BlogBusiness of Gear

The Business of Gear: Q&A with Steve Kitto of Liquid Hardware

posted by gumptiongear May 31, 2013 0 comments

LQH-Color-FinalIn addition to providing in-depth and balanced reviews of the latest outdoor & adventure lifestyle products, one of our goals at Gumption Gear Review is to introduce readers to the personalities, ideas and vision behind various outdoor brands.  Towards those ends, our “Business of Gear” feature allows us the unique opportunity of talking with insiders, entrepreneurs and designers within the outdoor industry to bring you the stories about your favorite (or soon to be favorite) gear.   Today we bring you the story of Liquid Hardware.

The minds at Liquid Hardware have introduced a stainless steel water bottle with Quick Stick Lid™ that ensures you’ll never have to spend extra money on replacing another lid.  It’s a simple innovation that makes a big difference.  We love the bottle so much we included it in our recent Earth Day Challenge.  Following up on that post, we checked in with the owner Steve Kitto, to ask him a few questions about the Liquid Hardware brand.

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Q: For those who are unfamiliar with the brand, what is Liquid Hardware?  What is the vision behind Liquid Hardware?

Liquid Hardware makes safe, reusable drinking vessels for active people. We started off wanting to make a beautiful stainless water bottle that would last a lifetime but have since expanded to include cups, insulated bottles for hot and cold drinks, and soon beer growlers, coffee cups and other containers. Our bottles have what we call a Quick Stick lid. It houses a magnet that allows you to stick the lid to the side of the bottle so that you never lose their lid. Though design and durability are cornerstones for us, small innovations that make life easier are a key component as well.

Q: Give us some insight on the Liquid Hardware lifestyle.

We’re located at the base of the Tetons, so we’re fortunate enough to have access to some of the best skiing, hiking, climbing and biking in the world. When you’re staring up at those peaks all day, it’s hard not to be inspired by them and want to inspire others to be more active and connected with nature. We like to say that we’re happy, healthy and hydrated, and we want others to be the same.

We definitely like to get after our share of fresh powder, tackle the downhill and get into the backcountry, but just as much we like our music festivals, backyard barbecues and hanging with friends. We want to create beautifully designed products that work and fit your lifestyle no matter where you are or what you’re into, so our inspiration comes from the day to day as much as it does the big adventures.

Our shop is pretty humble, in the tiny town of Victor, Idaho in what used to be a train depot back when one ran through the valley a century ago.  We’ve been in that space for over a decade, so we have a great connection with the community, its history and the people who live in it. It’s important to us to know our community, to be a part of it and to give back as much as we can.

Q: The water bottle market has exploded in recent years. The good news is this means plenty of options for the consumer, the downside is that just picking a water bottle can prove to be a daunting task.  What sets Liquid Hardware apart?

Simplicity, utility and good design. We joke that we make bottles to last a lifetime, maybe two, because we believable in using materials that will last. If energy is put into creating a stainless steel bottle, we want that bottle to be around and working decades from now, not in a landfill a few years from now, so they’re built to last. The lid too is unique to Liquid Hardware. It’s magnetic; there’s no tether to break or lid to flop in your face as you drink, you just unscrew it and stick it to the bottle’s side. That simple innovation allows for one handed use no matter where you are and helps with other things like drying the bottle after washing. So it’s practical without being complicated.

Finally, we wanted a bottle that looks good and will still look good with a few scratches and dings in it. The bottle has a clean profile without seeming too polished. It’s functionally beautiful out of the box but, like most of us, can suffer a scar or too and somehow look even better. It doesn’t hurt that it’s BPA-free, guaranteed for life, leak-proof and all of those other things you’d expect in a great bottle, but it’s really the simple practicality of the bottle that sets our bottles apart. People love ‘em.

Q: What can you tell us about Liquid Hardware after sales support?

We build our products to last, so if they don’t for any reason, or you’re just not satisfied, we want to hear about it and make things right. Our Many Moons Guarantee says that if you have a problem, we’ll take care of it, hassle-free and no questions asked. Having products we know we can stand behind for the long haul makes providing exceptional service that much easier. We want you to be happy with your bottle. If you’re not, we want to make it right as fast as we can. And as a relative newcomer to the water bottle world, we’re a smaller shop with a more personal touch. When you call our number for help, you’ll either talk to someone who’s in the shop, or Steve, the owner. No call centers, no automation, just real people.

Q: What is the Cyclical Flow philosophy?

Our bottles are made from one of the most recycled materials on earth, stainless steel. Our new bottles contain approximately 80% recycled stainless. So our product essentially begins at the end of another’s life cycle by using mostly recycled material. Our lids, made from BPA-free plastic, are 100% recyclable as are the rare earth magnets within them. At the end of our bottle’s long life, which we hope is many moons away, all of its parts will ultimately become recycled material for some future product–spaceship parts maybe. So the bottles are built to last a long time and then flow back into the larger cycle of things, just like we are. It was very important to us that we weren’t creating something that would ultimately add to landfills.

Another part of the Cyclical Flow Philosophy includes plans to give 1% of our sales to causes like the Surf Rider Foundation and PKD research. Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) research is important to me since my father and grandfather both had the disease and I have also been diagnosed with it.  I promised my Dad before he passed away that I would give at least 1% of sales to help find a cure for PKD. You can learn more about PKD at www.pkdcure.org.

So that part of what we’re doing is to ensure that funds flow not just back into the business and developing better products, but towards making our planet and people’s lives better. That giving back is part of our business “cycle” and philosophy. Buying a bottle means both that you support sustainable, reusable materials and also that cycle of giving back to communities, not just feeding some mega-company’s bottom line. We’ve got a great product and a mission and we want people in on it.

Q: What is the future for Liquid Hardware and where can people get the products?

Well, we’re growing every day and the response has been incredible. We’re expanding the number of retailers with our products week by week and have been happy to see such great consumer response. We’re in a number of outdoor retail shops, most of them in the Pacific Northwest at the moment, but we hope to expand our distribution significantly over the next year. The easiest place for people to get one if your local retailer doesn’t carry us yet is online at www.liquidhardware.com.

Our thanks to Steve Kitto and the Liquid Hardware team for making this Q&A possible.  

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