Black Diamond will lay off Utah employees as manufacturing moves overseas

A visitor walks past an advertisement for Utah based Black Diamond Equipment during the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. This is the last year the show will be held in Utah before moving it to Colorado. (Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

The outdoor recreation company Black Diamond Equipment announced it will lay off 70 of its Utah employees.

The workers’ last days at the Holladay-based company will be between Sept. 1 and year’s end, the company confirmed Wednesday. The 70 employees will come from its manufacturing division, which currently has 132 workers in Utah.

The biggest product in that division is carabiners — the metal clips used by climbers, rafters and hikers.

John DiCuollo of Backbone Media, which represents Black Diamond, said Wednesday that Black Diamond wants to get more innovative with how it manufactures carabiners — making them lighter and stronger — and didn’t feel it could achieve that in Utah.

“There are a slew of other reasons [for moving the manufacturing],” DiCuollo said . “For [Black Diamond], they’re not just thinking a year out. They’re thinking five and 10 years out.”

Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune John Walbrecht, president of Black Diamond,, is "bummed" as the outdoor recreation industry stages their last trade show in Utah on Wed. July 26, 2017, before moving to Denver.

The Clarus Corp. acquired Black Diamond in 2010. The outdoor industry trade publication SNEWS published an interview Tuesday with Clarus President John Walbrecht. He said such climbing staples as carabiners, crampons and wall irons will no longer be made in Utah. The Utah facility will continue to assemble some products such as climbing skins and ice screws.

“This decision was not a reflection of the capabilities, the performance, or even the progress of our manufacturing in Salt Lake City,” Walbrecht told SNEWS. “It was driven by the ideology of being the most innovative, design-focused brand in this space and ensuring that our designs and our innovations can be manufactured in the absolute best places in the world. We’re looking at facilities in Taiwan, but it’s still undecided.”

Besides climbing gear, Black Diamond makes and sells apparel and equipment for skiing and hiking. It has long been an anchor in Utah’s outdoor product industry.

Both the industry and Utah’s effort to market to the outdoor industry suffered a blow when the Outdoor Retailer shows — the industry’s premier trade events — left the state at the end of 2017 in a dispute over state policies toward public lands. The shows are now held in Denver.

Still, the outdoor industry claims to add $3.9 billion in wages and salaries to Utah.

In Clarus’ annual report, filed in March, it said about 25% to 30% of its products were manufactured at U.S. facilities. Clarus in fiscal 2018 turned a profit for the first time in four years.