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Former Whistler company Olympic licensee

Barenaked Ladies show Olympic support is going for a song

By Clare Ogilvie

It’s likely that if you bought a pair of power straps for your ski boots in the late ’80s they were being made in the basement apartment of the founder of RC Sports, right here in Whistler.

Last week that same company, now based in Vancouver, was chosen as an official licensee for the Vancouver 2010 Games.

“We wanted to be a part of the Games as soon as we heard they were going to be held here,” said Erik Dier, sales manager for RC Sports.

“We wanted to be somehow involved in the Games and this was the best way we could do it.

“(The Olympics) is all about winter sports and that is how our company was started and it is what we are all still quite passionate about. And the fact that we started in Whistler and the Games are going to held there as well as Vancouver, which is where we are based, well it all just made sense.”

Since those early days when founder and sole owner Rory Carr was making power straps and then Velcro watch straps, the company has grown significantly and is now, amongst other things, the official supplier of bags to the Canadian Alpine Ski Team.

  About nine years ago the company also stated producing accessories for pets, including coats, leashes, collars and seat belt harnesses.

Dier said the public could expect to see key chains, lanyards, wallets and pet accessories with 2010 Olympic logos in retailers by the spring. Other accessories for winter use, such as ski straps and snowboard stomp pads, will become available in the summer.

Dier said it took about eight months to go through the licensee process from start to finish and included submitting more than one proposal and making a personal presentation before the Vancouver Organizing Committee’s licensing committee.

“I think it seemed like a fair process,” he said, adding, “from our side of it, it was a good process to go through.”

That is partly because it forced the company to look at some of its environmental and sustainability practices.

“It is one of those things as a small company it is easy to pass on and so this forces your hand,” said Dier referring to sustainable practices.

“It is simple things like to going to a more paperless order system, and things that everybody here can be involved in.

“It is something we have always wanted to be better at and this has forced our hand a little bit, which is good. It has really opened our eyes to what else we can do to address those issue a little bit better.”

But like any smart business plan there are other reasons to get involved with the Games apart from the warm and fuzzy feeling of doing something for the greater good. Being attached to one of the strongest brands in the world is a powerful draw.

“I think certainly in the minds of other retailers and other businesses it will elevate our name and what we do and it also proves to everybody that we can make a quality product and be involved in something as big and international as the Olympics are,” said Dier by way of explanation.

Several other licensees in the Novelty Gift and Collectibles category were also announced. They include Cajo Designs of Vancouver doing fashion accessories, Executive Promotion of Montreal doing novelty products and collectibles, Mustang Drinkware of London, Ontario, Panabo Sales of North Vancouver doing gifts and collectibles, Sundog Distributing Inc. of Calgary, Alberta, doing non-prescription sunglasses, and Vancouver Umbrellas.

“Representing businesses both large and small, these new licensees reflect Canada’s great spirit of entrepreneurship and show how businesses country-wide can continue to get involved in the Games,” said Dave Cobb, VANOC’s executive vice president of revenue, marketing and communications.

The sale of Vancouver 2010 official licenses products contributes directly to Games revenues, thereby supporting the financing and staging of the 2010 Winter Games.

Meanwhile the Barenaked Ladies have announced that a portion of the proceeds from every concert ticket sold for the BLAM tour across Canada will be donated to the Own the Podium 2010, an initiative to help Canada become the top medal winner at the 2010 Olympics and place among the top three at the Paralympics.

“I don’t think I’m the only Canadian that feels a sense of pride when I see one of Canada’s athletes excel on the world stage,” said Barenaked Ladies Bassist Jim Creeggan.

“Maybe it’s the fact that they were able to achieve their dream in a country that I call home. I know our athletes’ efforts sends a strong message of hope to Canada’s youth and I’m glad to have this opportunity to support them.”

The Barenaked Ladies will be playing Feb. 3 at GM Place in Vancouver.

Bell is also part of the promotion offering a chance to win the ultimate Barenaked Ladies BLAM tour fan prize pack including access to sound check performance, private show meet and greet and premium concert seating. Go to for updates.

Bell mobility customers will also be able to get exclusive footage of the BLAM tour and other information about the tour.

VANOC is to announce another new Canadian official sponsorship today out of Toronto.

Olympics organizers have already raised $565 million in sponsorship.

VANOC is now projecting that will raise well over $700 million in sponsorship, that’s up from the $450 million originally estimated in the 2002 bid book for the Games. This money is expected to pay for about half of the estimated $1.8 billion operating budget of the Games.

Sponsors already signed up include: Bell Canada: $200 million; RBC Financial: $110 million; Hudson’s Bay Company: $100 million; Rona: $68 million; GM: $53 million plus $14 million to athlete initiatives including Own the Podium; and   Petro Canada: $62.5 million.

The Official Suppliers to 2010, a financial commitment of between $3 and $15 million, are: Workopolis, Epcor, Haworth, Dow Canada, and Vincor.

The Official Supporters of the Games include Teck Cominco, The Royal Canadian Mint, and The B.C. Lottery Corporation, all of which are providing a $15 million commitment.

There are several categories or sponsorship still outstanding such as the air carrier.