Martin Maisonpierre has always been a man of the outdoors. His work and the values of Cascade Designs coincide, making his role as the Director of Communications for this recreation company a perfect fit.
Despite excelling in his studies, graduating from Dickson College in Law and Policy Media with a focus on International relations and anti-terrorism, Martin did not find his true passion until later in his life.
Instead, Martin set up what originally started as a small project among friends: a blog based on the Brooklyn Area, sharing tips on the best food, latest music, and top local news stories. Following its success, he saw a gap in the market for a place to source what was going on in his neighborhood and with that, Brooklyn365 was born.
Cascade Designs, similar to Martin’s Brooklyn365, was born from seeing a gap in the market. John Burroughs, co-founder of Cascade Designs, was an avid mountaineer who loved the outdoors. During his hikes, he was disappointed with standard air mattresses that were ‘cold and prone to leaking, while closed cell foam pads didn’t offer sufficient comfort.’ When friends Neil Anderson and Jim Lee lost their jobs in Boeing, along with 50,000 others, they looked to John for inspiration as to what they could do with the engineering skills they attained.
John’s passion for the outdoors, along with Neil and Jim’s skills as engineers, Cascade Designs was founded. In a world where Seattle was crumbling from the loss of Boeing, causing thousand to leave, John, Jim and Neil created a brand that shares their love for quality products, the outdoors and engineering.
MiND had the pleasure of talking to Martin about his journey towards Cascade Designs and how the company’s core values align with his own.
Where did you find the inspiration for Brookyln365?
Martin Maisonpierre: Brooklyn 365 came about as a project to help me learn more about what was happening in my neighborhood, in Brooklyn. My business partner, Todd, and I were often at a loss for what events were going on; hearing about interesting restaurant openings, parties, and concerts after they happened. By starting the site we were quickly up to speed with what was happening in the arts, food and general culture in North Brooklyn, and we were able to share that with a group of readers who were genuinely interested.
Why did you decide to get into media after studying Law and Policy Management?
Martin Maisonpierre: My first job out of school was at a large law and lobby firm in Washington D.C. After spending time in the position and working alongside law students and first-year associates, I quickly realized that that path was not for me. I am fascinated by policy and consider myself a news junkie, which led me into public affairs work with Edelman Public Relations. That interest is still very much a part of my current line of work that encompasses public affairs issues for Cascade Designs along with government relations work.
The outdoors is something you seem to love. Have you always been a sporty person?
Martin Maisonpierre: My family vacations as a child were atypical as far as my peers were concerned. Rather than going to a resort or Disney World, we spent our vacations camping up and down the east coast from Florida to Maine. Beyond that, much of my childhood was spent outside playing barefoot in the woods and fields around my house.
How did you end up working for Cascade? Was it ever a dream job?
Martin Maisonpierre: Prior to working for Cascade Designs, I spent a few months hiking a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, bike touring through Washington State, and exploring parks in California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. I relied daily on my MSR stove and water filter, slept on a Therm-a-Rest mattress every night, and drank out of Platypus reservoirs. When I finished up my travels and started the job hunt, the position at Cascade seemed like it was made for me, bringing together my background in media and public affairs with my love for the outdoors.
What is your favorite product from Cascade’s many brands for your outdoor activities?
Martin Maisonpierre: That’s easily my MSR WhisperLite stove. I received it as a Christmas present from my parents nearly 15 years ago along with a hugely bulky backpacking pack and a cook set. The stove is the only piece that I still have and use. It’s been on African safaris, melted snow on Mt. Baker, and, most importantly, cooked pancakes in the backcountry for my girlfriend, which I credit as the key moment that Sarah decided she really did like me.
What is your favourite aspect of your current role in Cascade?
Martin Maisonpierre: I’m lucky in that I get to speak daily with journalists and customers who tell me how our gear has helped them accomplish incredible things. Whether it’s their first backpacking trip or record-breaking trips to the North Pole. That passion is contagious.
Jim Lea and Neil Anderson started Cascade off the back of losing their jobs and in a time when Seattle was going through a bit of a crisis due to the loss of jobs from Boeing. Being engineers, do you think this impacts both the style and the way of working at Cascade?
Martin Maisonpierre: Yes, absolutely. We’re an engineering-first company, and are all natural problem solvers on account – whether that be in business, product design, or marketing. It means there’s always room for improvement and it’s exciting to work in an environment where we get to constantly push the boundaries of what is possible.