella organization in 2014. The company has seen a remarkable history of firsts, including: the first windsurfing school in the Southeastern United States, the first Patagonia dealer in South Carolina, the first nature-based kayak tour company on the East Coast, the first Rollerblade dealer on the East Coast, and the first focused experiential team and leadership development operation in the region.

Today, Outside Brands operates 4 distinct divisions. The leisure recreation division programs include kayak tours, stand up paddleboarding trips, boat charters, history tours, water ski excursions and wellness programs offered at Shelter Cove Marina, The Westin Hilton Head Island, The Sonesta Hilton Head, Palmetto Bluff’s Wilson and Moreland Villages, Daufuskie Island and at Outside’s private island – Page Island. The retail division consists of specialty shops at Shelter Cove Plaza, Palmetto Bluff and The Westin Hilton Head, all of which sell high quality outdoor and lifestyle clothing and gear. The Team and Leadership development division services a variety of different organizations with custom designed teambuilding programs. The destination management division, Destinations DMC, provides full-service event, convention, and group travel planning and coordination. Outside has worked for over half of the Fortune 100 companies.

Throughout it’s compelling and influential history, Outside has remained a mission-driven organization that prides itself on core values of Safety, Passion, Excellence, Teamwork and Sustainability. To that end, Overton has developed a dynamic team that numbers over 100 people in peak season and includes guides, Coast Guard licensed Captains, SC Master Naturalists, the most American Canoe Association certified paddlesports instructors in the nation, certified Team Building facilitators, skilled retail sales specialists, hospitality professionals, sales people, marketers, designers, reservationists, historical interpreters, published authors, yoga instructors, veterans and student interns. This dynamic group of people, along with the company’s uncompromising open-door policy, create a family-like Team bond that is at the heart of Outside’s successes.

Among the accomplishments in business that Outside Brands is known for, are the many charity, service and fundraising programs that the company has executed over the years. Now in its 25th year, the Recycle Your Jacket Program has provided over 4,500 donated coats to community members through Deep Well. The Kayak for Charity circumnavigation challenge ran for 5 years and raised over $70,000 for Volunteers in Medicine. In-store events, including Ladies Night, Shop for Good, Pint Night and the Wooden Nickel Project have raised an additional $20,000 for various local charities. In 2014, an employee led sustainability initiative took shape in the formation of a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, The Outside Foundation. Seeded by Outside Brands funding, the Foundations mission is to get kids outside and protect and preserve the local environment. Since its inception, The Outside Foundation has grown the ‘Kids in Kayaks’ program, which aims to get every middle school child in Beaufort County out kayaking. The Foundation also hosts waterway clean-ups, awareness festivals, and community educational programs.

As Outside Brands approaches its 40th year of local operations, there are no signs of slowing down. In addition to the continued development of an iconic, mission-driven brand, all 4 divisions of the company have plans for new locations, expanded territory, greater breadth of product offerings, and continued commitment to giving back to the local and regional community. Mike Overton and the Outside Team look forward to providing another 40 years of quality, service and style!