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Magnum CEO Bob Kaiser Previews New Apparel Line
In 1982, the demand for a lightweight, athletic tactical boot brought about Hi-Tec Magnum. With this undertaking, the original tactical boot was born and soon made its way to into the hands of law enforcement and security personnel.
Nearly 30 years later, Magnum and Hi-Tec separated. As a longtime employee, Bob Kaiser readily stepped into position of CEO for the newly individualized Magnum. “For most of my career, I worked in various capacities in both Hi-Tec USA and Hi-Tec Canada,” Kaiser told Tactical Gear Blog in a telephone interview. He elaborated that his most recent role had a more British background, as he was the vice president of operations for Hi-Tec Worldwide. While he predominately was employed at Hi-Tec, he does have experience from other tactical clothing and gear companies. Approximately six years ago, he worked for 5.11 Tactical as the chief operating officer.
So, what’s the main responsibility as the CEO for Magnum?
“Growing the business,” Kaiser said. He explained that at Magnum, they are focused on ensuring the end user wants to wear their products. Essentially, they are looking for that “kit” factor. “That’s really what we try to do here at Magnum. Since I took over, we look at and define the products from the top end users.”
Some of the latest boots Magnum has produced have been wear-tested in Afghanistan and Iraq for the last eight to 12 months, according to Kaiser. “With those wear-tests came refinements in the products,” he said, “and then we bring it out to the market and hopefully the guys are going to look at it and say, ‘Wow, that’s really cool stuff.’”
Although its focus is on footwear, Magnum has tried to expand into the clothing side of things before.
“I would say that 12 to 15 years ago, we had come out with clothing–a full line of Magnum clothing,” said Kaiser. Soon after the release of the clothing line, they decided to direct their attention back to boots. Since then Kaiser explained that they have noticed an “emergence of a bunch of players” within the tactical clothing industry. “We thought that it was time we concentrated on it a little bit more and got back into it. Two years ago we came out with some jackets. We had some success with them, so we expanded.”
More additions to the clothing line are on the horizon, including new Rapid Deployment (RD) tactical shirts and pants. All of the apparel will feature a patent-pending design termed Multi Vented Body Cooling System (MVBCS).
“It’s a series of vents in the garment that go over the shoulder and under the arm,” Kaiser explained. “When the guys in the field are wearing a bulletproof vest or some type of protection around their core, the best place to be able to cool them is under the arm and around the shoulders.”
Magnum’s approach to pants pockets is also unique–they are cut on an angle. “If you look at a lot of the other tactical pants on the market, their cargo pocket is generally straight up and down,” he said. “If you’re standing and you want to get to it, it’s easier if it’s angled to the front.”
The Go To Mag (GTM) pouch easily accommodates 5.56mm 30-round magazines. “Quite honestly, if you’re in a kneeling position, it’s very difficult to get to that side cargo pocket,” said Kaiser. “We’ve angled ours and put it in a certain position. So when you are kneeling, it’s very easy to get to that pouch.”
All of the products in the RD line will be available in navy, black, sage and mocha and in men’s and women’s sizes. The shirts come in long and short sleeve styles. While many tactical pants utilize a stretchy material, Magnum’s RD pants are more fitted. They come in whole and odd waist sizes.
“We wanted to not just launch another tactical pant, we wanted to launch a tactical pant and shirt that we felt was better and what was needed,” Kaiser said. While he believes that several companies are producing quality products, they are not addressing the needs of everyone. “It’s just a little too heavy for some of the guys who are in more of a hot climate.” RD apparel, both the pants and the shirt, is made from 5.4-ounce, 100 percent cotton and ripstop fabric.
Why would they do that?
Typically manufacturers make the pants a heavier weight. “The problem with that is that you cannot exactly match (the color of) the shirt to the pant when you change the weight. It’s very difficult to do that,” Kaiser explained. “The fabric mill will run thousands of yards of fabric and make the shirt and the pants off of that same run. We guarantee that the shirt and the pant will match.”
In addition, they guarantee that the RD line won’t fade for six months. “We’ve tested them in Europe, and the response has been very positive,” shared Kaiser. “Like anything I’m sure there will be refinements down the road.”
Speaking of the future–does Kaiser foresee any price increases due to rising industry costs, such as cotton?
“If prices continue to escalate in the marketplace, there is going to be pressure on us to raise prices. I don’t see that for 2011, but certainly for 2012, it could happen. As a matter of fact, there’s almost a constant daily barrage of pricing pressure from the contract manufacturers that we are using in the Far East. That really comes from the subs that they are using for the various components raising their prices.”
“We never had the singular focus that we have today,” Kaiser said. “The people that are here are thinking about Magnum–we’ve never had that before because we were part of Hi-Tec.”
Also garnering favorable reviews, the Magnum MultiCam boot is slated for release in August. The Military Boots Blog showcased these boots in New All-Over Camo Boots. “Our opportunities with this brand are going to, I think, surprise the marketplace.”