Utah-based power and solar brand Goal Zero last week named Lee Fromson, a former REI executive, as its President and Chief Operating Officer.
We caught up with Fromson on one of his first days in the Utah office to discuss the brand, new products, and Goal Zero’s vision of the outdoors for a new generation of active, connected enthusiasts.
Gear Junkie: Congrats on the new position! I’ll jump right in and ask about your long- and short-term vision for Goal Zero.
Lee Fromson: Thanks, things are wild right now! In the short term, it’s going to be all about execution here, as we are growing fast. To meet the demand over the next year we are focusing on product launches, tools for retail partners, and meeting deadlines overall.
Longer term, we see multiple markets for Goal Zero, including the outdoor adventurer as well as someone we call the “off-grid traveler.” You’ve fought for an outlet at an airport to recharge your phone, right? We hope to help travelers have an option to be untethered and to get power for a device anywhere.
The brand was founded with humanitarian roots, based on getting power to remote places in need. How does that sync with the future growth plan?
It remains a big focus. Emergency preparedness and humanitarian projects are our third main area. Our products help in villages and places off the grid, or where the grid is unreliable and is sketchy. I am happy that Goal Zero has a deep and powerful foundation in humanitarian causes.
How will the outdoors recreation landscape look within the next few years?
For the next generation of folks getting outside I don’t think it’s about the solo hiker on the Appalachian Trail anymore. That’s not their vision of the outdoors. They are much more social, and that means live as well as online. I see them as being totally connected and with devices everywhere they go. Online and offline are no longer a dichotomy. It’s both. It’s just life now.
Any hints on new products in development from Goal Zero?
You need to wait until the Outdoor Retailer show this summer for details. But I’ll say to look for us moving even more into the consumer electronics space with some launches. And then we have something unique coming out that’s essentially a “powering multitool.” That’s all I can tell you now.
What are some of your favorite products in the Goal Zero line?
I did a 10-day paddle last year in the Arctic. We got dropped with canoes and had an expedition paddling to the ocean. The Sherpa product line was used every day. I had multiple cameras and gadgets with but did not need to bring any spare battery packs for the whole trip because of solar power. Granted, it was summer in the Arctic. The 24 hours of sunlight didn’t hurt!
—See our recent review of the Goal Zero Lighthouse 250 lantern.