When a person thinks about starting a company, deciding on a name can be an interesting experience.
The entrepreneur can name the company after himself as in John Jones Blind Co. Or if he believes in providing quality service, he names his company Quality Produce Co.Others use their initials as in JBH Tire Co., and still others use a geographical location such as Granger Office Supply.
But three years passed before Michael J. Pratt, president of OGIO International Inc., 3590 W. 1820 West, figured out that OGIO (pronounced oh-joe) should stand for Our Gear is Organized.
Pratt originally came up with the OGIO monicker from language his wife used in her job at US WEST Communications, namely "outgoing only."
Well, so much for the history of the name of this company, which has made remarkable strides in the rec-reation bag business.
At 29, Pratt always wanted to design products, and his dreams have materialized because he holds four patents for a variety of features on his various bags.
He frequently can be seen at his drafting board designing things and upgrading the bags the company sells.
While at the gymnasium one day several years ago, Pratt realized the bag he carried was like most recreation bags, a big, open area in the middle with some pockets on the side - unorganized to say the least.
So he sat down at his drafting table to design a bag that would allow the user to become organized. From there he cut up a cardboard box to make a model. When he got the chance and had new ideas, he modified the model.
The first bag Pratt designed was called Travel Cube, a kit with compartments that keeps toiletry items in place and ready to use. Travelers can either supply their own bottles of
shampoo or empty shampoo into some bottles provided.
Elastic holds articles in place, and the bag has a rubber bottom to ward off water. A detachable purse pouch comes with the bag.
Armed with some neighbor's money to help finance the bag project, Pratt flew to the Far East and had a company in Korea make the first 2,000 bags, which were shipped to Pratt in May 1987.
He put the bags on consignment in stores such as Foot Locker, ZCMI and Shapiro Travel Goods, and they sold fast. In Asia, some countries have quotas for export, but Pratt managed to get another 4,000 bags from a Korean company. Then he got the name of a Taiwanese company, and more bags were produced.
In 1988, Pratt had funding problems because all of the money he was making off the bags was going into production, and he didn't have enough money to develop additional products.
Along came Dirk McGillis, founder of 23 Sunset Sporting Goods stores, who put up some money and now owns 30 percent of the company. Pratt said McGillis provided much-needed management skills for the fledgling company.
With McGillis' money, Pratt went back to the drawing board and started designing a variety of recreation bags, including backpacks for students, locker bags, duffel bags, executive travel cubes and waist pouches. One of OGIO's newest ideas is a series of the above-mentioned types of bags designed for the person involved in water sports. These bags are waterproof.
One of Pratt's next projects is to develop a new line, Alpurist, which will consist of "highly technical internal framed backpacks." And another line will be made of leather, something Pratt believes people want to spoil themselves with. A locker bag, duffel bag, travel cube, waist pouch and passport wallet are planned.
Not wanting to appear "snooty," Pratt said OGIO bagsaren't sold in discount houses because he is trying to make carrying one of his bags a lifestyle. "We believe people who carry an OGIO bag will make a statement to their peers that they are organized," Pratt said.
To carry out the prestige theme of his company, OGIO bags are made of a variety of tarpulin nylon and have heavy-duty zippers, reinforced stitching, taped seams and reinforced rivets.
The 31/2-year-old company has sold 750,000 bags through stores, catalog companies and direct mail. OGIO has 13 sales agencies in the United States and does special advertising to large corporations, encouraging them to use OGIO bags as awards to employees.
OGIO is also selling its bags in Europe, Australia and Japan, said Scott R. Wood, vice president for sales.
Sometime in February, OGIO will move to a 22,000 square-foot building at 3100 S. 1000 West. Pratt said OGIO now has 20,000 square feet scattered among three locations.
A native of Salt Lake City, Pratt has lived in Thailand and Virginia and has taken some classes at Salt Lake Community College. But it is his affinity for designing products that has led to his company's success.
Wood is a grandson of Leah and George Wood, the founders of Fernwood Candy Co. He was involved in the candy business until 1985, worked for Mrs. Fields Cookies and a bank for two years before joining OGIO in 1988.